A Harbison-area man who is accused of using an accelerant to set fire to a pit bull puppy in a church parking lot over the weekend was arrested Monday.
Hykeem Dontavious Jabar Golson, 21, is facing charges of ill treatment of animals. He is being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.
Golson was taking out his frustrations over a domestic situation when he burned the puppy, which belonged to an acquaintance, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Monday. When investigators tracked down the puppy’s owner, they were able to find who burned it, Lott said.
Golson used accelerant and other materials to set the puppy on fire, the sheriff said. A witness saw the puppy burning, as a suspect fled. The puppy was so badly injured it was put down at an animal hospital, Lott said.
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Golson was arrested Monday at 2 p.m., at his home at the Wellsprings Apartments at 500 Harbison Blvd. His home is less than a mile from where the puppy was found yelping from its burns in the parking lot of Grace United Methodist Church at 410 Harbison Blvd.
The brutality of the incident rattled the responding deputies and Lott, who has dogs of his own. Lott authorized a reward of $2,000 to help catch the person responsible.
“This is a person with a very lengthy criminal record who took out a frustration in a domestic situation ... did that terrible thing to that dog, and now he’s going to suffer the consequences for it,” the sheriff said.
In response to the attack, the church will hold a “Blessing of the Animals” event at 4 p.m. Saturday, where church and community members can bring their pets or photos of pets during a prayer service.
The church’s pastor, Rev. Murray Snow, said the community feels violated that the brutal attack happened on the church’s property. He also said the congregation would pray for the person who burned the puppy. “No one is beyond God’s grace and God’s redeeming,” Snow said.
Golson has pleaded guilty to several crimes in the past, including a shoplifting charge in 2013, possession of beer or wine as a minor in 2013, larceny of more than $2,000 in 2015 and several driving offenses, according to police and court records.
Staff writer Jane Moon Dail contributed to this article.