USC student accused of throwing fire bombs, suspected in Salty Nut fire

COLUMBIA (WACH)-- A USC student has been arrested and charged with throwing Molotov cocktails around the Columbia area.

Investigators say 22-year-old Theodore Podewil is also the prime suspect in the January 6 fire that heavily damaged the Salty Nut Café in Five Points. Authorities were set to serve arrest warrants in that arson case late Wednesday.

At a bond hearing Wednesday afternoon, a judge set Podewil's bail at $25,000. He is charged with possession/use of an incendiary device. If convicted, Podewil could spend more than ten years in prison.

Podewil was arrested Tuesday night at his Laurens Street apartment. Investigators say they found bottles and a gas can at Podewil's apartment when he was arrested.

"We're glad to have this person off the streets because we don't know what is going through this person's mind," said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins. "We don't know if they were planning on doing it again."

Warrants show USC police lifted the man's fingerprints from a fire bomb that didnâ??t explode near a dumpster behind a Main Street building in late January.

In that incident, authorities say Podewil stuffed a green beer bottle with a cloth and used an unknown accelerant to create an incendiary device. Warrants show Podewil made and used several of the explosive devices on at least three occasions.

The fire at the Salty Nut Café caused an estimated $300,000 in damages. Management plans to re-open the restaurant. Surveillance video captured outside the restaurant near the time of the fire helped investigators identify Podewil as a suspect.

Authorities say they do not know why he was making and using the homemade fire bombs, describing his alleged behavior as "random acts."

Podewil is being held in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.