Four masked gunmen ran from a Wells Fargo bank with gun blazing Friday morning in Columbia. But before the day ended one of them would be shot to death and the other three taken into custody.
On Saturday, the Richland County Coroner’s Office identified the deceased suspect as Mr. Ramel P. Wright, 23, of Megan Court in Eastover.
Mr. Wright died from a single gunshot wound to the upper body, Coroner Mr. Gary Watts said.
The State Law Enforcement Division said it’s unclear which of the officers from at least two different agencies fired the fatal shot.
Richland County Sheriff’s deputies have charged Mr. Ozzie Carreker, 26, Mr. Rashad Hall, 22, and Mr. Naim Stroman, 21, with armed robbery, three counts of attempted murder and 15 counts of kidnapping, Sheriff Leon Lott said.
The scene unfolded more like a holiday movie when shortly after 10 a.m. deputies responded to the bank at 7305 Two Notch Road to find gun blazing, Sheriff Lott said.
“Upon arrival deputies heard gunshots coming from inside the bank and observed four heavily armed masked gunman firing shots as they exited the business,” Sheriff Lott said.
The Rev. Ray Davis of Spartanburg told The State newspaper he was in town to visit family and had escorted his mother-in-law, Ms. Patricia Kelly, into the bank just before the robbers entered
“As soon as we got in the door, we heard pop, pop, pop,” Mr. Davis said, describing the gunshots.
The robbers, wearing masks and hoodies, jumped onto the counters and threatened to shoot anyone who looked their way. The robbers fired their weapons into glass windows, the ceiling and at the floor, Mr. Davis said.
Bank customers, including a pregnant woman, were forced to lie on the floor as the robbers ordered the manager and an assistant into the vault.
Ms. Dana Chisolm, 47, told the paper she dove behind a counter and covered her face as one of the robbers stood over her.
“He was straddled over me as he was shouting to the tellers,” Ms. Chisolm said. “The gun was hanging over my head.
“They were telling everyone to keep their heads down. They said if we didn’t, we were going to die.”
Then, “The one guy said to the others, ‘If you don’t get the money, I’m going to kill everybody in here,’” Ms. Davis recalled. “That’s when the girls started crying.”
A sheriff’s deputy responded within minutes after the alarm sounded and a Columbia police officer who spotted his blue lights followed to find the violent scene.
The men armed with machine guns and semi-automatic handguns fled the area in a Ford Explorer and continued firing shots at the deputy and police officer as they pursued them on Parklane Road.
The suspects abandoned the vehicle 1.5 miles down the road at the 7300 block of Highview Drive and fled on foot, shedding their clothes and hoodies in nearby bushes, officials said. And SLED, Columbia and Richland County officers set up a perimeter to search for the suspects.
Three Richland County sheriff’s investigators and an off-duty Columbia K9 officer who had joined the hunt cornered two of the suspects in the backyard of a home on Parkingson Street near S.C. 277.
One of the men surrendered, SLED spokesman Mr. Thom Berry said. But one refused to give up, and the officers surrounded him.
The suspect allegedly threatened the officers, saying he was going to kill them, Sheriff Lott said.
“The suspect then reached in his pocket for his gun and the officers fired shots neutralizing the suspect,” Sheriff Lott said.
Mr. Wright died at the scene, Coroner Mr. Watts said.
Mr. Carreker, who had previously had been arrested on assault, gun and drug charges, was arrested without incident, Sheriff Leon Lott said.
After a manhunt, officers caught Mr. Hall and Mr. Stroman and took them into custody.
One was found walking down I-20, and the other was found walking near an apartment complex on Brighton Hill Road, The State reported.
Mr. Hall, who was charged in 2011 with armed robbery, kidnapping and assaulting a police officer, was out on probation and had cut off his leg monitor, officials said.
Mr. Stroman had been arrested on misdemeanors, according to The State paper.
SLED is investigating the shooting, which is department protocol when an officer is involved.
No one inside the bank was injured and officers recovered the stolen money, Sheriff Lott said. It’s unclear how much money was taken.
Outside the bank Ms. Chisolm wiped tears as her daughter, who was holding a baby, hugged her, the State reported.
“I’m thanking God that I’m alive to see my children again,” she said.
Mrs. Harolyn Davis, the pastor’s wife, had been waiting in the car in the bank parking lot when she heard the gunshots.
She had waited in fear, wondering what was happening to her husband and mother inside. She had called her daughter, who later arrived with other family members in tow.
When the pastor and his mother-in-law walked out of the bullet-riddled door of the bank without injury, their family ran across the parking lot to gather them in a long embrace.
“I’m still here,” Mr. Ray Davis said. “The Lord is good.”
Sheriff Lott said investigators are checking to determine if the four suspects were responsible for the bank robbery of TD Bank on Garners Ferry Road on Thursday.
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