Crime

A hail of bullets, high-speed chase: North Myrtle Beach bank robbery suspects convicted

Bond denied for North Myrtle Beach bank robbery suspects

Judge Blake Martin explains why he is denying bond for three men charged with kidnapping, bank robbery and attempted murder on Thursday, May 5, 2016. The charges stem from the South State Bank robbery on North Myrtle Beach’s Main Street around 11
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Judge Blake Martin explains why he is denying bond for three men charged with kidnapping, bank robbery and attempted murder on Thursday, May 5, 2016. The charges stem from the South State Bank robbery on North Myrtle Beach’s Main Street around 11

Three people were convicted Monday for a 2016 North Myrtle Beach bank robbery where they fired their weapons and stole $30,000, according to U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon.

Lance Hardiman, Justin Pressley and Rodrick Berklery were found guilty in federal court for robbing the South State Bank in North Myrtle Beach in May 2016.

Hardiman was found guilty on all counts of armed bank robbery, witness tampering, being a felon in possession of a firearm and two counts of using a firearm in furtherance of crimes of violence. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years to run consecutive to any other sentences imposed and a maximum penalty of life in federal prison. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Pressley pleaded guilty to using a firearm in furtherance of a bank robbery and witness tampering and agreed to a 25-year federal prison sentence.

Berklery pleaded guilty to using a firearm in furtherance of a bank robbery and witness tampering and agreed to a 30-year sentence.

Authorities said the men entered and robbed the bank with handguns while wearing masks and gloves. Hardiman stood at the door while Pressley and Berklery fired their weapons and jumped over the counter. The men forced the tellers to empty their tills into a bag and threatened their lives. They stole more than $30,000 before fleeing the bank.

Bank employees were able to trip a silent alarm and put a dye pack inside the money bag. Employees also were able to identify the vehicle — a silver Chevrolet Impala.

A detective responding to the call saw the vehicle, turned on his blue lights and took off at a high speed. The officer followed the Impala for about 5 miles as Pressley fired an AK-47 out of the back window during the chase through a residential neighborhood where the suspects reached speeds over 80 miles per hour.

Hardiman, Pressley and Berklery kept driving toward Longs, where one of them lived. They continued to firing at the officer, hitting his vehicle twice. One round missed the officer by less than an inch. The officer thought he had been hit and crashed his car.

Another officer was able to deploy spike strips. Hardiman fired out the window at the lieutenant, hitting his car, as Berklery swerved to miss the spike strip. Berklery lost control of the car and drove it off the road, and the three men then ran from the scene into the woods.

A manhunt started and lasted for several hours. Each man was found in different areas.

Authorities said during the recent trial, they found two of the men had previously robbed another bank in Horry County and a restaurant.

“The case was successful due to the courage and persistence of all involved,” said 15th Circuit Chief Deputy Solicitor Scott Hixson. “From the bravery of the tellers, to the officers who chased and disabled the defendants, to the numerous agencies who participated in the manhunt — this outcome would not have been possible without so many people in the community coming together to hold the violent individuals accountable for their acts. We would like to thank our federal partners in FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their dedication to ensure a just outcome occurred.”

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