Goose Creek police's own DNA database helped solve a robbery that left a Zaxby's employee shot on Christmas Eve.
Christopher Darnell Wilson, 25, of Swamp Fox Lane and Donte Samar Brown, 23, of Jean Wells Drive each face seven felony charges, including six counts of armed robbery, five counts of kidnapping and one count of attempted murder. The robbers barged into the St. James Avenue restaurant just after midnight and took five workers' wallets and cellphones, according to the Goose Creek Police Department.
Police Capt. Dave Soderberg said Wednesday that both Wilson and Brown are felons. After one arrest, the police collected Wilson's DNA and added it to a database that the department started more than a year ago.
Experts from a Hilton Head Island laboratory, Intelligenetics, matched that sample to DNA found on a ski mask discarded in the nearby woods. Subsequent searches of Wilson's home also turned up valuables taken from the restaurant.
Soderberg said that developing the local database and contracting with a private company has its advantages over the State Law Enforcement Department's lab, where backlogs can delay DNA testing for weeks.
"We were able to get the bad guys off the street two days after sending the sample out," he said. "In this day and age, when witness accounts aren't as credible in the courts, DNA is a wonderful thing."
The Zaxby's had closed for the day when two armed robbers walked in and held five employees at gunpoint. As one of the gunmen frisked a worker, his gun went off and a bullet struck the employee's leg. Investigators don't know whether the shooting was intentional.
"They really took advantage of these people," Soderberg said. "They knew what they were doing, and it was terrifying for the victims."
Wilson and Brown were arrested during the first week of January, and they remained jailed without bail Wednesday.
Soderberg said that Goose Creek police officers routinely ask those arrested for DNA and that they often agree. He wasn't sure how many samples the department had gathered. He added that the database targets "10 percent of the population that commits 90 percent of the crimes" in Goose Creek.
"A lot of departments are not using this to the degree they should be," Soderberg said. "But DNA is so specific; you really can't go wrong."
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.