A West Columbia man charged with setting fires at a Lexington 2 school has been arrested, officials say.
Thomas Hartford Riley, 54, was arrested near Pineview Elementary School, on Leaphart Road in West Columbia, around 5 a.m. Friday on two counts of third-degree arson, according to Lexington County Sheriff James Metts.
Riley was found hiding behind a tree near the school’s playground, Metts said. The school is less than a mile from Riley’s home.
Riley set fires at the school on two separate occasions, once to a garbage dumpster July 30 and a second time to a plastic garbage can on the playground, arrest warrants allege.
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Under South Carolina law, third-degree arson is a felony that carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison, Metts said.
Officers found a pair of Riley's underwear on the top of the playground's jungle gym at the time of the arrest. The motive for the fires remains under investigation, Metts said.
No damage estimates were made available.
Riley was being held Saturday at the Lexington County Detention Center on $50,000 bail.