Bogus ad leads to armed robbery

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Police: victim was set up trying to buy car on Craigslist

By Chris Sardelli

A legion of unmarked police cars surrounded a small blue hatchback in Lancaster’s Walmart parking lot Monday morning, July 8, only minutes after a man was robbed at gunpoint.

A day later, police were holding one man for questioning while looking to locate at least two others suspects. As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, though, no arrests had been made. 

“We're knee-deep in this thing,” Lancaster Police Capt. Scott Grant said. “We're working on that right now.” 

Grant said the armed robbery happened about 11:15 a.m. Monday as the victim was about to meet someone about buying a car in the parking lot, located along S.C. 9 Bypass. 

“It looks like this guy came to put down some honest money on a car that was being sold on Craigslist,” Grant said. “It appears he was set up with a bogus sale.”

That’s when two black men approached the victim, Grant said.

“Both guys walked up, one guy shoved a gun in the man’s chest and another demanded money. And he demanded the exact amount he was selling the car for,” Grant said. “We know there are more than two people involved because there was at least one other guy in the car.”

According to police radio dispatches, the two men were dropped off and picked up by a third black man who was possibly driving a dark gray Nissan Maxima or Nissan Altima with dark tinted windows and customized wheels. The radio dispatches also revealed that one the men was armed with a silver pistol. 

A large number of marked and unmarked police vehicles descended on the parking lot after the 911 call. A black police SUV was stationed at one of Walmart’s entrances with its blue lights ablaze, while several officers and detectives, with their badges slung around their necks, canvassed the area. 

The majority of officers were stationed in the center of the parking lot next to a small, blue two-door Suzuki hatchback. The victim could be seen speaking with detectives, as well as police capt.s Grant and Paul Smith, outside the car and motioning toward one of the parking lot’s exits. 

One Walmart employee who was inside the store when the commotion began recalled hearing someone announce the words “red flag” over the intercom, but she didn’t know what it meant. Another employee was not aware of the incident, but said store protocol requires closing the store only if a robbery occurred inside. 

One of the alleged robbers was wearing a white tank-top style T-shirt and blue shorts and had medium-length dreadlocks, per radio dispatches. The other man was wearing a gray T-shirt, black shorts and a black hat with a red brim. 

Grant said detectives have been reviewing the store’s surveillance footage and hope to release photos of the men. 

“We strongly feel there's at least three (suspects) involved,” Grant said. 

Grant asks anyone with information about the alleged robbers to call the police department at (803) 283-1171, the department’s special operations division at (803) 283-1174, or the LPD’s anonymous tip hotline at (803) 289-6040.


Contact Christopher Sardelli at (803) 416-8416 

Editor's note; repoter Jesef Williams contributed to this report