The Richland County Sheriff's Department on Thursday announced the arrest of two teen suspects in connection with an alleged spree of kidnapping and robberies in the Columbia area.
Raquan Green, 17, and a 15-year-old have been implicated in the a string of armed robberies, carjackings and kidnappings that stretched from July 3-26, the department said.
"There have been seven separate incidents of armed robberies, some to include carjacking and kidnapping along the Bluff/Shop road corridor," according to a statement from the department. "Investigators discovered that the suspects began targeting delivery drivers by committing armed robberies. The crimes then escalated to carjacking and kidnapping victims."
The crimes were racially-motivated, said Sheriff Leon Lott, during a press conference Thursday afternoon. The suspects stated that they did not like white people and that they were only going to target white people.
When the suspects found out that one of their victims was black, they apologized to her and let her go, Lott said.
The incidents happened late at night while delivery drivers were out and students were moving into housing or leaving apartments in the area, the department said. The suspects stole cash, cell phones and various electronics.
They are as follows:
- July 3 at 11:30 p.m. — a delivery driver from China Wing Basket robbed at gunpoint on the 100 block of Aster Circle.
- July 15 at 7:50 p.m. — a delivery driver from Teapot Chinese Restaurant was robbed at gunpoint at 1051 Southern, the Village at Columbia Apartments.
- July 17 at 7:13 p.m. — a delivery driver was robbed and assaulted on Childs Street.
- July 19 at 11:40 p.m. — a delivery driver was kidnapped and abducted at the Village at Columbia Apartments.
- July 25 at 1:30 a.m. — the victim was kidnapped and abducted at 112 Silo Court, Stadium Suites.
- July 25 at 2 a.m. — the victim was robbed, carjacked and kidnapped at Stadium Suites.
- July 26 at 1:15 a.m. — the victim was robbed and kidnapped at the Village at Columbia Apartments.
"This was a crime spree," Lott said. "They would not have stopped. ... This group was escalating."
The incidents increased in severity to the point where once incident nearly turned into a sexual assault, and another saw the suspects put a pistol against another victim's chest, ask if they knew what Russian Roulette was and pull the trigger, he said.
"They were just theives," Lott said. "They were just robbers and kidnappers and thugs. ... And they used race as part of what they were doing."
One of the victims, identified by authorities only as Jordan, addressed reporters during Thursday's press conference.
Jordan said she had gotten off work at a restaurant late and got back to her apartment complex when she was approached by three males after parking.
Lott said investigators are still trying to determine who the third male is.
The men forced Jordan into the passenger side of the vehicle at gunpoint but couldn't figure out how to operate the manual transmission in her vehicle.
The third suspect left and Green and the 15-year-old forced her to drive to an ATM.
"At this point, I'm trying to calm down," Jordan said. "I'm running through situations in my mind, can I crash the car, can I get someone's attention, can I flash the lights without them noticing? All those were nos."
While withdrawing the money, she decided that she would have to jump out of the car. She left her seatbelt unbuckled and hoped the suspects wouldn't notice the car's safety chime beeping.
As they drove out of the lot, the suspects told her to drive them somewhere where they said they planned to sexually assault her, Jordan said.
After missing a turn, she sensed an opportunity for escape.
"I threw it into neutral and just opened the door and fell out," Jordan said. "As I got up, I started running back towards the Village, back towards the gas stations that were 24 hours because I knew there were people there."
As Jordan ran, a driver stopped and called 911.
Jordan told reporters that her mother was nearly a victim of sexual assault while she was in college but fought back.
"I thought, I'm going to be strong like my mom and I'm going to get myself out of this," she said.