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Home  |  News  |  Man charged with burning police station, patrol car

Man charged with burning police station, patrol car
Wednesday, May 25, 2011

LYNCHBURG, SC (WIS)- The State Law Enforcement Division has charged a Lee County man with setting fire to the Lynchburg Police Department, and a patrol car last year. SLED has spent the past 14 months tracking down a suspect in the case.

Lee County sheriff's Lieutenant Scott Myers arrested Roderick Commander during a traffic stop Monday and charged him with manufacturing and distribution of drugs, jail records show. Commander has been jailed ever since. Tuesday, SLED agents served Roderick Commander inside a Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center jail cell, with two warrants for first degree arson.

In the early morning hours of March 16, 2010, a man passing by the Lynchburg police department saw an unmarked patrol car burning in the parking lot and called 911. SLED's arson investigator responded to the scene and started collecting evidence.

Lynchburg Police Chief Charles Lewis got the call about the fire around 3:30 a.m., "I'm thinking accidentally, trying to think positively, saying it was accidental and the fire department got there in time and saved it, but when I arrived, it was a whole different story," Lewis told WIS.

Lewis said investigators found paper stuffed into the car's gas tank. "It was hanging out, but it was pushed all the way in the tank," he said.

At the time, Lewis was hoping the suspect might have left fingerprints behind or some other physical evidence that might lead investigators to identify a suspect. "We're hoping those dumb moves lead us to an arrest," Lewis said.

The fire also caused damage to a marked car. Police said the damage was a big blow to the department, as they were already strapped for cash.

Five months later, an arsonist hit again. The August 2010 fire burned the Lynchburg police department. Investigators said the fire started at the building on Magnolia Street around 4:30a.m. The building was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived and was destroyed. Nobody was injured.

Only two full-time police officers work for the department, including Police Chief Charles Lewis. Neither was inside at the time. Early into the investigation, investigators ruled out an electrical problem.

A Lee County magistrate set Commander's bond at $200,000 Wednesday. Investigators said more arrests in this case are likely.

Source: http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=14713891

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