A man accused of a string of armed robberies told two judges he never meant to hurt anybody when he held up stores at gunpoint.
Jerry Ernest Ballard, 29, of Midland Park Road in North Charleston, is accused of a string of holdups or attempted robberies over the past six weeks. The incidents include trying to rob a store at gunpoint while a police officer was inside and firing a shot into a wall beside the head of clerk.
“I’m not going to say that I didn’t do the crimes that I admitted to doing,” Ballard told Magistrate Linda Lombard Thursday afternoon. “I want it to be known that there was never any harm done to any of the victims of the crimes.”
Ballard was at bond court twice Thursday. He appeared before Lombard on a charge of holding up the Kangaroo store at 1805 Savannah Highway just before 1 a.m. Saturday. He would appear later in the day on charges of six armed robberies or attempts in North Charleston.
An officer told Lombard that Ballard’s appearance might have to be delayed until they could call in an assault team to subdue him, because “he’s really kicking the doors.” But Ballard eventually calmed down enough to stand before the video camera and try to convince the judge he wasn’t dangerous.
Lombard interrupted Ballard’s self-defense to ask if his gun was loaded. Ballard said it was, but added that he told people he was robbing that he didn’t want to hurt them.
“I don’t care what you say when you point a gun in somebody’s face, you understand?” Lombard said.
She set his bail at $550,000 — $500,000 for the armed robbery charge and $50,000 on a weapons charge.
Clinton Elton Atkins, 32, of Detroit, is also charged with armed robbery in the West Ashley holdup. Lombard noted that Atkins has a long rap sheet in Michigan and South Carolina, including second-degree burglary, grand larceny and purse snatching. She set his bail at $500,000.
Candice Lajoy Collins, 31, of Midland Park Road, was charged with armed robbery.
Police said she drove the getaway vehicle after Ballard and Atkins went into the store. Lombard set her bail at $200,000.
Ballard was back in bond court Thursday night for the North Charleston charges, this time in front of Magistrate Alvin Bligen. Once again, Ballard insisted that he never would have hurt anybody.
“I tried to make at all times the situation as safe as possible,” he told the judge.
A Circle K clerk who prompted a gunshot when Ballard decided she wasn’t moving fast enough stood up to testify otherwise.
“I felt the bullet go right by my head,” she said. “That was my life on the line.”
That robbery took place at the Circle K at 3855 W. Montague Ave. at 3:58 a.m. July 12. Ballard admitted he fired the shot but insisted he wasn’t trying to shoot the clerk.
Bligen added another $1 million to Ballard’s bail amount, including $200,000 for attempted murder.
He also added another $200,000 to Collins’ bail for her involvement in two of the robberies in North Charleston.
Collins’ mother stood up front crying, along with two other relatives.
She told the judge her daughter got involved with Ballard when he helped her move into an apartment a couple of months ago.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.