Martinez Gold Shop robbed

Columbia County authorities arrested two people and are looking for two more in connection with today's armed robbery of a Martinez jewelry store.

Police charged Gerson Ayala-Romero, 25, of McMinnville, Tenn., and Elisa Yojana, 24, of Atlanta, with armed robbery, theft by taking motor vehicle and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime, said Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

Two men remained at large, Capt. Morris said.

According to witnesses, three people entered the Gold Shop at 3817 Washington Road about 2:30 p.m. with two guns and a knife and demanded jewelry. The store clerk handed over jewelry and the robbers also stole keys to an employee’s red Ford Mustang.

A fourth man was outside the store in a red Toyota Camry, in which the robbers arrived at the store, Capt. Morris said.

The robbers fled the scene in the Mustang, which they abandoned in the front yard of a home on Murray Road, less than a mile away.

Ms. Yojana was found under the home and Mr. Ayala-Romero was arrested in a yard behind the home.

Police dogs tracked a third person into the Wynngate subdivision off Old Petersburg Road. Police searched the area for about two hours, but did not locate any other suspects, Capt. Morris said.

“We are reasonably sure they are no longer in the area,” Capt. Morris said, and he suspects they’ve fled to South Carolina in the Camry.

During the search, the nearby South Columbia Elementary School was put on soft lockdown. Car riders were released cautiously and buses were delayed for a short time, Capt. Morris said.

The robbery affected more than the jewelry store owner and the school.

Bobbi Devereux, in Washington state, said her best friend, Anna Huggins, called her Thursday afternoon with a big story. Ms. Huggins and her fiance, Nic Ziglar, both of Moncks Corner, S.C., were scheduled to be married at 5 p.m. Thursday in an Aiken chapel. Ms. Huggins told Ms. Devereux that she kicked her fiance out of their Columbia County hotel room Thursday afternoon while she got ready.

Mr. Ziglar decided to have the rings polished at the Gold Shop and ended up in the middle of the armed robbery. Ms. Devereux said.

“They are late,” Ms. Devereux said. “Who expects that? You will remember this forever.”

Reach Valerie Rowell at (706) 868-1222, ext. 110 or

valerie.rowell@augustachronicle.com.

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