COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - An 81-year-old Richland County man trying to stop two men from stealing television sets from a Midlands department store was killed last Tuesday.
The two shoplifters will now be held accountable for his death after they shoved him violently to the ground, according to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
According to Sheriff Leon Lott, Duaine Hamilton, 81, was working loss prevention at the Sears on Two Notch Road at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 21 when he was assaulted by two men who were attempting to leave the store with the televisions.
"An 81-year-old man who was out here living life, enjoying the golden years of his life and it was just snatched from him by these two punks who want to go steal two TVs from Sears. And those two TVs were more important than Mr. Hamilton's life," Lott said.
Hamilton tried to stop the two men by standing in front of them but was shoved to the ground. Hamilton, Coroner Gary Watts said, was shoved so violently that his head hit the ground, causing injuries that led to his death.
"Think about this, this 81-year-old man and grandfather who by all rights should have been at home playing with his grandchildren was doing what he thought was the right thing and working," Watts said.
Hamilton was taken to the hospital where he later died.
To add insult, Lott said, the two men still walked out with the television sets.
"They just attacked him and still stole the TV's," Lott said.
One of the men, Jeffrey Alan Simmons, was arrested at his home on Ferrell Drive on Friday and charged with strong armed robbery and murder. The other, Jason Randolph, was apprehended Wednesday.
Both have lengthy criminal records. Lott said Simmons has 17 arrests for shoplifting, nine convictions.
Lott said the incident was caught on surveillance video.
The sheriff described Hamilton as "a dedicated employee of Sears for 13 years, a loving husband married to his wife of 60 years, a father of six children, veteran of the United States Air Force, retired from AT&T, attended Bible College where he graduated in 1968, and also served as a Deacon and Elder of Covenant Free Presbyterian Church."
If you have any information about this incident, you are urged to contact Crimestoppers in any of the following ways: Call 1-888-CRIME SC (888-274-6372), Text TIPSC plus your tip info to CRIMES (274637), visit www.midlandscrimestoppers.com and email a tip. Your identity will be kept anonymous, and if your tip leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.