Beaufort News

Suspect identified in St. Helena armed robberies, shooting


Beaufort County sheriff’s investigators are looking for a 22-year-old New York man they say is responsible for two armed robberies and a shooting last week on Sea Island Parkway on St. Helena Island.

Julius Presley Rooks of Freeville, N.Y., is a suspect in the Dec. 21 armed robbery of the Express Lane, and the Dec. 23 attempted armed robbery of Island Plaza and the shooting of the store’s owner, according to a news release Tuesday. The suspect also goes by the name Rooks McBean, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators say that at about 6:20 p.m. Dec. 21, two black men — one later identified as Julius Rooks — entered the Express Lane carrying a handgun and what appeared to be a sawed-off shotgun. The men demanded money and ran away after being given an undisclosed amount of cash by the clerk, the release said.

Two nights later at about 11 p.m., Rooks and an unidentified Hispanic man entered the Island Plaza where 59-year-old Jay Patel was working behind the counter, the release said. Rooks approached Patel, demanded money and then shot Patel in the chest, the release said. Both men fled without stealing any money, according to the Sheriff’s Office. A spokesman for Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah said Patel was released Saturday.

Rooks is wanted on two counts of armed robbery, one count of assault and battery with intent to kill, and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. He might be driving a silver 1997 Lexus ES300 with New York license plates, according to investigators.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with any information about the crimes to contact Investigator Cpl. Brian Chapman at 843-470-3469, Investigator Cpl. Jason Fraser at 843-470-3267, or the Beaufort County Dispatch Center at 843-524-2777.