Authorities arrest suspect sought for fires at 2 Goose Creek area schools

Published: Aug. 18, 2014 at 8:09 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 20, 2014 at 1:46 AM EDT
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GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office says a man who set a series of fires in the Goose Creek and Ladson area over the weekend has been arrested.

Investigators arrested 20-year-old Patrick Joseph Coxe and charged him with three counts of third-degree arson, second-degree burglary and malicious damage to property.

Coxe was locked up at the Hill-Finklea Detention Center after he was given a $112,105 bond. He is also being held on a drug possession charge by GCPD with a $620 bond.

GCPD officials say in the early morning hours of Sunday, August 17, a series of fires were set in the College Park area including at Stratford High School and College Park Elementary School.

On Sunday at 5:35 a.m., police were investigating a dumpster fire near Crowfield Plaza at 650 College Park Road when an officer saw smoke coming from the construction area at Stratford High School on 951 Crowfield Boulevard.

Officers say when they arrived at the school, they saw smoke and flames coming from the two rear windows of an office trailer.

Authorities say the gate around the trailer was forcibly knocked down, and a fork lift was stuck in a ditch located at the construction site. A police report states that the mud around the tires looked freshly disturbed.

Police say it appeared someone had cut the ignition of the fork lift, started it and attempted to drive it when it became stuck in the ditch.

Officers also located a screw driver and wire cutters on the ground, as well as a small yellow diesel gas can sitting by the front door of the office trailer. GCPD officials say they believe that the fuel was used to ignite the fire in the office trailer.

Firefighters reported that when they arrived at the scene, the door handle of the trailer was missing and the door was unlocked. Stratford High School officials told authorities that the handle had been missing for some time.

Authorities say the suspect was captured on video at one of the locations.

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