Deputies: Man breaks in home, possibly starts a fire to get away

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News 12 at 11 / Saturday, March 22, 2014

James Earl Sheppard (WRDW-TV)

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. (WRDW) -- A search ends with a man behind bars after deputies said he broke into an Aiken county home and then possibly set it on fire.

Deputies said the homeowner on Connector Road was held at gunpoint and the Sheriff's Office credits her safety to fast thinking. Investigators tell me she was home alone when the man broke in, but when she saw the chance she bolted for the door.

Smoke took over the air on Connector Road in Aiken County after deputies say an armed man broke into a home and possibility started a fire to get away.

"That suspect was demanding money, keys to her car, and a cell phone," Captain Eric Abdullah said.

The victim was home alone and too shook up to talk to News 12, but Abdullah says her quick thinking may have saved her life.

"She was able to escape from her home around here and call for law enforcement," he said.

Tom Kostura lives a few feet from where everything went down and says in the ten years he's called the area home, he never would have expected something like this and now one thing comes to his mind.

"It makes me glad that we have a second amendment... and I exercise it," Kostura said.

Deputies say they found the suspect, James Earl Shepherd, a few streets from where the crime happened and the arrest was made possible because of the some extra help.

"Citizens. They called in a suspicious person call on Midland Drive," Abdullah said.

The case is still active, but investigators say early signs show Shepherd could face two charges.

"Burglary in the first degree will probably be one of them, arson, and any other charges after that is unknown at this point," said Abdullah.

And while the sheriff credits the community with helping a lot, Kostura says the first responders deserve some credit too, along with the victim.

"I think she is very lucky. I think she was actually very brave too because she didn't listen to him, you know, she bolted for the door," he said.

Again, the investigation is still in its early stages and more charges could come down for Shepherd.

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