Myrtle Beach police charged a man with robbery, kidnapping and other charges in connection with at least seven armed robberies in the city since April, according to authorities.
Rolando Omar Vela was charged with armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of a handgun during the commission of a felony in connection with the incidents. Other charges are expected to be filed.
Police responding to an armed robbery Sunday at a pizza shop in the 5500 block of Kings Highway arrested Vela when they found him hiding along Robert Grissom Parkway, Capt. David Knipes said. Additional details about his arrest and that robbery were not immediately available.
During that incident, an employee told police he was on the phone with a customer when two men who had their shirts covering their faces came into the business through a back door, Knipes said. The victim said the men pointed a gun at him and demanded the money before they ran out.
Officers set up a perimeter, searched the area and found Vela, who later confessed to the six other robberies in the city, according to police. He is being held at the Myrtle Beach Jail pending a bond hearing.
Vela is charged in connection with the following robberies:
• On April 27 at the Tienda Mexicana at 1111 Third Ave. S., an employee said an armed man demanded money when she opened the register for a transaction, according to the report. The suspect got an undetermined amount of money and ran out of the store. Police obtained video surveillance of the robbery.
• On May 3 at the Dollar Tree at 1110 Seaboard St., an employee said an armed man came to the register, demanded the money and forced another employee to open the store safe, according to the report. The suspect took a bank deposit bag and ran out of the store.
• On May 20 at Hungry Howies pizza shop at 1601 S. Kings Highway, an employee told police that a man came in, grabbed an employee and forced her to open the safe and took the money before he ran out of the business. Another man was seen waiting in a nearby vehicle in which the suspect fled.
• On June 4 at the Dollar General at 2000 N. Kings Highway, an employee said a man came to the cash register, demanded the safe be opened and threatened to shoot her and another person in the store, according to the report. The victim gave the suspect the money and he ran out of the store.
• On June 22, a 37-year-old man told police that an armed man entered his business, Nuestra Tierra, and held a gun to his neck and threatened to kill him, according to the report. The suspect forced the victim to open the cash register and then took a bank bag before running out of the business.
• On July 10, police were called to the Dollar General at 6213 N. Kings Highway after a man went into the store armed with a gun and ordered employees to give him cash from the registers, according to the report. The suspect, who wore latex gloves, ordered an employee to open the safe and then took more cash before he ran out of the store to a vehicle waiting in the parking lot.
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723.