Officers foil attempted robbery at Lex. Co. motel

Thomas Clinton Jones (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)
Thomas Clinton Jones (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - An alert parole agent stopped an armed robbery in progress in a Lexington Co. motel parking lot early Tuesday morning.

Lexington County Sheriff's Department deputies arrested a 23-year-old Columbia man in connection with an armed robbery in the parking lot of a motel on Burning Tree Drive in the St. Andrews community. Two South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole agents working extra duty assignments assisted deputies in arresting the 23-year-old Columbia man.

Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts said deputies arrested 23-year-old Thomas Clinton Jones, 23, of Columbia, at 4:41 a.m. Tuesday on a charge of armed robbery. At 1:33 a.m. on Tuesday, Deputy Richard Jacob arrived at a Motel 6, 1776 Burning Tree Drive, in order to investigate an armed robbery that had occurred in the motel's parking lot at about 1:24 a.m. on Tuesday, Metts said.

State Probation, Pardon and Parole Agent Justin Daniel Price, who was working an extra duty assignment to provide security at the motel, said that a 49-year-old Greer man, who was staying as a guest at the motel, was confronted as he walked from the motel's registration desk towards a black Kia sedan that was parked in the motel's parking lot, Metts said. Deputies said Jones drove up in a Nissan Altima and stopped directly in front of the Kia, blocking the 49-year-old man's path to the vehicle.

Jones, who was wearing black pants, a black shirt and white bandanna that covered his face, ran towards the 49-year-old man, Metts said.

Jones grabbed the 49-year-old man, placing his arm across the man's chest, pointed a handgun at the man's head and began forcing the man to walk towards the Kia, Metts said.

Price saw what was happening and got out of his vehicle, which was parked in the motel's parking lot.  He identified himself as a law enforcement officer while he was armed with his service handgun, Metts said.

As Price gave told the suspect to place his hands in the air, Jones pushed the 49-year-old man to the ground and ran towards Interstate 26, Metts said. The suspect climbed over a brick wall and chain-link fence and ran to St. Andrews Road.

Price contacted dispatch and provided the license plate number for the Nissan Altima sedan and asked a telecommunications operator to identify the person who owns the sedan. The telecommunications operator advised Price that Jones is the registered owner for the Nissan Altima sedan.

Price called a fellow state Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole agent who was working an extra duty assignment at a Red Roof Inn on Berryhill Road on the opposite side of I-26.

That agent told Price that he had detained Jones, who was injured while climbing over the chain-link fence. Jones went to the Red Roof Inn's registration desk and asked a clerk to telephone a taxi cab driver to pick him up, Metts said. Deputies and sheriff's detectives went to the Red Roof Inn and later arrested Jones.

Detectives are continuing to work to identify the man who was driving the Nissan Altima at the time of the robbery, Metts said.

Jones was being held on Tuesday at the Lexington County Detention Center while awaiting a bond hearing.

Metts asked anyone with information about Jones' accomplice or additional criminal activity involving Jones to call the Lexington County Sheriff's Department at (803) 785-8230 or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC. Citizens also can provide information anonymously by accessing the Crime Tip link on the Sheriff's Department web site (

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