Originally created 12/10/97

Man arrested in armored car heist



HARLEYVILLE, S.C. -- A man who allegedly hijacked an armored van and killed a guard apparently escaped a police manhunt by driving 30 miles to Orangeburg while bleeding from neck wounds, authorities said Tuesday.

Calvin Shuler, 31, of Orangeburg was arrested Monday and faces charges of murder, armed robbery and kidnapping in connection with the Dec. 3 hijacking, Dorchester County Sheriff Ray Nash said.

Authorities say a man armed with a handgun and assault rifle ordered two guards out of the Anderson Armored Car Services van while it stopped at a bank. After an exchange of gunfire, the man drove off with a third guard, James "J.B." Brooks, 77, of Columbia, locked in the back.

Brooks' body was found when the van was abandoned on a dirt road about four miles away. He was hit by several bullets shot from inside the van's cab as well by as others from the outside during an apparent attempt to break into the back, county Coroner Chris Nesbit said.

The bandit did not get any money, investigators said. But they think that before Brooks died he wounded his killer by firing into the driver's compartment. The assault rifle and a bloody ski mask were found near where the van was abandoned.

Shuler "has injuries in the back of his neck that are consistent with the bullet fragments fired from the gun of the security guard," Nash said. X-rays revealed several lead fragments under Shuler's skin, the sheriff said.

About 150 police officers combed the woods and fields near the abandoned van after the incident but turned up no sign of a suspect.

Authorities think the robber had a car stashed in the area and drove himself to Orangeburg, said Jim Rumchak, the agent in charge of the FBI office in Charleston.

He said authorities unsuccessfully checked doctors' offices and hospitals for anyone who had come in for treatment of head or neck wounds. Orangeburg Regional Medical Center officials said Tuesday that Shuler came to the emergency room on Monday seeking treatment, WIS-TV reported.

Rumchak said FBI agents questioned Shuler last week when they discovered he bought the handgun found at the bank, but investigators needed to do more legwork before making an arrest. Shuler was arrested Monday when he came to the Orangeburg County sheriff's office for further questioning, Rumchak said.

He said Shuler had no connection to the bank or the armored car service.

Rumchak said authorities are still investigating whether others were involved in the heist.