South Congaree, SC – South Congaree Police Chief Josh Shumpert announced Wednesday night that he had arrested a 22-year-old man who has confessed to burning the town’s barn-style community building last Sunday morning. Dustin Kneece, who lives off Pine Street several blocks from the site of the fire, signed a written confession Wednesday afternoon after being questioned again by Shumpert.
Kneece had been a person of interest immediately following the fires, according to Shumpert. He had been suspected of starting some smaller fires some time ago, but there had never been enough evidence to make an arrest in those cases. When Shumpert was notified by firefighters that the barn and another abandoned structure within a few blocks was on fire Sunday, he immediately thought of Kneece. “We made initial contact with Kneece on Sunday morning before daybreak,” Shumpert said. “After that interview, we knew we had the right man. It took us a few days to get all of our evidence in order and to make sure that we had all the details of this case documented, but once we did and I showed him what he was facing, he signed a written confession to starting the barn fire,” Shumpert concluded.
Shumpert made the announcement at a non-denominational prayer meeting that was held next to the rubble that once was the little barn Wednesday evening. The community had come together to pray for healing for the town and for the person who had burned it. “Although I join with you in offering forgiveness to the young man who did this,” Shumpert told the assembled crowd, “It did feel good to put handcuffs on him so that we could be sure that he’s off the streets of our town,” Shumpert continued.
Kneece is being held at the Lexington County Detention Center awaiting formal charges on Thursday. Shumpert said that he will consult with the solicitor’s office before deciding on the exact charge that Kneece will face.