Crime

‘I’m a doofus’: Brandon Council details CresCom robbery, double-murder in police interview

“I’ve made some bad decisions, and it’s time for me to pay some consequences.”

That is what Brandon Council told FBI investigators hours after he was arrested in connection to a double murder and robbery at the Conway CresCom bank.

For over 90 minutes, a handcuffed Council told agents about the days before the killings and why he shot two employees at the bank. A video of the interview was played during Council’s death penalty trial in federal court on Wednesday.

Council told the officers how he was essentially homeless and had no money. He went to the bank on Aug. 21, 2017, with a plan to shoot people to make his escape easier.

“I pray to God those people are still alive,” Council said, “but at the same time, I knew someone was going to get hurt that day because of circumstances.”

Earlier robberies

Days after the killing of Donna Major and Katie Skeen, police apprehended Council in Greenville, North Carolina. He visited a Super 8 motel looking for a room, but an employee recognized him from news reports and declined to rent him a room.

The Super 8 employee called the police and let them know Council was in the area.

The employee, other witnesses and Greenville police officers took the witness stand during the second day of the guilty phase of Council’s trial.

Greenville police spotted Council driving a white Mercedes — which he bought with money from the CresCom robbery — and followed him to a Baymont motel. There, they approached the suspect and Council briefly ran before police tackled and arrested him.

On Wednesday, Council’s defense team was more aggressive in its cross-examinations. The lawyers let some witnesses on Tuesday be excused without asking any questions. They questioned Greenville police of Council’s actions when they approached. The officers admitted Council was not hostile or aggressive during his arrest other than briefly fleeing.

At the Greenville police station, FBI agents spoke to Council inside a small room. Council’s left arm was handcuffed to the wall, though he tried to conceal his arm in his T-shirt sleeve.

Council provided details of his life and his crime spree and at the end of the interview asked if he was cooperative.

Council lived in North Carolina and had family and girlfriend trouble in August 2017. He was released from a North Carolina prison in November 2016 after serving six years behind bars. He worked at a nearby Wendy’s.

His father accused him of selling drugs out of their Wilson, North Carolina house, Council said.

That fight led to Council being kicked out of the home and moving in with his girlfriend. He then robbed a Raleigh-area Food Lion for a couple hundred bucks. Days later, he robbed a Wilson, North Carolina, BB&T for a couple thousand dollars.

“I almost got away with it,” he said, though it’s unclear if he was referring to that robbery or all of his crimes.

Council said when he got a message from his mom that the police stopped by his house looking for him in connection to the BB&T robbery that is when he skipped town and came to Conway. When agents asked why he came to South Carolina, Council said with a smile “because I just robbed a bank in North Carolina.”

He stayed for a few days at the Conway Express Inn, across the street from the CresCom. Council ran out of money, so he decided to go to the bank.

Inside CresCom

“What did you do?” an agent asks.

“I did it,” Council says, without further explanation. “I don’t know if I can bring words out of my mouth to say it.”

Council said he took a .22 caliber gun — one he bought from a stranger in North Carolina for $40 — into the bank. He admitted to being irritated as Major took a long time to wait on him as he stood at the counter. But, he said it wasn’t the annoyance that led to the shooting.

“I knew what I was going to do when I went in there,” he said.

Council said he shot Major twice and ran towards Skeen’s office when he heard her scream. Skeen hid under a desk.

“I told her I was sorry and then shot her twice,” Council said.

As he talked about the Conway robbery, Council choked up and started to cry. His emotion became evident when he asked if Major and Skeen were still alive. Agents initially told Council they were hurt, and after Council pleaded, the agents said they were dead.

“I had to make sure they couldn’t call authorities,” Council said, adding that he didn’t “overkill” them.

He also told the FBI he initially believed he was going to die in a shootout with police. Instead, Council took the keys off Major’s teller counter and the keys from Skeen’s purse. He stole Skeen’s car and fled back to North Carolina.

There, Council picked up a prostitute and spent time at a hotel watching The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family. The next day he went to the Greenville area where he met a man outside a plasma center.

Council paid the person to put the Mercedes in his name as Council did not have insurance or a diver’s license. The rest of that day was spent partying at a hotel. The next day, police apprehended Council.

“I’m a doofus, I’m an idiot,” Council said as he described his “f*****-up” decision-making. “I don’t deserve to live,” he said.

He described the “pain” he felt due to his family strife and being broke. He said if he was presented with the same situation, the outcome would have been different and he should have just been a bum.

“I don’t believe in trying to excuse your behavior,” Council said. “I just felt like I was at the bottom and nothing to lose.”

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Alex Lang is the True Crime reporter for The Sun News covering the legal system and how crime impacts local residents. He says letting residents know if they are safe is a vital role of a newspaper. Alex has covered crime in Detroit, Iowa, New York City, West Virginia and now Horry County.
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