Downtown Hartsville workers on edge after assault, fire

A Hartsville woman, who was assaulted by two men before police say they set fire to the store where she worked, has been released from the hospital. The two men who assaulted her have not been identified or found.

Tammy Hall has worked at Palmetto Diamonds and Fine Jewelry in Hartsville since July. She's a little jittery, to say the least, about what happened just a few doors down at Jack-be-Nimble.

It happened last Thursday. Police say two men robbed and assaulted a woman who worked at the store, and then set the building on fire. An employee at a nearby store saw the smoke and called 9-1-1. The woman was rescued by police and firefighters and is now recovering at home. Police have not released the nature of the assault or any information about the extent of her injuries.

Since then, Tammy and her co-workers aren't taking any chances with their safety. "We're just more aware of our surroundings. We're leaving together." They normally stay open until 6 p.m. everyday, but now they close up shop right at 5, before it gets dark. "Makes me feel a little safer if anything else happens," Tammy explained.

At Hartsville Local Finance, Marquita Evans is playing it safe too. "The back door stays locked at all times, but that front door gets locked as soon as it gets dark."

Many of the women who work in downtown Hartsville are scared but say they're not going to let what happened scare them off. They plan to rally together to help police find those responsible for hurting their fellow merchant.

In the meantime, police have stepped up patrols in downtown Hartsville. Tammy's already noticed a difference. "Seen them everywhere. Several of them came in here to ask if everything was ok." Tammy's company plans to install cameras outside their business just to be on the safe side.

The Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce is offering a reward of more than $20,000 for information leading to an arrest in this crime.