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The call came from inside Goodwill: 'Setting the fire now'

Posted at 6:08 PM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 18:18:04-05

PETERSBURG, Va. -- A 23-year-old man was charged with setting fire to the Goodwill store on Crater Circle in Petersburg.

Johnathan Phillips, who police said had no permanent address, was arrested without incident Sunday night at the store.

"The initial call came into our dispatch from the suspect,” Petersburg Police Captain Emanuel Chambliss said. “He advised dispatch he was inside the business and that he was setting the fire."

The Goodwill store in Petersburg is one of the busiest Goodwill stores in Central Virginia, according to Laura Faison, the marketing and communications director for Goodwill of Central Virginia. The store remains closed, Faison said, while the fire-damaged was assessed.

An initial survey determined most everything on the sale floor was lost in the fire.

"There's a lot of water damage, some smoke damage, some lingering smell of gasoline from the event itself," Faison said. "We're still determining, but it still could be several weeks before we're able to re-open this location.”

Goodwill is about helping people in the community find employment.

"All of the associates who were scheduled to work today were actually given a paid day off and then going forward, they're going to be relocated to four area stores," she said.

Faison encouraged everyone to donate to and shop with Goodwill.

"You'd be amazed at some of the heartfelt gifts people can find,” said Faison.

Phillips, who was driving a car with Tennessee plates, was charged with arson and destruction of property.

Anyone with information was asked to call the Crime Solvers hotline at 804-861-1212.