COLUMBIA, S.C. — Deveon Antonio Belk, 36, of Irmo, was convicted following a multi-day bench trial on 15 counts: seven counts of Hobbs Act robbery, seven counts of Brandishing a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence, and one count of Felon in Possession of Firearm and Ammunition.
Evidence presented by the Government at trial established that Belk robbed at least seven Columbia and Lexington-area businesses at gunpoint between Nov. 9 and Nov. 16, 2020:
Belk used a distinctive black Saturn sedan in many of the robberies. He would park nearby, approach the businesses on foot, act as if he was purchasing a low value item in cash, and when the cashier opened or approached the cash drawer, he brandished a black and silver Ruger 9mm pistol and demanded the register or safe be emptied. During some robberies, he did not wait for that transaction, he would point the firearm at the clerk and demand money upon entry. Belk forced many victims to the back of the store or into a closet. He then left on foot at a casual pace, often passing legitimate customers on the way. He disposed his clothing at or near the crime scenes, and he then left in the Saturn.
At trial, 13 victims testified. One was 16 years old at the time of the robbery. One was forced into a closet that Belk kicked in; she was seen in surveillance crying on the ground calling the police for help. Another victim testified about Belk pressing the gun into her body. One encouraged Belk to not commit the robbery because he as on camera and would be caught. Many victims testified that they were afraid for their lives during the robberies.
Every robbery, as well as Belk’s approach to and flight from many of the crime scenes, was recorded on surveillance video. Numerous people who knew Belk testified at trial that it was Belk on video committing the robberies. His DNA was found on clothing left near four of the seven robberies, and on the firearm that he used in every robbery.
A search warrant was executed at a Lexington apartment where Belk was staying on Nov. 17, 2020, one day after the final robbery. Belk was arrested that day and at that apartment police found the firearm Belk used in every robbery, the shoes he wore in multiple robberies, and the Saturn.
Belk was convicted for conduct related to the seven robberies above, but by way of a notice filed on the public docket (ECF No. 73), the Government has indicated that Belk was likely responsible for at least six more:
United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis presided over the trial and will sentence Belk after receiving and reviewing a pre-sentence report that will be prepared by the United States Probation Office.
Belk faces a mandatory minimum of 49 years in federal prison following the firearm brandish in connection with a crime of violence convictions, plus any additional term of imprisonment he receives for the robberies or the firearm possession count.
“This conviction highlights the good work of local law enforcement,” U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina Adair F. Boroughs said. “A violent offender was terrorizing multiple communities and this partnership and coordination will keep him behind bars.”
“Belk was a serial robber committing crimes over many jurisdictions,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. “Being prosecuted in Federal Court allowed for all the crimes to be tried together so he can receive an appropriate sentence. This is a great example of local and federal agencies working together to protect the citizens of South Carolina.”
“This is a great example of how strong relationships between agencies make our community a safer place,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “Because of the commitment of state and local law enforcement agencies, we were able to address an issue affecting members of our community.”
“Deveon Belk’s four weeks of robberies brought fear to our business community and victimized over a dozen hard-working citizens,” Columbia Police Chief W. H. ‘Skip’ Holbrook said. “This case represents the best of law enforcement partnerships and collaboration in the pursuit of justice.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, and the Columbia Police Department, with critical assistance from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elliott B. Daniels, Lamar J. Fyall, Ariyana N. Gore prosecuted the case.
Media note: attached are two exhibits from trial for your use. One is a map showing the incident locations and the other is an image from video surveillance during a robbery.
Veronica Hill, Public Information Officer, email@example.com, (803) 930-3000