2 men face armed robbery charges after chase

Marquine Benbow

A pursuit in North Charleston late Tuesday ended with a car crashing into a fire hydrant and two men facing criminal charges in a pair of armed robberies.

William Coaxum, 26, and Marquine Benbow, 17, are accused of robbing North Charleston Inn on West Montague Avenue and Pizza Hut on Leeds Avenue. Both face two counts of armed robbery, police said.

Police also are investigating the North Charleston men in connection with several other recent holdups in the area, public information officer Spencer Pryor said.

At the time of his arrest, Coaxum was already awaiting trial in connection with an April armed robbery at Picadilly Cafeteria in North Charleston.

The two men were picked up Tuesday after a quick succession of events led to a chase and a wreck at Bolton Street and Rivers Avenue.

At 10:42 p.m., two men walked into North Charleston Inn, pulled out a shotgun and demanded money from a clerk. She handed over $396 and then ran for help when the robber holding the gun was distracted. The robbers drove off in an orange car.

About 10 minutes later, two men with a long-barreled gun forced a Pizza Hut driver to let them inside the business. One robber ordered the manager at gunpoint to hand over a cash register till. The robbers fled with $133.

Police were investigating the two holdups when an officer spotted an orange Suzuki Reno with two men inside at Dorchester Road and Meeting Street. When he tried to stop the car, the vehicle sped off. The pursuit wound its way to Bolton Street, where the suspects' car slid into a hydrant.

Coaxum reportedly ran from the vehicle and into the path of an oncoming police cruiser. He collided with the side of the cruiser, struck his elbow on the windshield and fell to the ground.

Benbow also tried to run but was captured after he a jumped a fence on Clifton Street and tried to crawl underneath a car, police said.

Police recovered a shotgun. Coaxum had $396 in his pocket and $622 in his wallet. Benbow carried about $105.

Benbow was taken to the Charleston County jail. Coaxum was taken to Charleston Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for a broken right elbow and a broken left ankle. An officer also was treated for minor injuries.