S.C. man sets fire inside Walmart to steal beer, solicitor says

S.C. man sets fire inside Walmart to steal beer, solicitor says
Russell William Geddings (Source: 8th Circuit Solicitor's Office / WYFF)

GREENWOOD, S.C. (WYFF) - A Greenwood man received the maximum sentence allowed under the law after he set a clothing rack on fire inside a Walmart so he could steal a few beers, 8th Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo announced.

Russell William Geddings, 34, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to charges of third-degree arson and malicious injury to personal property.

Circuit Judge Donald Hocker then sentenced Geddings to 15 years in prison for the arson charge and 10 years in prison on the malicious injury to personal property charge, suspended to five years of probation. The sentences are to run consecutively.

Investigators said that on Dec. 5, 2018, Geddings went to the Walmart store located at 508 Bypass 72 NW and started a fire on a clothing rack in the men’s section of the store before fleeing the scene.

Investigators circulated a surveillance photo through Crime Stoppers and a witness told investigators that she had spotted Geddings at the Greenwood Commissioners of Public Works building.

Investigators were able to confirm it had been Geddings at CPW and apprehended him without incident.

Geddings told investigators he set the fire as a diversion tactic while he stole a case of beer from the store, Stumbo said. Walmart reported the fire did about $1.2 million in damage to merchandise in the store.

To read the full story from NBC affiliate WYFF in Greenville, click here.

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