On May 12, 2021, at 5:20 pm, Officers with the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office responded to 1911 American Ave in the Turbeville area of Clarendon County in reference to a 911 call from the homeowner advising she had just entered her home and encountered a burglary in progress. After encountering the burglar in her home, she retreated to her father-in- laws residence next door.
The first Deputy arrived on scene at 5:24, approximately 4 minutes after the call. As more deputies arrived, they began to clear the residence, encountering an armed suspect. Deputies retreated and surrounded the house. Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office SRT Team was dispatched and arrived on scene with the Sheriff’s Office Armored Vehicle. After several attempts to call the suspect out of the house, he refused and fired two gunshots towards the deputies at the front of the house, bullet striking the ground near them.
At this point, Sheriff Baxley called SLED for the assistance of their SWAT Team. Upon arrival of SLED, SWAT Officers assumed positions around the house and a negotiator with the Team began communicating with the subject inside of the house. The house was equipped with the Ring Camera System and Officers were able to watch and communicate with the suspect thru the homeowner’s phone app. The suspect in the house eventually turned the camera’s facedown where he could no longer be seen.
SLED SWAT Team deployed 3 mobile robots into the residence at different times to view and communicate with the suspect. The suspect could be heard but not seen on the video. It appeared from the video that the suspect had barricaded himself on the upstairs floor of the residence which included two bedrooms and a bathroom.
After several hours of trying to negotiate with the suspect with no avail, OC gas was released into the residence in an attempt to drive him out. After much time, and several cannisters of OC Spray, the suspect would not comply and continued to remain barricaded in the upstairs portion of the residence.
Around 3:35am on May 13, 2021 SLED SWAT Officers released more OC Spray and entered the residence in an attempt to apprehend the suspect. A SLED K-9 accompanied the team and was released in the barricaded upstairs area of the residence. The K-9 entered one of the barricaded bedrooms and encountered the suspect under a bed. The K-9 removed the suspect from this location allowing SWAT Officers to effect an arrest.
Arrested was 46 Y/O Robert Ashley Wheeler III of the New Zion area of Clarendon County. Wheeler was just released from prison in November of 2020. He was serving a 15-year sentence from 2008 and was released on a Probation and Parole Community Supervision Certificate. His record shows he has past convictions for 11 counts of Burglary, 2 counts Grand Larceny, 1 count Kidnapping, 1 count Armed Robbery, and 3 counts of Auto Break-ins. He also has current pending charges in Florence County for 1 count Grand Larceny, 1 count Forgery, 1 count Receiving Stolen Goods, 1 count Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent Over $2000.00 and 1 count of Petit Larceny. He was out on bond for these charges when arrested for this incident.
He will be charged by Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office for 1 count of Burglary 1st, 1 count Possession of a Deadly Weapon During a Violent Crime, 1 count Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and 10 counts of Attempted Murder.
Wheeler is currently being held at the Clarendon County Detention Center awaiting a bond hearing.
Sheriff Baxley stated: I would like to thank all the Clarendon County Deputies, The Clarendon County Fire Rescue, and SLED for their quick response and assistance in this matter. I appreciate the professionalism and cooperation of all agencies involved to make the outcome of this incident successful. By that, I mean no officer, nor the suspect was shot, and an arrest was made. I would also like to thank the Manning Police Department for assisting with providing an officer on scene as well as assisting with other calls of service in the county while this incident was ongoing.