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Police call off search for carjacking, robbery suspect, patrols still on lookout

Sgt. Robert Kegler of the Horry County Police talks to a resident at the intersection of S.C. 90 and International Drive during a search July 26, 2010, for a carjacking suspect.
Sgt. Robert Kegler of the Horry County Police talks to a resident at the intersection of S.C. 90 and International Drive during a search July 26, 2010, for a carjacking suspect. By Randall Hill /

Horry County police have called off a search in a wooded area off S.C. 90 for a man wanted on kidnapping and robbery charges in Ohio and is connected to a carjacking in North Myrtle Beach and a robbery at a Myrtle Beach pharmacy, according to authorities.

Horry County police have been looking for Robert Michael Barnes, 29, with bloodhound tracking dogs in a 4-mile wooded area along International Drive about 2 miles from S.C. 90, Horry County police Sgt. Robert Kegler said.

As of about 6:15 p.m., police called off the search, Kegler said. He said there will continue to be patrols in the area.

"The search didn't lead to his capture," Kegler said. "At this time, the dog team is being deactivated. We don't know what his plan is, but he should be considered armed and dangerous."

Residents in that area have been warned to lock their doors and report any suspicious activity, Kegler said. Barnes is considered a threat.

Police were led to the area after they found a 2011 Toyota Avalon speeding along S.C. 90 and tried to stop it, Kegler said. The vehicle turned onto International Drive, and the driver fled the vehicle and ran into the wooded area.

Police said the vehicle was stolen this morning from a woman in North Myrtle Beach at a convenience store. The woman told police she was carjacked by a man who drove up in a stolen van, according to Nicole Aiello, the city's public information officer.

Dispatchers were called at 10:59 a.m. today for the incident, which was reported to have occurred at the Tiger Mart located at Second Avenue North and U.S. 17, Aiello said.

The woman told police that she pulled up to the gas pump and the man in the van engaged her in conversation while she pumped gas, Aiello said. The woman told police after she got her gas and got inside her vehicle the man came over and pulled her out of the vehicle and took her car.

The man left the van at the gas station and police learned the van was reported stolen from Ohio, Aiello said. The man fled the city in the woman’s vehicle, which was the Toyota.

Police learned that the same man then robbed a Myrtle Beach area CVS earlier today, according to Capt. David Knipes.

Barnes went into the CVS pharmacy located at 38th Avenue North and U.S. 17 Bypass at 12:03 p.m. Monday and took Oxycontin, Knipes said.

He fled the store parking lot in a white Toyota and ended up in the police chase with Horry County officers onto S.C. 90, authorities said.

Ohio authorities issued warrants for Barnes on charges of kidnapping and robbery, Kegler said.

Barnes is wanted in Boardman, Ohio on two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of kidnapping, and two counts of auto theft, according to Boardman police officials.

The incidents occurred within several hours of each other the morning of July 22 when Barnes held a store clerk hostage at a Circle K and stole cash, cigarettes, and the clerk's vehicle, said Sgt. Glen Riddle with the Boardman Police Department.

Barnes then walked into a drug store later that morning and held a 74-year-old woman hostage as he demanded Oxycontin and Vicodin from the store clerk; he then fled in the 74-year-old customer's van, Riddle said. The van is the same one found in North Myrtle Beach.

Riddle said Barnes has previous drug use and shoplifting charges.

Arrest warrants had not been issued as of Monday evening for Barnes in North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach or Horry County, officials said.

In Horry County, authorities plan to charge Barnes with failing to stop for police officer, Kegler said.

Anyone with information on Barnes’ whereabouts is asked to call the Horry County Police Department at 248-1520 or 911.