COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A 36-year-old Fort Jackson soldier has been denied bond for a third after authorities identified him as the so-called "Hockey Mask Bandit."
Cedrick Gaines was charged with three counts of armed robbery, five weapons charges, two counts of kidnapping and an assault charge.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Gaines is charged with nine counts of armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, and unlawful carry of a weapon. Gaines also faces 17 counts of kidnapping. Along with the 28 charges from Richland County and the 11 charged from the City of Columbia, Lott said Gaines will also be charged for committing crimes in Lexington County, the City of Sumter, and Forest Acres.
After a little over a month filled with robberies across the Midlands, authorities apprehended Gaines Monday night, just hours after notifying the public of 18 similar robberies around the Midlands.
Gaines was arrested after allegedly robbing a video game store on Killian Road. Lott said Gaines was wearing clothes that matched the man they were looking for. The sheriff said officials confiscated cash, a handgun, masks, hats, gloves, and other items used to complete the robberies.
Gaines' crime spree began when he robbed two restaurants nearly minutes from each other.
“On the 21st of November,” Cindy Qu of King Wah said, “a guy came in with a mask and a gun and pointed it at me and told me to give him all the money.”
Lott said Gaines is active duty Army stationed at Fort Jackson.
"Gaines is not representative of soldiers stationed at Fort Jackson, Lott said. "The Richland County Sheriff's Department has an excellent relationship with the Command Staff and soldiers at Fort Jackson. The Fort Jackson Military Police assisted us in the investigation and provided valuable information. Like all professions, to include law enforcement and the military, you will occasionally have one to cross the line and become a criminal....Gaines did that."
Lott says the Gaines allegedly committed the armed robberies in the early evening hours, during some of the most congested traffic times along major roadways and traffic corridors. At each robbery, Gaines allegedly entered the business with his face and hands covered presenting a handgun and demanding cash. He has allegedly robbed restaurants, specialty stores, and dollar stores.
“It impacted all of us,” Lott said. “You know, we talk about this as 19 robberies, but you got to look at the people. This has people involved. These are victims who will never be the same.”
When reached Tuesday afternoon for comment, a Fort Jackson spokesperson would only say that Gaines is a soldier assigned to Fort Jackson.
"This is an active, on-going investigation being conducted by the Richland County Sheriff's Department and Fort Jackson is cooperating in every way possible," Patrick Jones said. "Any further information regarding this investigation must come from the sheriff's office. Regardless of the outcome of this investigation, there are thousands of young soldiers assigned to Fort Jackson who live the Army Values every day and who have volunteered to serve their country in an honorable way."
The sheriff says he and his deputies were already out patrolling Monday night in anticipation of another robbery. He says, when arrested, Gaines was cooperative and seemed to try to talk his way out of the arrest by being super compliant.
“"It's a very serious crime,” Lott said. “I've talked to the solicitor, Solicitor Dan Johnson. These cases are going to be fast-tracked. He's putting his best people on the case."
Here's a list of stores the "Hockey Mask Bandit" has allegedly robbed:
• Columbia – Friday, November 21, 2014 at 5496 Forest Drive, Suite C, Little Panda Express
• Richland - Friday, November 21, 2014 at 2720 Decker Boulevard, King Wah
• Columbia - Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 5424 Forest Drive, Suite 122, Eastern Buffet
• Richland - Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 114 Blythewood Road, Days Inn
• Richland - Monday, November 24, 2014 at 420 McNulty Road, China King
• Richland - Monday, November 24, 2014 at 2000-3 Clemson Road, Hibachi Grill
• Columbia - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 3730 N Main Street, Papa John's Pizza
• Columbia - Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 5424 Forest Drive, Domino's Pizza
• Richland - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 7850 Garners Ferry Road, Corner Pantry
• Columbia - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 4805 Garners Ferry Road, Pop's Pantry
• Sumter - Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 1040 Broad Street, Dollar General
• Sumter - Friday, December 5, 2014 at 1338 Broad Street, Hibbett Sports
• Richland - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 7362 Two Notch Road, GameStop
• Richland - Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 9003 Two Notch Road, Suite 12, Lee Nails
• Richland - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 9221 Two Notch Road, Dollar General
• Richland - Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 8710 Two Notch Road, Best China Hut
• Lexington – Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 536 Saint Andrews Road, Dollar General
• Forest Acres – Friday, December 19, 2014 at 3904 Two Notch Road, World Finance
• Richland - Monday, December 22, 2014 at 327 Killian Road, GameStop