How did Columbia Police publicly misidentify the man accused of burning down 2 Walmarts?

Columbia police announced the arrest of a suspected arsonist last week, but the man they initially said they accused of the crime had nothing to do with it.

Last Monday, a man was stopped near the Walmart on Garners Ferry Road after police said he intentionally set a fire inside the store, causing about $30,000 in damage but no injuries.

The same suspect was identified on surveillance video at another Walmart on Two Notch Road, where he allegedly started another fire on Sunday.

Columbia police identified the man in a news release issued Tuesday, along with his photo. But on Wednesday, police confirmed that the man currently being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center was not the person they had initially identified.

Instead, on Thursday, investigators had identified the suspect as Jarod Daniel Stacy using fingerprints and facial recognition, Columbia police announced on X, the site formerly known as Twitter. Stacy, 27, also admitted her identity to police, the department said. He now faces charges of identity theft as well as second-degree arson.

WIS TV spoke to the man who was initially identified as the suspect, a Mount Pleasant resident who told the TV station he lost his ID at a Greenville Walmart in January. He provided the television station with a photo ID which matches the arson suspect’s name, but not the booking photo released by the police.

The state contacted the man who was mistakenly identified as the suspect but did not receive a response prior to publication.

Deputy Police Chief Melron Kelly told The State that Stacy gave officers a false name at the time of her arrest, but did not have identification at the time. He was arrested under this name and publicly identified before his identity could be confirmed.

“Typically when we make an arrest we match the ID with known fingerprints, but that hadn’t been done before the arrest information was released,” Kelly said.

The father of the misidentified man contacted the police…

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