Three fires at area stores set to cover thefts, suspect arrested
AMITE - State fire investigators booked a man into the Tangipahoa Parish jail overnight on charges related to string of arsons at area Walmart locations that may have been set to distract workers so the suspect could steal computers.
Larry Paul Schouest, Jr., was charged with two counts of aggravated arson and six counts of felony theft, Fire Marshal Butch Browning told WBRZ. The arson charges are for fires set at the Walmart in Hammond and another one in Amite. Both fires were set Saturday. The theft charges are for stealing laptop computers from the stores at the time the fires were set.
In addition, Schouest also confessed to setting a fire at the Ponchatoula Walmart in June. Computers were also stolen then, too.
The blaze at the Amite store originated in the pool maintenance section. There was a risk of chlorine contamination becuase chemicals burned. The store will likely remain shut down through the weekend.
About 40 minutes later, while crews were still investigating the fire in Amite, the fire at the Walmart on W. Thomas Street in Hammond was reported. That store remained closed through Saturday night.
Investigators used surveillance video to arrest Schouest.