DENTSVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA -- Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott is crediting a Dentsville man with helping his agency stop a home invasion ring that targeted elderly neighbors.
Homeowner Bobby Drum, 68, shot a man who tried to break into his home at 7651 Parkview Drive on March 20. As a result, a little later that night, detectives arrested the man who they say tried to rob Drum and his wife.
They also have charged four other teen-agers who they say preyed on victims who they thought couldn't fight back, Lott said.
"Mr. Drum is a hero," Lott said. "He probably not only saved his wife and his life, but the lives of other people as well. If (Jack Maurice Austin) had not been shot by Mr. Drum, they still would be doing" home invasions.
Detectives arrested Austin, 18, 7244 Claudia Drive, shortly after they say he tried to break into Drum's home. Austin called for help and told deputies he had been shot in the neck as he was walking toward a friend's home less than half a mile away from the Drums' home.
On Friday, detectives also charged Eddie Washington, 17, 936E. Campanella Drive; Jason David Evans, 17, 3843 June Drive; Curtis Walton Jr., 18, 3916 Davies Drive; and Bryan Darnell Lake, 18, 7317 Highview Drive.
Washington and Lake are accused of being with Austin at the Drums' home, Lott said. Washington, Evans, Walton and Austin have been charged with the March 11 robbery of Arlo Gilliam, 65, of 7012 Frandal Ave.
Gilliam, who said he has been ill much of this year, said he opened his door the night of March 11 because he thought his son had come over to help take care of him.
"I opened the door, and (a man) put a gun to my stomach and pushed me against the door," Gilliam said. "He told me to lay down on my couch face-first, and I did it."
The man then yelled something, and several other people came inside the home, Gilliam said. The group ransacked Gilliam's bedroom and took five guns before leaving, he said.
"They didn't hurt me," Gilliam said. "I was scared for myself."
On March 20, Drum shot someone who was trying to enter his house through a screen door, police said. Drum went to a back bedroom, got his Glock 9 mm handgun and fired a shot that grazed the intruder's neck, police said.
Detectives are checking to see whether the group might be connected to other recent robberies, including one that happened earlier this year in Columbia, Lott said.
Drum and his wife, Dorothy, 64, have declined to discuss what happened.
"(Drum) was quite upset at what he had to do," Lott said. "He's the type of person who doesn't even like to hunt because he doesn't want to hurt anything."
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