Armed robbery suspect rams officer's car, jumps in river

Robert Joseph Edwards (Source: Brunswick County Sheriff's Office)
Robert Joseph Edwards (Source: Brunswick County Sheriff's Office)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - One man is in custody after an armed robbery and high speed police pursuit through Horry County Tuesday evening.

The armed robbery suspect, according to the incident report WMBF News attained from Horry County Police, entered a store at 3940 Socastee Boulevard around 7:55 p.m. Tuesday and took a Blow Pop up to the register.

That's when he pulled out a can of pepper spray and told the clerk, "give me all your money or I'm going to hurt you."

The store employee reports she handed the man $200 in cash and he then fled the store with the money and the Blow Pop, getting into a black vehicle with North Carolina tags.

The store does have surveillance video of the incident but that has not yet been made available.

Reports show one officer responding to the armed robbery call spotted the suspect's vehicle in traffic heading northbound on Highway 17 Bypass, and pulling up next to the car noted the driver matched the description of the suspect.

A chase began, heading northbound on Highway 31 toward Little River. Officers tried to employ stop sticks to stop the suspect but he used an exit ramp to avoid them.

The suspect led officers into Brunswick County, and eventually pulled onto River Road, which the report states was not known to be a dead end.

The report continues that the suspect pulled into a restaurant's parking lot, slowed down, and tried to shift into reverse with officers behind him and in front of him.

Eyewitness Andrea Ripley says Edwards almost struck her car with family members inside.

"The Mustang came probably within 10 feet of my vehicle with my son and mother in it," Ripley says. "We just feared for out lives because it was coming right at us."

Trapped and turning his wheels slightly, the suspect struck an officer's car, then stopped and tried to flee on foot when he jumped into the river.

Jumping in behind him, the suspect surrendered to authorities on the opposite bank.

The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office took custody of the suspect, 27-year-old Robert Joseph Edwards of Mechanicsville, VA, to face charges for assault with a deadly weapon.

Edwards is also facing charges from the NC Highway Patrol for reckless driving. Charges stemming from the armed robbery and chase are pending in Horry County.

Ripley says she credits police for preventing any injuries during the chase and arrest.

"They did their job," Ripley says. "They were trying to do their job to protect people."

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