Crime & Courts

UPDATE: Second suspect in death of 81-year-old veteran arrested during traffic stop

Shoplifters killed 81-year-old Columbia Sears employee while stealing TVs

An 81-year-old Sears employee and Air Force veteran was killed when two shoplifters violently shoved him to the ground as they fled the Columbia store with two TVs on Aug. 22, 2017. One suspect has been charged with murder and the second is being
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An 81-year-old Sears employee and Air Force veteran was killed when two shoplifters violently shoved him to the ground as they fled the Columbia store with two TVs on Aug. 22, 2017. One suspect has been charged with murder and the second is being

Two men with multiple shoplifting convictions are accused of killing an 81-year-old Columbia store employee by throwing him to the ground as they shoplifted two flat-screen televisions at a Columbia Sears.

Jeffrey Alan Simmons and Jason Randolph were stealing two flat screen TVs from Sears in Columbia Place Mall on Aug. 22 when 81-year-old Duaine Hamilton, a loss prevention officer, tried to stop them, according to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

The two men, whom Lott referred to as “punks,” shoved Hamilton to the concrete floor, causing him to hit his head. He was taken to Palmetto Health Richland, where he died Saturday from blunt force trauma to the head, according to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts. An Air Force veteran who lived in Irmo, Hamilton had worked for Sears for 13 years, Lott said.

According to an obituary published in The State, Hamilton left behind a wife of 60 years, four children and six grandchildren.

The suspects left with one of the TVs, and several witnesses gave deputies a description of the vehicle, Lott said. The attack was captured on surveillance video.

Simmons was arrested Friday at Randolph’s home on Ferrell Drive. Randolph was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon during a traffic stop on the 7800 block of Two Notch Road, Lott said.

Simmons’ criminal history goes back to a 1978 conviction for grand larceny and includes 17 arrests for shoplifting, according to State Law Enforcement Division records. He has been convicted of shoplifting at least nine times, most recently in January 2015, for which he was sentenced to two years in prison, records show.

Randolph’s criminal record dates back to 1994 with convictions for trespassing and larceny, and includes convictions for assault and battery with intent to kill, weapons charges, drug charges, shoplifting and a pending criminal domestic violence charge for Columbia police from October 2016, according to SLED records.

Under South Carolina law, a murder conviction carries 30 years to life in prison or the possibility of the death penalty. Common law robbery carries a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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