Originally created 04/25/06

Across the area



Robber awaits store manager

Richmond County sheriff's investigators are trying to find a man who entered a south Augusta Food Lion through the roof and then robbed the store manager at gunpoint Monday morning.

Sheriff's Sgt. Calvin Chew said the manager of the store at 3602 Windsor Spring Road told police the intruder approached him when he entered the business at about 6 a.m.

The manager said the robber pointed a handgun at him and demanded money from the register and safe.

Sgt. Chew said the robber tied up the manager before leaving through the back door.

The robber was described as black, 6 feet tall and 175 pounds. He was wearing all black clothing and had a red bandana covering his face.

Police are reviewing video surveillance footage, Sgt. Chew said.

Neighbor helps spoil kidnapping attempt

A 32-year-old Augusta woman told police a man tried to kidnap her at gunpoint outside her home Monday morning.

According to Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Jimmy Young, Oneila Alexandria Velasquez, of the 3000 block of Parrish Road in west Augusta, said she had just arrived home and was getting her daughter out of the back seat of her car at about 1 a.m. when the man approached her.

He reportedly placed his hand over her mouth and threatened her with a pistol, saying, "Shut up or I'll shoot you."

Ms. Velasquez said he then shoved her into the back seat of her vehicle.

According to Lt. Young, a neighbor heard Ms. Velasquez scream and went outside to investigate. When he did, the assailant ran off, Lt. Young said.

He was described as black, in his 20s, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 175 pounds. He wore a black skull cap and a dark bandana over his face.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call (706) 821-1080.

Woman robbed in Kroger parking lot

Police are investigating a robbery by sudden snatch Sunday outside the Kroger on 15th Street in Augusta.

According to Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Jimmy Young, a woman said a man stole a cell phone and cash from her purse while she was putting groceries into her car at about 4 p.m.

Lt. Young said the man first asked Ms. Compton for change for the soft-drink machine outside the store. When she replied that she had no money, he reportedly told her, "Sorry, have a good day."

Then he grabbed the money and phone from her and rode off on a bicycle.

Top area speller is in championship again

Four-time Scripps Howard spelling bee regional winner Joe Shepherd will compete in the championship round of the Reader's Digest National Word Power Challenge in Florida today.

Joe, an eighth-grader home-schooled by his mother in Waynesboro, Ga., is the state winner of the fourth annual vocabulary competition sponsored by Reader's Digest.

Today, he will be one of just 10 finalists vying for $50,000 in college scholarships at this year's final round at Universal Studios Orlando.

According to the magazine, nearly 2 million fourth- through eighth-graders participated in this year's challenge.

This is the first year of competition for Joe, who is no longer eligible to compete in Scripps Howard spelling bees after going to the national bee a record four times.

During those appearances, his best finish was last year, when he placed 22nd.

Drug-abusing mother ordered to treatment

A 37-year-old Aiken woman was sentenced to in-house drug treatment and probation Monday after she pleaded guilty to taking cocaine and marijuana while in her third trimester.

Susan Sebag, of the 100 block of Lady Bug Drive, pleaded guilty in Aiken County Court to unlawful conduct toward a child.

She also pleaded guilty to possession of crack cocaine, stemming from an arrest in January.

Second Judicial Circuit Assistant Solicitor Brenda Brisbin said Ms. Sebag gave birth in December 2004 to a baby boy who tested positive for drugs.

She admitted to using cocaine and marijuana two days before giving birth, Ms. Brisbin said.

Ms. Sebag was ordered by Judge Clifton Newman to surrender Wednesday at the jail, where she will stay until a bed opens at a drug-treatment facility, Ms. Brisbin said.

3 pupils charged with possessing marijuana

Three Columbia County pupils have been arrested and charged with possession of marijuana.

On Monday, a 17-year-old Greenbrier High School student was arrested at the school, Capt. Morris said.

At about 8:30 a.m., an assistant principal saw Paul Robert Olson, of the 3100 block of Marshall Road, Appling, leaving the school's parking lot in his vehicle and smoking a cigarette, Capt. Morris said. When the student returned, the assistant principal searched his vehicle and found a purple bag containing 1 gram of marijuana, Capt. Morris said.

