Recent home invasions similar, but not linked
SUMMERVILLE — Daniel Pryse Robinson knew adversity.
People with information about the fatal home invasion on Brooks Loop should call the Dorchester Sheriff’s Office at 832-0300 or Crime Stoppers at 554-1111.
He had dealt with it until the day he died.
As a toddler, he was playing with a lighter when he accidentally burned down his parents’ house. The 3-year-old apologized to his mother and took the blame.
And when he saw others cowering in the face of hard times, he consoled them, family members said. He once spotted a stranger crying on a bench, so he walked over and offered a hug.
The 24-year-old’s most recent ordeal came unexpectedly during his sleep Sunday morning, when three masked burglars kicked down a door to the Brooks Loop home he had recently moved into. Relatives said Robinson could have escaped, but he instead ran to the bedroom where his roommate was being attacked.
The men ransacked the place for 40 minutes, and at some point before they left, one of them fatally shot Robinson and wounded his roommate.
The man whose mother said was at the “wrong place at the wrong time” became the latest victim in a string of unsolved home invasions in the Summerville area over the last month. Authorities say they likely are not linked and that residents should not be alarmed.
“They were there for someone else,” said his mother, Linda Amiano, 50, of Cross. “He could have ran out, but he chose to stay and fight.
“When things were bad, he was still all good.”
The Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office has responded to three violent burglaries recently, but Lt. Tony Phinney said that despite similarities — three armed invaders demanding certain items in each of the cases — “there’s nothing connecting them other than multiple people in the house.”
Regardless, the spike has prompted representatives from security firms to canvass the neighborhoods and peddle their burglar alarms, residents said.
“These incidents don’t show the same type of motive,” Phinney said. “Multiple people entered the houses with a different purpose.”
In the most recent case, Robinson’s roommate, a 56-year-old woman, told deputies that the burglars had yelled, “Where the money at, where the drugs at?”
Robinson’s roommate hesitated to speak with deputies Sunday morning, but she told them that only one of the three masked men was armed.
“They think we had money in here,” she said, according to the report.
In the master bedroom, a responding deputy found the roommate sitting in a corner. Her arm was bleeding.
A mattress covered Robinson’s head, and his shirt was pulled over his face, the deputy reported. He suffered several gunshot wounds to his chest.
Community members have said Robinson dove in front of his roommate and took the bullets to save her life. But Phinney said the account is “inconsistent with the information” detectives have gathered from the roommate and from the evidence at the scene.
“That didn’t happen,” he said. “There’s evidence to the contrary.”
Less than three miles from the Brooks Loop mobile home, the recent stretch of home invasions started March 29, when an Apache Drive homeowner and her three children were awakened by men who apparently broke into the wrong residence.
An incident report said one man kicked in the mother’s bedroom door, pointed a gun at her head and took her cellphone. She told the man to take what he wanted but to leave the children alone.
“Don’t worry,” the burglar said, according to the report. “Wrong place, wrong person.”
The three men took advantage of the situation, however, and stole $1,861 worth of jewelry, computer equipment, firearms and electronics, then left in a car that was later stopped by a deputy. Though the men ran away, Phinney said investigators have developed three suspects in the case but have not made any arrests.
Then on April 15 on Grand Oaks Drive in Ladson, a 32-year-old woman reported that she was confronted by two armed burglars — one with a gun, the other with a knife — as a third man urged them to hurry up. They used an extension cord to tie up the victim in a bathroom but left without stealing anything, according to a report.
Search for killers
Investigators have no suspects in that case or in the Brooks Loop shooting, which is one of two unsolved homicides in recent weeks for the Sheriff’s Office.
In the other, investigators do not suspect a burglary in the April 6 shooting of 38-year-old Johnny Young Jr. in his Hope Drive home, though a back-door window was reportedly broken.
Young was a married father of seven, according to an obituary. He also was engaged to be married to a different woman, who had informed him the day before he died that she was pregnant, according to an incident report.
‘A beautiful kid’
Outside the Brooks Loop home this week, Robinson’s friend and neighbor, 23-year-old Joel Hiemstra, constructed a memorial of crosses, photos, poems and religious figurines.
Hiemstra said they had watched movies together and ate Chinese-style fried chicken wings the night before the shooting.
“He never really talked about his problems,” Hiemstra said. “He always had a smile on his face.”
As Amiano wept while visiting the crime scene for the first time Friday, she remained hopeful that investigators would track down the men responsible for killing the youngest of her four children.
She described Robinson, who doesn’t have a criminal record, as an aspiring chef who had an affinity for steak and onions. He had worked on and off with local Kangaroo Express and Tastee Freez stores, Amiano said.
She added that a friend has contacted congressional representatives and requested that a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol be sent to family members in Robinson’s honor.
“We don’t know exactly what happened, but we know it had nothing to do with my son,” Amiano said. “He was a beautiful kid. He was just trying to survive.
“Now we have to catch the people who took that from him.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.