A man is in custody and charged with arson in connection with two fires Saturday afternoon at Northshore Walmart stores. Louisiana State Fire Marshal Chief Butch Browning says 45-year-old Larry Paul Schouest Jr. started the fires at the Hammond and Amite Walmart stores as a distraction after stealing laptop computers from the stores.
Officials say the fires were set in the store’s pool chemical areas, but the sprinkler systems kept the fires from getting out of control. Fire crews evacuated the stores. No one was hurt. Fire marshal deputies say they also obtained a confession from Schouest that he set a fire on June 27 at the Ponchatoula Walmart, where he also stole laptops. Browning says Schouest was charged with two counts of aggravated arson and six counts of felony theft. He was booked into the Tangipahoa Parish prison.