Attempted Robbery, Shooting Suspect Arrested In Rock Hill
ROCK HILL, S.C. —
The suspect in a violent robbery attempt at a Rock Hill check cashing business -- a man police have called a cold-blooded criminal -- was taken into custody Monday afternoon.
Around 1:30 p.m. York County sheriff’s deputies and a Special Weapons and Tactics team surrounded the apartment of the suspect’s girlfriend just north of the Riverview Road and Celanese Road intersection in Rock Hill. Then 20-year-old Phillip Watts Jr. surrendered peacefully with his hands in the air.
Officers said they are relieved.
"He may be one of the most dangerous men we've ever dealt with, and as irrational as he was, that made him very, very dangerous," said Rock Hill Police Chief John Gregory.
Watts was wanted on an assault and battery with intent to kill charge after police say he shot a customer while trying to rob the Cash On The Spot on Cherry Road in Rock Hill last week.
That customer, 42-year-old Ida Lord, was shot twice and remains in critical condition at Carolinas Medical Center.
Investigators said it was forensic evidence from that crime scene that helped them identify Watts on Saturday and then get his picture out to the public on Sunday. Friends and family members then tipped off police to his whereabouts.
But perhaps no one is more relieved by the arrest than Ping Chen at Rock Hill’s Saltwater Seafood Market. She was shot in a robbery Jan. 28 and still has bandages on her arm. She said she believes the arrest will put an end to her bad dreams.
"Since I got shot I have a lot of nightmares. I can't even sleep. I keep eyes on every customer coming in, watching them, making sure, really carefully,” she said.
Authorities believe Watts may be responsible for that armed robbery and one on Feb. 5 where a former Fort Mill mayor and a store clerk were shot at John Boy's Valero in Fort Mill.
Investigators have said in all three cases at least one person was shot and both clerks complied with the robber's demands before being shot. The description of the robber in each case is also similar.
So far Watts is only charged in the shooting at the Cash On The Spot, but authorities said charges in the other shootings are pending.
“We’re just glad to get this guy,” said York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant.
According to police, Watts is a student at Clinton Junior College in Rock Hill. He was paroled to York County from the South Carolina Department of Corrections on Sept. 14, 2007, after serving time for attempted armed robbery.