South Carolina

'Two punk' TV shoplifters held in death of 81-year-old Sears worker

COLUMBIA, S.C. — An 81-year-old Sears sales associate was killed by two men who shoved him down while stealing television sets from a South Carolina store, authorities said Wednesday.

Sheriff Leon Lott said he charged "two punks" with murder as well as strong-arm robbery when Duaine Hamilton died, four days after his head hit the store's concrete floor.

"It wasn't a struggle. They just struck him. He's 81 years old. He attempted to stop them by standing in front of them and they just attacked and knocked him down. And they still stole the TVs," Lott said at a news conference.

Jeffrey Simmons, 58, was arrested Friday, and Jason Randolph, 40, was taken into custody Wednesday after a traffic stop, deputies said.

The blow to the head on Aug. 22 killed Hamilton, who "should have been home playing with his grandchildren," Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said.

Hamilton was an Air Force veteran who retired from AT&T and then went to work for Sears 13 years ago, the sheriff said. Although he was initially identified as a worker whose job was to prevent shoplifting, Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said Hamilton was a sales associate in the store's home appliance department.

Lott said the attack was caught on the store's security cameras, but his spokesman, Lt. Curtis Wilson, said that out of respect to the victim's family, the sheriff didn't want to release the recordings Wednesday, since they were holding the man's funeral.

Simmons and Randolph have long criminal records, including nine shoplifting convictions for Simmons alone, Lott said. It wasn't known whether either man had a lawyer.

"They are used to going into wherever they want to go in and stealing stuff and getting away with it," the sheriff said.

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