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Woman arrested in pawn shop robbery

Group connected to NCHS, other break-ins

Posted: January 21, 2011 4:33 p.m.
Updated: January 24, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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Marquis Williams

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The young woman waited in the wrecked van as law enforcement officers chased her brother and his two friends through the woods north of Westville. When they were gone, she got out, walked a bit and then used her cell phone to call a ride.

That’s what the Camden Police Department (CPD) and Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) are saying they think Makesha Carlotta Williams, 22, of Elliott Hunter Road, Cassatt, did early Thursday morning.

Williams has now been charged alongside her brother, 19-year-old Marquis Dapree Williams; Brandon Kelly Pownall, 19; and his brother, Austin Ryan Pownall, 17, for using a sledgehammer to break a hole in the wall of Reel Gun & Pawn in Camden and stealing a shotgun.

According to CPD Sgt. Lee Boan, all four suspects have been charged with second degree burglary, possession of burglary tools and petit larceny. Makesha Williams faces an additional charge of failure to stop for blue lights.

She was the one driving the van used to flee the scene, said CPD Chief Joe Floyd, leading one of his officers on a high speed chase all the way to Westville.

“The boys had mentioned her in our interviews with them,” said Floyd. “She got the ride while we were chasing the boys.”

A KCSO bloodhound team -- including Daisy and her handler, Ty Cobb -- with help from the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office and the S.C. Law Enforcement Division waiting in the wings, spent nearly two hours searching for the Pownalls and Marquis Williams.

“The tracking team spent at least an hour and a half and tracked them three miles,” said KCSO Capt. Ed Corey.

“They did a great job,” added KCSO Chief Deputy Marvin Brown. “They went through the woods and a swamp -- there’s a creek down there the suspects crossed twice. One of the suspects lost both shoes and was caught barefoot.”

While it may sound like Makesha Williams was smart about getting away Thursday morning, Floyd said she all but walked into investigators arms Thursday afternoon.

“One of our investigators was looking over the van with a county investigator where it had been towed. She was arrested when she drove up and tried to check on something she said she left in the van,” said Floyd.

Brown and Corey said the arrests of both pairs of siblings has cleared up a number of cases, including several high-profile ones. They said they do not believe Markesha Williams was involved with the other crimes allegedly committed by her brother and the Pownalls.

The biggest crimes the boys are being accused of are the vandalism and thefts at North Central middle and high schools and vandalism at the Applied Technology Education Campus (ATEC).

The trio is accused of damaging alarm keypads, breaking into the two schools and causing $30,000 worth of damage to both facilities. They allegedly vandalized a number of vending machines and broke into offices, stealing cash, laptop computers, video cameras and two-way radios. The three suspects were caught on video; one of them was seen carrying a large sledgehammer.

Corey said they have recovered two stolen laptops and a video camera from the Pownall home on Maggie Avenue in Cassatt.

The Reel Gun & Pawn burglary in Camden took place around 2:15 a.m. Thursday. Almost exactly 48 hours earlier, around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, deputies responded to an alarm at Cellular Connection on U.S. 1 South in Lugoff. They found a similar scene to what a CPD officer found at the pawn shop: a hole in the wall where exterior siding, insulation and part of a door frame had been removed.

Marquis Williams and the Pownall brothers are now accused of entering the store and stealing 27 cell phones. Investigators found an open folding knife and tire iron behind a display cabinet. Brown said investigators recovered most of the phones and other stolen goods when they found the laptops and video camera at the Pownalls’ home.

“We recovered 22 of the phones. When we told the owner, he jumped up and down for joy,” said Brown.

Another recent crime Marquis Williams and the Pownalls have been connected to is the break-in and robbery of R.T.’s Bottle Shop on Jefferson Davis Highway. The three teen are thought to have broken into a vacant bar next door and then worked their way through an air conditioning duct to get inside the bottle shop. They are accused of stealing $250 in change, assorted cigars, lighters, cigarettes, candy and other food.

“All of that was returned except for one carton of cigars,” said Corey. “Actually, we found the cigarette box, but it was empty.”

The three boys are also accused of breaking into a U.S. 1 North, Cassatt, storage locker used by a snack food delivery business and the burglaries of two nearby churches.

The Pownalls and Marquis Williams are accused of breaking into New Vision Sanctuary on U.S. 1 North in Cassatt sometime between 8 p.m. Jan. 12 and 7:30 a.m. Jan. 14 and stealing a drum set, small amp and wireless microphone. Next door is Hyco Missionary Baptist Church; the boys are accused of breaking in there as well and stealing microphones, microphone stand, a TV with built in DVD player and $180 cash.

The trio is also accused of stealing mattresses, box springs and a love seat from an east Camden thrift shop. They are also thought to have stolen the tires on the getaway van from a location near the intersection of U.S. 1 and Cheraw Road northeast of Camden.

That turned out to be a mistake. Although investigators are grudgingly admit Makesha Williams did a bit of fancy driving, they noted that she ended up driving into a ditch because one of those tires came off its rim. The rim then separated from the axle.

Brandon Pownall and Marquis Williams both have had run-ins with the KCSO before.

In 2009, Pownall was one of four young men who reportedly were seen throwing rocks at signs and at New South trucks parked along Sanders Creek Road in September 2009. While all the boys scattered, Pownall reportedly was caught peeking around a trailer and then running into the back yard. Another suspect came out of the trailer. He, Pownall and a third suspect all claimed not to know the fourth suspect and that they “were just chilling” there.

It was unclear whether Pownall was charged, although Brown and Corey said Pownall had mentioned going through pre-trial intervention in connection with a previous incident.

Marquis Williams, however, actually spent time in jail after being arrested in June 2010. He was arrested as he was coming out of the Hot Spot on Jefferson Davis Highway in east Camden after deputies responded for an armed robbery in progress. A clerk pointed at Williams and said he was the person who had come into the store with a shotgun. He said Williams pointed the gun at him and demanded money.

Williams then allegedly walked to the back office in search of money. In the meantime, the clerk left out the back of the store and called law enforcement. The weapon -- which turned out to be a .22 caliber long rifle and not a shotgun -- was recovered outside the store.

Brown said Thursday was a “very good day for law enforcement in Kershaw County,” especially in terms of cooperation.

“Two Lancaster County deputies just heard about the search, came over and started riding the perimeter,” said Brown.

When Sheriff Jim Matthews first reported the North Central break-ins, he said that the first suspect to turn himself in would “get the best deal.” That’s not going to happen now.

“Having to have the dogs out chasing you for a couple of hours is not the best way to get a deal,” Matthews said Friday afternoon.

The KCSO also announced the arrest of another 17-year-old, Mitchell Logan Hinson, for allegedly breaking into a Jones Road residence near Kershaw and stealing a video game console.

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