A man's attempt to cash in stolen lottery tickets led Charleston authorities to a jackpot of burglary, armed robbery and drug charges this week.
Police arrested three suspects accused of robbing one convenience store and breaking into another Sunday after they found a pellet gun and clothing linked to the crimes inside their vehicle. One of the suspects was found passed out inside the car with a heroin needle hanging out of his arm, authorities said.
Charleston County sheriff's investigators on Tuesday charged Daniel Thomas Hunter, 18, of Charleston and Thomas Lawton Evans, 28, of Pinopolis with armed robbery and second-degree burglary. Melissa Renee Ingram, 25, of Windsor, who is accused of being the driver of the getaway car, is charged with burglary, accessory after the fact and armed robbery after the fact.
Charleston police charged all three with possession of drug paraphernalia, receiving stolen goods, unlawful carrying of a handgun in a vehicle, possession of marijuana, possession of heroin and possession of a controlled substance.
The case began to unfold at about 11 a.m. Sunday when Charleston police responded to a call about a man trying to cash in stolen lottery tickets at a Rutledge Avenue convenience store.
The man told officers that he bought 15 tickets for $10 from two men and a woman. As police were arresting the man for receiving stolen goods, he told officers that the people who sold him the tickets were sitting in a white car in the parking lot, according to a Charleston Police incident report.
Officers approached the car and found one of the men in the rear seat passed out. He was sweating and had a needle in his arm, the report says.
The woman sitting in a front passenger seat told officers she had just shot up heroin and was waiting for her boyfriend, who was inside the store.
When the third suspect returned to the car, police searched the car and found seven needles, a heroin cooking spoon, marijuana cigarettes on the floor, about a gram of heroin, six Zoloft pills and 11 Alprazolam pills.
Police contacted the Sheriff's Office after they also found evidence linking the suspects to a burglary that happened at 12:45 a.m. Sunday at the Maybank Highway Sunoco and an armed robbery that occurred at 1:47 a.m. at a BP on Savannah Highway, both of which are in the county.
Investigators said they found stolen cigarettes, stolen lottery tickets, a black pellet gun used in the armed robbery and clothes that matched the description of those worn during both the burglary and the robbery.
Affidavits say both Hunter and Evans admitted to the crimes while Ingram told investigators she was a passenger in the car and only saw the men go into the stores and come out with the items.
All three are being held at the Charleston County Detention Center. A bond hearing was set for Tuesday evening.