A volunteer firefighter has been arrested by state police for two separate fires, and accused of arson. One was at a Walgreens in Moncks Corner, and one at the Macedonia Church of God in Bonneau. Randy Cannon was given a $10,000 bond for the Walgreens fire and a $75,000 bond for the church fire.
He lives very close to the Macedonia Church of God and his neighbors say they are surprised to find out that authorities say Cannon is responsible. Neighbors say the church seemed to be consumed by flames in a matter of minutes and they can’t believe the person accused of starting the fire is supposed to be the one to put them out.
Peg Harris, a neighbor, says, “I don’t understand how anyone who fights fires can start a fire.”
She says he put the lives of his friends and colleagues at risk.
Harris says, “They put their lives on the line going into these fires and for somebody to start a fire who knows what people are going through to fight a fire, it’s just unbelievable.”
But it’s not unheard of.
Developmental Psychologist at the College of Charleston, Professor Jennifer Wright, says, “It’s common enough that there’s actually been FBI profiles created specifically for firefighter arsons. And it’s usually white males between the ages of 17-25, so young males, which sounds like it fits the profile of this individual.”
She says there are three main motives.
One is the adrenaline rush.
Professor Wright says, “Someone might set fires just because there’s the excitement of being able to put them out.”
Another is the person could be obsessed with fire, or a pyromaniac.
Wright says, “It provides an opportunity for them to be involved in what fascinates them but also in a socially acceptable context. One of the reasons why that might be less common is because pyromaniacs don’t typically like fires to be extinguished, they like them to burn.”
Cannon was the first firefighter to respond to the scene at the Macedonia Church, so psychologists say this could point to a hero complex.
Wright says, “A lot of our first responders including our firefighters are genuinely motivated to be of service to our communities, but here it’s more the desire to receive the accolades that go along with being a hero and if the opportunities don’t present themselves naturally, then you might be inclined to create artificial situations and then the benefit of that is being able to be the first responder.”
While Professor Wright says firefighter arson is not unheard of, it’s also not common. Out of about $1 million firefighters in the country, there are about 100 arrests per year of internal arson cases.