COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia police have formally charged and identified a suspect who they say set fire to two homes owned by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster Tuesday morning.
Officers say the suspect is Frank John Wilberding. He's charged with two counts of arson second-degree and possession of a controlled substance (schedule IV Xanax).
Police detained him earlier in the day Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said the suspect was located 'nearby' the crime scene thanks to a quick tip after they released his surveillance picture to the public.
No motive is known. At this point, Holbrook said they do not believe others are involved in the arson.
Officials say crews were first dispatched shortly before 6:30 a.m. this morning. A second alarm was called minutes later. In all, Jenkins says 15 units responded to the fire with a total of approximately 40 firefighters.
The damage to the houses is estimated to be $450,000.
Officials say a dog alerted residents, all of whom were evacuated safely with no injuries. Approximately 19 people lived in the homes. "It's just a blessing no one got injured," said Columbia Fire Department chief Aubrey Jenkins.
Both homes are owned by Governor McMaster, according Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins. The Associated Press reports that McMaster and his wife, Peggy, own 20 homes around Columbia and rent many to students at the University of South Carolina. Tax records show the couple earns about $300,000 a year from the rentals.