Three men have now been convicted as part of an armed robbery at a North Myrtle Beach bank and resulting wild police chase that ended with gunfire, a wrecked police vehicle and junkyard arrest
A jury returned five guilty verdicts against Lance Hardiman this week. Justin Pressley already received 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to using a firearm during a robbery and witness tampering. A third man Rodrick Berklery received 30 years after pleading to the same two charges as Pressley.
Prosecutors said the three men robbed a South State Bank branch in May 2016. Witnesses said Hardiman stood at the door while Pressley and Berklery fired their weapons and jumped over the counter. They forced the tellers to empty more than $30,000 into a bag, threatening the women’s lives.
Bank employees were able to trip a silent alarm and place a dye pack in the bag, and they identified the car the men drove. A North Myrtle Beach detective spotted a car matching the description and began chasing the men. The officer said Pressley fired an AK-47 out of the car’s back window, while Hardiman fired out on the passenger side.
Investigators said the officer’s car was hit by two shots and the officer crashed after a bullet missed him by less than an inch.
Further down the road, a police lieutenant deployed “speed sticks” to stop the suspects’ car and then took cover as prosecutors said Hardiman fired at him. One of the shots struck the lieutenant’s vehicle.
Investigators said Berklery then lost control of the car and ran off the road. The three men then fled into the woods, although two were later arrested there while Berklery was later found in a junkyard wearing only his boxers.
The jury convicted Hardiman of armed bank robbery, witness tampering, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and two counts of using a firearm in furtherance of crimes of violence. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 years to run consecutive to any other sentences imposed and a maximum penalty of life in federal prison. Judge Harwell will sentence him after receiving and reviewing a presentencing report prepared by the United States Probation Office.