Report: South Strand restaurant robbery suspect used a BB gun

Report: South Strand restaurant robbery suspect used a BB gun
David Leland Yelton. Source: Georgetown County Sheriff's Office.
David Leland Yelton. Source: Georgetown County Sheriff's Office.

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A suspect wanted in connection with the armed robberies of several South Strand restaurants has been arrested by the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office. The suspect apparently used a BB gun in the robberies, according to a newly-obtained report from the GCSO.

David Leland Yelton, 28, of Myrtle Beach, has been arrested and charged with five counts of armed robbery and two counts of kidnapping for five robberies of three different restaurants in Georgetown County. He was also charged with one count of possession of narcotics. Horry County detectives are also securing warrants charging him with the robberies of several Horry County restaurants.

At a bond hearing last Thursday in Georgetown County, Yelton's bond was set at $30,000 for each count of robbery, and $2,000 for the possession of narcotics charge, for a total bond of over $152,000. Bond for the two counts of kidnapping was not set Thursday.

At about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 16, Horry County Police officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at Nagoya Restaurant in Conway. The employees told police that the suspect entered the business through the open rear door, presented a handgun, and was given about $300 in cash. The suspect was wearing a hooded jacket, sun glasses, and had a red handkerchief over his face.

Several hours later, at about 1 a.m., a suspicious vehicle parked on a dirt portion of Petigru Road was observed by South Carolina Highway Patrol. The trooper found Yelton asleep inside the vehicle, and items found in the vehicle were consistent with items described in the recent robberies, authorities confirmed.

According to a GCSO incident report, the pistol that appeared to be the gun seen in the surveillance videos of the robberies was later found to be a BB pellet gun. While searching Yelton's vehicle, deputies also found a syringe and a spoon with an off-white, rock-like substance that was believed to be crack cocaine.

Troopers contacted GCSO and deputies conducted a search warrant at Yelton's residence on New River Road. Yelton was then taken into custody and housed at the Georgetown County Detention Center.

GCSO's Carrie Cuthbertson confirmed that while the investigation remains active, they discovered items consistent with the items involved in several armed robberies of South Strand restaurants. She said that two counts of armed robbery are for the robberies of the China Wok in Litchfield on October 14 and again on November 23. Two other counts of armed robbery are for the China Chef in Murrells Inlet on November 25 and again on December 1.

The fifth count of armed robbery and the two counts of kidnapping are for when two employees at Jersey Mike's Subs in Murrells Inlet were forced into the freezer at gunpoint, and the restaurant was robbed of an undisclosed amount of cash on December 10. The possession of narcotics charge stems from Yelton's arrest early Wednesday morning.

Horry County Police believe that Yelton is also responsible for the recent robberies of the Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Murrells Inlet, the Lucky Panda Restaurant in Horry County, and the Tuesday night burglary in Conway.

Lt. Raul Denis with the Horry County Police department says the description witnesses were able to give of Yelton and his car after the robbery at Nagoya is what eventually lead to Yelton's arrest.

"Because of that robbery our guys were able to put out a description of him and his car and we caught a lucky break," Lt. Raul Denis said.

"This is another fine example of the community, media, and law enforcement coming together for the purpose of solving crimes," said Georgetown County Sheriff Lane Cribb.

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