A $2,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the suspect who set fire to a pit bull puppy in a church parking lot.
The reward was announced during a news conference Sunday, said Sgt. Brittany Jackamonis of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
No new leads were announced in the incident, which Richland County deputies were alerted to around 7 p.m. Saturday, when the 8-10 week old pit bull puppy on fire was found in the parking lot at Grace United Methodist Church. The church, at 410 Harbison Blvd., is not far from Columbiana Centre.
An eyewitness heard the yelps of the puppy, Jackamonis said, and described seeing an African-American man in his early 20s in a gray hoodie.
A veteran deputy, in tears over the brutality of the crime, took the burned dog to VCA Animal Specialty Center off Fernandina Road, Jackamonis said, adding the puppy was so badly injured it had to be put down.
“This was so horrific,” she said.
Sheriff Leon Lott, who has dogs of his own, authorized the reward.
Authorities are investigating whether an accelerant was used, Jackamonis said. Investigators also will see whether they can find surveillance video from the area.
People who kill humans sometimes start off their careers by killing animals, Jackamonis said. “If you have any information, call us, no matter how little. Maybe we can make a link somewhere.”
Anyone with information should call CrimeStoppers at (888) CRIME-SC.