Mr. Olson was taken to the Columbia County Detention Center with bond set at $1,000, Capt. Morris said.

On Friday, two Columbia Middle School pupils were arrested at the school, police reported Monday.

Principal Donna Anderson received information Friday morning that a 14-year-old pupil and a 13-year-old pupil, both from Grovetown, had the illegal substance in their book bags, said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.

Ms. Anderson searched and found marijuana, Capt. Morris said. The pupils were charged and taken to the Regional Youth Detention Center to await a detention hearing.

Stormwater project to close portion of road

Reed Creek Road in Springlakes subdivision will be closed from Heathcliff Drive to Quail Springs Circle starting at 7 a.m. today and continuing for about six weeks.

The closing is occurring as part of a stormwater drainage project that officials hope will alleviate flooding during heavy rains, according to a county government news release, which states that a 36-inch drainage pipe will be replaced with two 54-inch pipes along Reed Creek Road and Quail Springs Circle.

When work is completed on Reed Creek Road, the thoroughfare will be reopened, but Quail Springs Circle from Reed Creek to Quail Creek will then be closed for about six weeks as well, the release says.

N. Augusta man is charged in shooting

A 29-year-old North Augusta man was arrested Monday afternoon in connection with the shooting of another man during a fight.

Antonio D. Truesdale, of the 800 block of Old Aiken Road, was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

Aiken County sheriff's authorities accuse Mr. Truesdale of shooting Edward Williams II, 25, three times outside the American Legion post in the 400 block of Radio Station Road in North Augusta at about 12:30 a.m. Monday.

Mr. Williams was struck once in the left arm and twice in the pelvis. Lt. Michael Frank, spokesman for the sheriff's office, said Mr. Williams was taken to University Hospital in Augusta by bystanders and was in critical condition.

Authorities were originally looking for two gunmen, but Lt. Frank said Monday that no additional arrests were expected.

Mr. Truesdale surrendered to investigators at about 3:15 p.m. at the sheriff's office, Lt. Frank said.

Church member gets no bond in sex case

A 21-year-old New Ellenton man arrested Sunday on two counts of performing a lewd act on a minor during church activities was denied bond Monday.

Authorities accused James A. Duncan Jr. of performing lewd acts on at least two girls and said he is under investigation by New Ellenton police and Aiken County sheriff's investigators after other accusations of sexual impropriety involving children.

New Ellenton Police Chief Hugh Ray said the police department received three complaints from parents about two weeks ago about possible misconduct during activities held at Foreman Memorial Baptist Church.

Mr. Duncan is a member of the church.

Chief Ray said police have corroborated two of the complaints involving 12- and 13-year-old girls and are investigating the third.

The alleged abuse might have begun in 2004, he said, and he speculated that more victims might be identified.

Lt. Michael Frank, spokesman for the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, said detectives with his office are investigating "similar allegations" against Mr. Duncan.

Charge reduced in man's attack on wife

An Augusta man accused of tying up his wife and threatening to pour a toxic chemical down her throat pleaded guilty to a reduced charge Monday.

Todd D. Steffy, 43, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to a single count of making terroristic threats in the May 17 incident.

Mr. Steffy later was indicted on charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault and a weapon violation.

Attorneys agreed to the reduction in charges and for a five-year probation sentence.

Judge Neal W. Dickert accepted the agreement but added the requirements that Mr. Steffy continue with alcoholism support meetings and attend a domestic violence program.

James Brown festival bands now up to 50

The count of bands for the James Brown Soul of America Music Festival has topped 50, according to a news release from the organizers of the festival.

Headliners for the event, scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, will be announced next week, the release states.

In the meantime, music lovers can get a discount to the festival by going to www.jbmf.org and writing three or four sentences about why they "feel good about Augusta."

A weekend pass is $35 purchased in advance and $50 on the day of the event. Single-day passes are $19.

- From staff reports