Two local teenagers are facing a multitude of criminal charges, including armed robbery, in connection with recent crime sprees that the suspects say were committed as a result of their involvement with a local gang. Two of the suspects are in the custody of local authorities, and two other juveniles still were being sought as of Monday.
The juveniles have been charged by local authorities as adults, according to McDuffie County Sheriff's Department Major Ronnie Williamson.
"The district attorney's office wants to pursue adult prosecution against these two teens because of the seriousness of the crimes they are believed to have committed," Maj. Williamson said.
The arrests of the teenagers are as a result of a joint investigation conducted by Investigators Larry Adaway and Al Reeves in recent weeks. Several other crimes in both the county and the city of Thomson also have been solved as a result of information uncovered by the investigators.
"Both of these investigators have worked hard and put in a lot of hours related to these cases," Maj. Williamson said. "They did a fine job."
The crimes are believed to be gang related because both of the suspects now in custody have confessed to being members of the gang Folk Nation, authorities said.
Investigator Reeves identified the suspects as Carlos A'Keem Valdez, 16, of the 2000 block of Daniel Place, Thomson; and 13-year-old Evonteis "Panky" Parker, of the 100 block of Cedar Street, Thomson.
The pair is charged with the following crimes: armed robbery, burglary, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, aggravated assault and criminal gang activity, Investigator Reeves told local reporters during a press conference Monday afternoon.
They both are being held at the Regional Youth Development Center in Augusta.
The latest arrest occurred when authorities took Evonteis into custody at McDuffie Achievement Center in Thomson on Monday.
Charges against the teenagers stem from them kicking in a rear door of a residence at Heritage Villa Apartments on Noble Street on July 28, Investigator Reeves said.
In a separate case, Investigator Adaway said, two teenagers, ages 13 and 16, have been charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, entering an auto and criminal gang activity.
The charges against the duo stem from the Aug. 6 robbery of a Thomson man at the Regions Bank ATM on Washington Road near Thomson, Investigator Adaway said.
The victim in that case was robbed of $200 in cash.
In that case, the district attorney's office has plans to prosecute the teens as juveniles, rather than adults, authorities said.
One of the juveniles confessed to the robbery and also provided authorities with the name of his accomplice, Investigator Adaway said.
Authorities also have solved two other cases -- both break-ins at the Washington Road Package Shop on the 1400 block of Washington Road, just outside Thomson.
The burglaries occurred in October 2009 and on Jan. 5, 2010. Intruders smashed a front glass window each time.
Once inside, they stole alcoholic beverages and cigarettes, Investigator Adaway said.
One of the suspects was identified as 19-year-old David Larry Bales, of the 500 block of Hillcrest Drive, Thomson. Mr. Bales, who was taken into custody last Saturday, has been charged with two counts of burglary.
A juvenile also is charged with the same offenses.
Authorities also uncovered that three juveniles are responsible for the break-ins earlier this year of three businesses in downtown Thomson. Those businesses include the 4-H Club, Wilson Insurance and Real Estate and an antique store on First Avenue.