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GPD officers chase down double homicide, robbery suspect

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Greenville police prepare to transport double homicide murder suspect, Brandon Michael Council, and two people who were with him, to the police station for questioning Wednesday Aug. 23, 2017.

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By Beth Velliquette
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Three Greenville police officers, acting on a tip called into the 911 center Wednesday, caught a man suspected of killing two bank employees Monday in South Carolina.

Brandon Michael Council, 32, of Wilson, was arrested at the Baymont Inn on South Memorial Drive about 12:25 p.m. on Wednesday, Greenville Police Department Chief Mark Holtzman said. Police received information from a tipster who had seen Council in the area, Holtzman said.

An officer who had been in training Wednesday morning was driving on Memorial Drive when he heard the radio dispatch that Council had been seen in the area. He was driving an unmarked car and spotted a white Mercedes that matched the description of the vehicle Council was reported to be in, Holtzman said. The vehicle had what appeared to be a temporary license plate. The officer called for backup, and two officers responded in marked cars.

Holtzman said he believed the officer spotted the Mercedes near the Baymont Inn, and that officer and the two others followed the vehicle as the driver turned into the parking lot of the inn at 3439 S. Memorial Drive.

The driver went around to the side of the inn, and Council, another man and a woman bailed out of the car, Holtzman said. Council ran toward the back of the lot and was apprehended by the officers. The other two people also were taken into custody.

“They really worked together as a solid team out on the street,” Holtzman said of the officers. ”It’s as dangerous as it gets.”    

Council is a suspect in the Monday killings of two employees, both women, at the CresCom Bank in Conway, S.C. The robbery occurred there about 1:20 p.m.

Donna Major, 59, of Conway, and 36-year-old Kathryn "Katie" Skeen, of Green Sea, were killed, according to reports. The robber fled the scene in a Chrysler 200 that belonged to one of the victims, Conway police reported.

Conway police on Tuesday identified Council as a person of interest and said he was wanted for questioning in the robbery and murders.

Council also is accused in a Wilson bank robbery that occurred at 9:14 a.m. on Aug. 11 at the BB&T branch at 1604 S. Tarboro St. No one was hurt in that robbery.

Council faces a charge of felony common-law robbery in the Wilson case, according to The Wilson Times. Police told the newspaper that Council demanded cash at the bank. The charge indicates Council did not display a weapon during the robbery.

He has previous convictions, according to online records from the Department of Public Safety, and his parole ended July 31, less than two weeks before the Wilson robbery. He was convicted in 2011 of larceny over $1,000 and being a habitual felon.

Records show Council also served prison time for a Wilson County conviction on a felony breaking and entering charge in 2008 and has previous convictions of misdemeanor larceny in Wake County, felony larceny of a motor vehicle in Pitt County and felony receiving a stolen vehicle in Wilson County.

Greenville police received the information that Council was in the area through a 911 call saying he was in a white Mercedes.

Holtzman said he was proud of the way his officers responded to a dangerous situation.

The officers probably went from having a lunch break or finishing their last call for service when suddenly they were called upon to catch a double homicide suspect, he said.

“The suspect gets out of the car and starts to flee, and the officers gave chase,” Holtzman said. “Not everybody does that. Not everybody can do that job.”

In Conway, S.C., police held a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to announce that Council had been taken into custody. Town officials, police officials, FBI agents, CresCom bank officials stood together to announce the arrest of Council and express their sympathy for families of the two victims.

Jimmy Richardson, solicitor of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in South Carolina, said Council will be charged with two counts of murder, one count of entering a bank with intent to kill, grand larceny, armed robbery, possession of a weapon in the commission of a violent crime and felony possession of a pistol.

Federal officials are also working to determine what charges they will bring against Council, Richardson said.

The officials who spoke thanked all the local, state and federal law enforcement officers who worked on the case day and night since Monday, and one police official gave a special thanks to the Greenville Police Department for capturing Council on Wednesday.

Editor Bobby Burns contributed to this story.

Contact Beth Velliquette at bvelliquette@reflector.com or 252-329-9566.

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