Victim shoots suspect in armed robbery at Horry Co. church parking lot

Victim shoots suspect in armed robbery at Horry Co. church parking lot

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A suspect was shot by the man he robbed at gunpoint at the parking lot of the Grand Strand Baptist Church off Highway 501 Thursday night, according to a Conway Police report. The suspect is now in the hospital.

The victim of the armed robbery, a 46-year-old Conway man, told police that he was conducting security at the church at about 11 p.m. when the suspect approached him and asked for change for $20. When the victim got the change, the suspect pointed a black handgun at the suspect's stomach and told him to give him the money.

The victim handed over the money, and as the suspect began to walk away, the victim pulled out his weapon, the report states. That's when the suspect shot at the victim, but the round hit victim's driver's side car door. The victim said he then returned fire, and as the suspect tried to shoot back, the suspect's gun jammed. The victim told police he emptied his weapon as he shot at the suspect.

The suspect then ran to the nearby Tanger Outlets, told a bystander that he had been shot, and asked to take him to the hospital. The suspect then collapsed in the parking lot near Ruby Tuesday, where he was treated by EMS on scene and taken to a nearby hospital.

When police arrived on scene, one witness flagged them down and pointed them to a gun on the roadside which may have been thrown by the suspect, the report states. The victim also approached a responding officer and told him he was the shooter, and that he did have a firearm on him at the time. Police secured that weapon, and he then advised police that the weapon he actually shot was inside his vehicle. Police then secured the vehicle and spoke to the victim.

As of Friday morning at 10 a.m., the suspect is still in the hospital, and his status is not known.

Jerry Pelfrey, an associate pastor of Grand Strand Baptist Church, explained what happened after the shots rang out.

"And at that point the person from our church that was involved followed him, asking him what he could do to help, 'let me call an ambulance,'" Pelfrey said. "At that point one of our other members called an ambulance; we had a medic on the scene and at that point he went out and treated the young man."

Pelfrey said they knew the man that was shot was allegedly the armed robber.

"Yes, everybody knew I mean what was going on because again we're in the people business," Pelfrey said.

Hanna Sellers, who works third shift at the Krispy Kreme store across Hwy. 501, said she was getting out of her car at 10:56 p.m., right before the start of the shift, when she heard between six and eight gunshots.

"I didn't think it was gunshots at first," Sellers said.

Carolee Mason, who is the third-shift manager at that location, said her employee came inside scared after hearing the gunfire.

"All of a sudden … we were taking a customer's order and all of a sudden everybody (first responders) started coming," Mason said.

According to Mason, she called Horry County dispatch to see if a suspect was in custody, or if they needed to lock their doors.

Mason said she was informed that a suspect was in custody. She added she did lock the doors for around three minutes while on the phone with dispatch.

Pelfrey said the shooting happened when they were setting up for an event scheduled this weekend at the church.

"We're here to love the community, in fact we're having this big event for the community this weekend and that's what we're here for, we're setting up for the event and this just happened and this was just bad timing, " Pelfrey said.

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