A local smoke shop caught fire late in September of this year. The fire at the DVape Shop in Maddex Square was originally assumed to be an accident, but Shepherd University police arrested Christian Caulk, a Shepherd student, on Oct. 20 in connection with the crime.
Caulk was employed by the shop and worked the night of the fire. According to George Harms, assistant fire marshal, the security tape from the night of the incident shows Caulk moving the security camera in the backroom in order to obstruct its vision of the safe.
The tape shows Caulk breaking into the safe and retrieving an envelope. He then shuts off the camera system, but the footage resumes when the cameras sense motion and catch the fire starting on a couch in the back room.
When originally interviewed at the scene by Harms, Caulk claimed to have heard fire crackling in the walls and smelled smoke which prompted him to go next door to a neighboring shop and ask if they knew anything about the noise.
Upon returning to the vape shop, the back room had gone up in flames. Caulk told Harms he called 911 when he discovered the back room fire.
Harms said he does not believe this was the case. The shop owner also reported that $4,000 went missing the night of the fire, which is believed to have been apprehended by Caulk and his motive for starting the fire, according to the fire marshal.
There were no serious injuries as a result of the fire, and surrounding shops received minor smoke damage. Most shops in the Maddex Square shopping plaza returned to business as usual the next day, but the vape shop and Christian Caine Design remained closed.
Caulk is now being charged with 2nd-degree arson and is being held at the Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg with a $50,000 bail.
He is facing multiple pending charges and currently faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.