UPDATE: Shooting suspect appears in court, SBI being asked to in - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Arrest warrants say victims held at gunpoint during Pizza Hut robbery

Posted: Updated:
Police blocked off the area surrounding Pizza Hut early Saturday morning. Police blocked off the area surrounding Pizza Hut early Saturday morning.
Jalani Smith (Source: New Hanover County Sheriff's Office) Jalani Smith (Source: New Hanover County Sheriff's Office)
Ronald Roland the left. Tevin Robinson on the right. (Source: Tyuan Bryant) Ronald Roland the left. Tevin Robinson on the right. (Source: Tyuan Bryant)
A bullet casing on the scene of the robbery and shooting. A bullet casing on the scene of the robbery and shooting.
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The SBI has been asked to investigate an officer-involved shooting that happened at a Pizza Hut late last Friday night, according to a letter from District Attorney Ben David.

In the letter it states that five WPD officers have been placed on administrative leave and will meet with SBI investigators to discuss the incident.

Two men were killed and one was taken to the hospital after being involved in that gun battle with officers.

According to police, three men went into the Pizza Hut on South 17th Street around 11:45 Friday night and reportedly robbed several employees and the business.

Arrest warrants say four people were held at gunpoint, and Jalani Smith, Tevin Robinson and Roland Ronald took $100 and two cell phones from the victims.

According to the warrants, Smith had a handgun and threatened the lives of all four employees.

Police said the suspects refused to comply with officers as they were leaving the building. Shots were fired, and all three men were taken to the hospital.

Linda Rawley, Public Information Officer for the WPD, said that WPD officers have been working with the Leland Police Department recently.  She said information from that department gave WPD reason to be in the area of the Pizza Hut at the time of the initial robbery attempt.

Roland, 18, and Robinson, 20, both died as a result of their injuries. They were both pronounced dead several hours after the shooting.

Smith, 20, was released from the hospital and is being held in the New Hanover County Jail in lieu of a $1.5 million bond.

Smith was charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery and first degree kidnapping.

Smith made his first court appearance Monday.  It was brief, but his parents made a point of supporting their son.  They told him they loved him and asked him to stay strong.

Officials believe the young men may have been tied to several business robberies in both Brunswick and New Hanover Counties.

No officers were injured in the shooting. The names of the police officers involved are not being released at this time pending the outcome of the SBI Investigation.

WHAT FAMILY MEMBERS ARE SAYING

A family member of Tevin Robinson who wishes to remain anonymous, said that the incident doesn't make sense to family members of the suspects.  He said that violence was uncharacteristic of all three men.

He said that all three suspects were students at North Brunswick High School and played sports their.  He said that Jalani Smith and Tevin Robinson were in the JROTC program at the school as well.  He elaborated that Smith held a position of leadership while in the program.

He said Robinson had completed basic training in the Navy and planned to return to the service.  He said Robinson's family is especially concerned about the incident because Robinson was an organ donor.

Lieutenant colonel Hanna from the JROTC Program at North Brunswick High School said he had heard about the incident, but could not make any comment on the situation.

WHAT SMITH'S PARENTS ARE SAYING

"We love our son.  Jalani is a good child," said his mother, Regina Smith.  "Unfortunately they made bad decisions and we can't take that back."

Regina Smith said that even though her son is still alive, she feels like she lost some of her own children.

"I lost two boys- Ronald Roland and Tevin Robinson," explained Regina Smith.  "They are both our kids.  They were in the home with us all the time, and our family is going through a lot right now because we have to put to rest two of our kids."

Jalani Smith's father took responsibility for his son's actions.

"We as parents would like to apologize on our kid's mistake," said Frederick Smith.  "Hopefully this is a learning curve for all others."

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