HAMLET — A police officer was honored this week for the initial traffic stop that helped investigators from four departments in three counties identify suspects in a string of robberies.
Hamlet Police Officer Stephanie Watson was awarded a meritorious commendation for excellence in service by Chief Dennis Brown on Wednesday at City Hall.
Watson stopped a vehicle on Feb. 27 for traffic violations related to brake lights and a turn signal, according to Detective Sean Sullivan. During the stop, Watson also noticed that the tags didn’t match the vehicle.
Sullivan said the vehicle matched the description of one listed in a BOLO from the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office that was tied to a robbery.
Behind the wheel was 20-year-old Deonta Maurice Dumas, of Hamlet, and one of the two passengers was 39-year-old Delveckeo Lamont Goins of Snow Hill.
(Note: Dumas’ first name has also been spelled as “Denota.”)
Since no warrants had yet been issued, Watson just issued citations for the traffic violations, Sullivan said.
However, the information obtained during the stop was passed on to detectives in Richmond, Scotland and Marlboro (South Carolina) counties.
According to a Facebook post on Thursday, investigators “were able to establish sufficient information to obtain search warrants for the suspects’ homes and vehicles. The evidence gathered from those search warrants was instrumental in leading to the arrest of the suspects and the closing of numerous robbery investigations from multiple counties.”
Dumas is accused of trying to rob Conner’s Convienece, a store on East Broad Avenue in Rockingham, around 6:30 a.m. Feb. 21. He also allegedly robbed Shiv’s Corner, on the corner of Wiregrass and County Home roads, the same morning.
Dumas was arrested March 4 during a traffic stop after the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team served a warrant at a home on Blue Bird Lane, off of N.C. 38 south of Hamlet, where he was reportedly staying with Goins, who was arrested at the residence.
Richmond County Jail records show Dumas is charged with: two counts each of robbery with a dangerous weapon and second-degree kidnapping; and one count each of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault by pointing a gun, injury to personal property and discharging a firearm in an enclosed place to incite fear. He is being held on a combined $700,000 secured bond.
Goins is being held on a combined $525,000 secured bond in the Scotland County Detention Center on charges of: robbery with a dangerous weapon; conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon; discharging a firearm in an enclosed place to incite fear; and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Dumas’ next court date is scheduled for Aug. 10 and Goins is slated to appear Aug. 15 in Scotland County Superior Court.
South Carolina court records show no charges have been filed against either defendant in Marlboro County.
All defendants facing criminal charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Sullivan nominated Watson for the commendation “based on her proactive attitude, vigilance, and attention to detail,” according to the post.
“…without the information gathered during Officer Watson’s traffic stop, these criminals would have remained at large and possibly committing other serious crimes,” Sullivan said in the nomination letter.