RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WLTX) - Richland Counties deputies have made two arrests in a "crime spree' of armed robberies and kidnappings over a period of July 3 - 26 in the area surrounding Williams Brice Stadium.
In a news conference to announce the arrests on Thursday, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the crime spree, which escalated from robberies to kidnappings to a near sexual assault, spanned from Stadium Suites to The Village and would have continued to escalate had the suspects not been arrested.
Raquan Green, 17, was arrested along with a 15-year-old, who has not been identified due to his age. Deputies are working with the solicitor's office to try to charge the minor as an adult, however, according to Sheriff Lott. Neither suspect is cooperating, says Lott.
A third man still at large was involved in some of the incidents.
When asked if deputies had identified any pattern amongst the victims, Lott said the suspects had revealed that to their victims, telling them they hated white people and were only going to rob white people.
Lott said it all began on July 3 with an armed robbery of a delivery driver, who was delivering food to an apartment complex. Similar incidents happened on July 15 and then again on July 17, Lott said.
On July 19, another delivery driver was robbed, but this time the driver was forced to drive to an ATM and withdraw money, according to Lott.
On July 25, a female was robbed and kidnapped and forced to drive out of the complex where she was taken. Lott said the victim was able to talk her way out of the situation and she was dropped back off at her apartment complex.
Two more men were then kidnapped from the parking lot of their apartment complexes.
On July 26, Lott said another female, known only as "Jordan," was kidnapped from the parking lot of her apartment complex and forced to drive to an ATM to withdraw money. Jordan was then able to escape, thanks to a lot of "quick thinking," Lott said.
"We call her 'James Bond,'" Lott said because of her thought process under pressure. Lott said Jordan was able to "outsmart and out-plan" her kidnappers, despite them having the advantage.
Jordan described her ordeal in detail at the news conference Thursday. In her case, she was arriving home from her job at a restaurant around 12:30 a.m., when the three suspects grabbed her as she got out of her car. When she screamed, she said they threw her to the ground and threatened her with a gun.
The suspects forced Jordan back into her car and, after having difficulty figuring out how to operate a manual transmission, two of them forced her to drive to a nearby ATM to withdraw money. Already thinking of how she might be able to escape, she deliberately did not put her seat belt back on after taking it off to reach over to the ATM.
As they drove away from the ATM, she said she knew she was going to have to jump out of the car when her kidnappers said they were going to sexually assault her. As soon as the suspect in the passenger side of the car look away to the right, Jordan said she "threw her transmission into neutral, opened the door and fell out."
Jordan said she started running back to the ATM, located at a gas station, because she knew there would be people, even at that late hour. As she ran, Jordan said a "very, very kind woman" stopped for her, even though she had no way of knowing what was going on, and called 9-1-1.
Jordan, a criminal justice major, credit her school work thinking through scenarios with her ability to think and act quickly in this situation. "I proved to myself that I can do it," she said.
"You can calm down. You can make smart decisions. You just have to get inside your own head," she said.
One other thing was critically important to Jordan as she processed her situation and the threat of sexual assault. "I thought back to my mom. She was almost sexually assaulted in college, but she fought back," Jordan said. "I thought, I'm going to be like my mom and I'm going to get out of this," she said.
Lott credits the victims, who he described as helpful and observant, with providing valuable information, and said investigators have forensic evidence.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the University of South Carolina reminded students to travel in pairs or small groups late at night, avoid dark or poorly lit areas, download the RAVE Guardian safety app on their phone and if they ever feel threatened, call 9-1-1 immediately.
The University also encourages any students who fall victim to any type of criminal activity while off-campus to inform USCPD after they call 9-1-1 and work with local authorities. "We have support services available to students and can help ensure local agencies are aware of every incident."
"We are grateful to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for their efforts to investigate these off-campus incidents and bring those responsible to justice," said a spokesman for USC.
The investigation is active and ongoing, according to Lott.
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