Murder suspect out on bond arrested again after crime spree

Anthony Willis Jr. (Source: Summerville Police)
Anthony Willis Jr. (Source: Summerville Police)

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - An 18-year-old Summerville man out on bond for a murder charge is back behind bars after police say he wrecked a stolen car following a crime spree that involved armed robbery, burglary, kidnapping and other charges.

Anthony Willis Jr. was arrested again on March 2, when Summerville police say he wrecked a car he stole from a couple in a Pizza Hut parking lot. After the arrest, investigators linked Willis to a Jan. 28 armed robbery and a residential burglary on Jan. 12.

The former Ashley Ridge High School student was arrested by the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office in May 2011 for the murder of 18-year-old Justin Smoot. Smoot was killed after a shooting outside an apartment on Trolley Road in Summerville.

As a result of the recent Summerville crime spree, Willis is charged with carjacking, armed robbery, two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, possession of a sawed-off shotgun and kidnapping.

Willis was recaptured after a late-night carjacking on March 1. Summerville police officers responded to the Pizza Hut on North Main Street just after 10 p.m. A male and female victim told police that as the woman was trying to get into her boyfriend's 1996 white Toyota Camry, when a black male wearing a camouflage jacket and a ski mask ran towards her with a shot gun.

The suspect allegedly held the shotgun to the woman's face and yelled for her to "Get out of the [expletive] car!" The female victim began screaming while she moved away from the car. The suspect demanded that her boyfriend hand over his cell phone, which he did. The suspect then got into the car and took off.

The victims told police that a Coach purse, a pair of shoes and boots, a back pack and a Coach wallet containing $65 and several credit cards were in the car when it was stolen.

The suspect was described as a young black male in his late teens to early 20's. The victim said he was about 5'9" and weighed 150 to 180 pounds.

A few hours later, a Summerville police officer advised dispatch that he was behind a white Toyota Camry matching the description of the stolen car. While waiting for other units to arrive and assist, the officer began following the suspect.

The vehicle made a right turn onto Nighthawk lane and accelerated toward the back of the cul-de-sac. The car entered the yard at the end of the cul-de-sac and the suspect opened the driver-side door in an attempt to flee the car. During the attempt to jump out of the car, the vehicle drove through a wooden fence and crashed, pinning the suspect's ankles in between the car door and the frame.

Officers converged on the car with weapons drawn and held the suspect until the Old Fort Fire Department arrived and removed the stuck suspect from the car. Police recovered the shot gun and the stolen items that the victims said were in the car.

Officers were able to identify the driver, who matched the victim's description, as Willis. He was then connected to two other crimes that happened in January.

The first of those crimes happened on Jan. 12. In that case, Willis is accused of breaking into a Gadsden Acres apartment on Woodchuck Drive in Summerville. The victim told police that when he came home, he noticed the drawer to a living room stand was open, a box to a knife set was sitting on the couch and a bedroom door, which is always left open, was closed.

When officers arrived, they did a walkthrough of the house and found items thrown all over some of the rooms and clothes tossed on the floor. The victim told the officers that a rifle and a shotgun had been stolen, along with the set of knives from the box found on the couch, and a silver and gold watch.

On Jan. 28, Summerville police responded to an armed robbery at Me Me's Soul Food Kitchen on Central Avenue. Several victims told police that they were cleaning up the restaurant while getting ready to close, when a young man came in through the back door with a shotgun. The man, later identified as Willis, yelled "Where's the money? Give me the money!"

One of the female victims told police that the suspect pointed the gun at her daughter, then we she tried to step in front; he pointed the gun at her. At that time, the manager went into a small office and shut the door.

One of the women told the suspect that she didn't know where the money was. The suspect then kneeled down, apparently to avoid the security camera. At that point, one of the victims ran out of the restaurant to a nearby business. The suspect then located the manager's purse, stole it and ran out of the restaurant.

The suspect was described as a young black male wearing all camouflage clothing, black gloves and a lack ski mask. One of the victims said she recognized the man from the Gadsden Acres area.

A K-9 unit tracked the suspect's scent to a Central Avenue driveway where police located one of the victim's keys, which were in the stolen purse. The purse contained $340, several credit cards, a cell phone, wallet and a pair of glasses, all of which were not recovered.

Willis is now charged with carjacking, armed robbery, two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, possession of a sawed-off shotgun and kidnapping.

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