An arson fire inside a Niles Walmart is the fourth one this year
NILES, Mich. – Fire crews are investigating several small fires inside a Walmart in Niles. It happened early this morning. Most of the fires were extinguished by employees before crews got there just before 2 a.m.
Officials say the fires were set intentionally and this isn’t the first time this has happened. There have been three similar arsons at this Walmart this year.
Walmart employees taped off the entire grocery side of the store all day. But ABC57 is told the small fires were set in the clothing section of the store - just like the three other times arson fires have been set there this year.
“I want to say at least 4 and I think that’s ridiculous,” Haylei Shepard, one Niles resident said.
“Since we’ve been here we’ve known of at least 3 that’s happened here at Walmart and it’s always seemed to happen more towards the third shift late at night,” Larry Fettinger, another Niles resident said.
Niles shoppers know this Walmart Superstore on South 11th Street has a past and they weren’t surprised to hear another set of fires broke out this morning.
“Obviously it’s become a point where it’s not safe for anybody let alone kids,” Shepard said.
The Berrien County Sherriff’s Department confirms there have been three prior arsons at this Walmart just this year, in April, June and July, and no suspects have been caught.
Thankfully nobody was injured in any of the fires.
“It seems like every time a fire started, nobody’s being held accountable for it. Or they can’t find out or figure who did it,” Sheperd said.
Investigators describe the latest suspects as a white male, wearing a black jacket and blue jeans. He was with a white female who was wearing a University of Michigan jacket.
They drove out of the parking lot in a dark-colored vehicle.
And now the question is - could all four incidents be related?
“Based on the fact that it’s always at the same time and it’s always in the clothing department. Seems like it would be the same person to me,” Fettinger said.
Shoppers tell ABC57 they just want the arsonists responsible, caught.
“If they were suspicious coming in, you should be able to catch that on camera at least,” Fettinger said.
And for this Walmart to put in stricter security measures, especially overnight.
“They need to have more people working and watching closely at what these people are doing,” Shepard said.
Anyone with information on the arsons at this Walmart is asked to call Crimestoppers or the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office.