Crime & Courts

Five arrested in armored car heist

Five men were arrested on Wednesday in connection with Friday’s armored car robbery in Columbia that authorities say is one of the largest ever robberies in U.S. history.

The robbery was an inside job, said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

The five arrested, along with a sixth man who is a fugitive, allegedly removed $9.8 million from the truck after overpowering the truck’s two guards, Lott said. The guards had stopped at a gas station on Bluff Road in Columbia in the early morning hours Friday.

Two of the five arrested worked for Express Teller Armored Car Services, including one of the security guards who was in the truck.

Lott said the truck was making a special run and had a higher than usual amount of cash on board.

The trucks don’t normally stop for gas when carrying any amount of money, Lott said. That made authorities suspicious, he said.

There was a total of $18 million on the truck, Lott said. The $9.8 million taken puts the heist among the top five largest ever in the United States, he said.

Authorities said they recovered some but not all of the money. Lott declined to say how much is missing.

Charged with armed robbery, kidnapping and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature are:

  • Darryl C. Frierson, 21, of Columbia
  • Domonique D. Blakney, 19, of Darlington
  • Kelby D. Blakney, 20, also of Darlington
  • Jeremy M. McPhail, 19, of Society Hill
  • A fifth man, Paul J. Whitaker, 21, of Sumter, is charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

    Dominic La Shaun Lyde, 22, also of Darlington, is being sought as a fugitive. He is charged with armed robbery, kidnapping and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

    Whitaker and Frierson worked for Express Teller Armored Car Services, Lott said.

    Whitaker didn’t actually participate in the robbery, Lott said.

    Frierson was one of the two employees on the truck, Lott said. He told police he moved into the driver’s seat at the gas station, after the original driver was hit in the face, and was forced by the robbers to drive to a dirt road, where the truck was unloaded, Lott said.