Second Suspect Arrested in Killing of 81-year-old Sears Employee

The man was killed by two shoplifters who were trying to take a TV.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Richland County Sheriff deputies say a second man accused of killing an 81-year-old Sears employee during a shoplifting incident has been arrested

Sheriff Leon Lott gave an update Wednesday afternoon, saying that 40-year-old Jason Randolph had been taken into custody.

Hours earlier, Lott held a news conference with the latest on the death of Duaine Hamilton, who worked at the Sears store located at the Columbia Place Mall on Two Notch Road.

Lott says Hamilton, who'd worked at the store for years, was on his shift when two suspects, identified as 40-year-old Jason Randolph and Jeffery Alan Simmons, went into the store.

The started to steal two 49-inch TVs from the store, according to the sheriff, but Hamilton, an Air Force veteran, attempted to stand in their way to stop them. The two then attacked Hamilton, however, knocking him to the ground where his head took a blow.

The suspects then ran from the store, deputies say. Hamilton was taken to the hospital where he was put on life support, but he ultimately passed away last Saturday.

His funeral was Wednesday morning, at the same time Lott was talking.

"He was living life, enjoying the golden years of his life, and it was just snatched from him by two punks who wanted to steal two tvs, and those two TVs were more important that his life," Lott said.

Lott says Hamilton had moved to Columbia years ago and had worked at AT&T for many years. He retired, but then went to work at the Sears store in the loss prevention department--the people in charge of looking out for shoplifters.

He was a regular churchgoer, and a good member of the community, the sheriff adds.

"This could have been anyone's grandfather," Lott said.

Randolph and Simmons have lengthy criminal records, Lott says, all for stealing items. 

"He doesn't want to be arrested, but we're going to arrest him," Lott promised.

Both will be charged with murder, Lott clarified.

The sheriff said investigators have talked to witnesses, but are looking to talk to more.

"We deserve better than that in Richland County, and we really need your help," Watts said

Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC. 

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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