BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office has arrested two juveniles in connection with fire at the Masonic Lodge and vandalism at a church last week.
Berkeley County sheriff's investigators said they arrested two boys, aged 13 and 14, in connection with the fire last Friday. The juveniles are currently in the custody of the SC Department of Juvenile Justice awaiting a hearing before a Family Court judge.
Investigators say the fire happened at the Laurel Hill Masonic Lodge on 2442 Santee River Road in St. Stephen. Across the street, a window was broken at the Bethlehem Baptist Church. According to authorities, it was discovered that an attempted had been made to burglarize and vandalize the church.
A man who's a member of both the church and lodge said people who live nearby saw someone trying to break into the church, and yelled at them.
Ervin Brown said the witnesses then saw the suspects run away.
"If we didn't have those people that saw them banging on the window, the lodge would probably be completely burned down. And then the church probably would have caught on fire," Brown said.
"it's a shock to the community because it's a knit community and people pay attention to details in the community," he added.
The sheriff's office called in an arson investigator from the State Law Enforcement Division to lead the investigation.
Both teens are charged with third-degree arson, second-degree burglary, and malicious injury to real property for the lodge fire. They face charges of attempted second-degree burglary, and malicious injury to a place of worship in connection with the incident at the church.
The sheriff's office released the following statement:
"Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt said the Alvin community is a very close-knit community and said he knew how deeply this affected the residents there and expressed his pleasure at being able to quickly bring this investigation to a speedy conclusion. He thanked the other agencies, The S.C. Law Enforcement (S.L.E.D.) Agency and the FBI that assisted the Sheriff's office in the investigation."