Laron Jackson said he awoke in the middle of the night Monday with a man kneeling on his chest and a pistol pointed at his eyes.
"I recognized his voice," said Jackson, 24, who said it belonged to his brother-in-law. "He smacked the gun on my head and said, 'Now I have to kill you. I have to kill both of you.' "
Jackson didn't know it, but his 51-year-old mother had already been bound with duct tape in her bedroom.
Shortly before 4 a.m., Jackson's stepsister, her husband and three other men broke into the home on Dulamo Bluff Road on St. Helena Island that Jackson and his mother shared, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. They looted the house before leading officers on a manhunt that ended in the Gardens Corner area several hours later, according to sheriff spokeswoman Sgt. Robin McIntosh.
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The Sheriff's Office arrested Eric Wendell Mack, 24, of St. Helena; Veronica Ruby Mack, 25, of St. Helena; Jamin Jamal Anderson, 23, of Charleston; Robert Lee Lane, 23, of North Charleston; and Michael Eugene Hawkins, 23, of Charleston.
Veronica Mack is married to Eric Mack and is Jackson's stepsister.
All five suspects are charged with first-degree burglary, kidnapping, high and aggravated assault and battery, and criminal conspiracy, according to a news release. Additional charges could be filed. All were jailed at the Beaufort County Detention Center awaiting a bond hearing, McIntosh said.
A RUDE AWAKENING
The suspects kicked in the door of the home and bound Jackson's mother with duct tape. Jackson said he didn't hear them because of the ceiling fan in his room.
Then someone kicked in his door. He was pistol-whipped and bound with duct tape, McIntosh said. Jackson said Eric Mack wielded the gun and directed his accomplices to bind him.
Jackson said one of the attackers went to the downstairs kitchen, and he could hear the man sharpening a knife. He came back and tried to cut off the tip of Jackson's big toe.
Jackson credits creaky stairs for his escape. When he heard the man with the knife head back downstairs, he acted.
"I thought to myself, they're going to kill me," he said. "I'd rather die fighting. They were so stupid -- they duct-taped my hands in front of my face, so I bit it. I bit the duct tape off my hands."
Jackson jumped off the second-floor balcony and ran for help, he said.
"I jumped and I just started running," he said. "I was just hoping they didn't do anything to my mom since I left."
When he passed his stepsister in the getaway car in the driveway, she started honking the horn to warn everyone inside, Jackson said.
"My mom told me that Eric put the gun to the back of her head, said, 'I'm sorry, but I got to do this.' And right when he was going to shoot my mom, a dude came upstairs and said, 'The dude got away, the dude got away.'"
Jackson spoke on behalf of his mother, who he said was traumatized by the incident.
Jackson ran for help. Neighbor Lauren DeLoach said he heard something at the door when his wife woke up to take medicine.
"There was a man bleeding all over, and he said, 'Help me out, help me out,'" DeLoach said.
Jackson was treated for non-life threatening injuries at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, according to a news release. Jackson said he needed stitches in his toe and head. His mother was not harmed.
A LENGTHY PURSUIT
Jackson's mother escaped when the attackers fled after Jackson escaped. At least one took her car but abandoned it a few houses down, according to a news release.
A Beaufort police officer spotted the gray Ford van the attackers were driving and stopped it at the intersection of Carteret and Duke streets, according to the news release. But the driver took off and led police on a chase.
Sheriff's deputies took over the pursuit near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort until the vehicle stopped in the area of U.S. 17 and Kinlock Road, and two suspects ran off.
Veronica Mack, Eric Mack and Robert Lane were arrested at about 4 a.m., according to the jail log.
The sheriff's K-9 Tracking Team pursued the remaining two suspects, according to the news release. The reverse 911 system was used to notify residents in the Big Estate area, and several residents reported seeing suspicious people near the cemetery on Bull Corner.
Jamin Anderson was arrested at 9 a.m., according to the jail log. The final suspect, Michael Hawkins, was not arrested until about 11 a.m., McIntosh said.
An AK-47 was thrown from the van during the chase and recovered by deputies, according to the release. Two pistols and a stolen TV were found in the van.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeonPortRoyal.