Woman with concealed pistol prevents robbery, sexual assault, maybe more. Criminal shot dead

(THE STATE)   A small woman in her 50s working as a hotel clerk at a Columbia area Days Inn shot and killed a robber “more than double her size” Monday morning, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said.

The man, Vincent Carson, 43, of Orangeburg, had held a knife to her throat, put the knife down and was apparently going to tie her up and sexually assault her, Lott said.

“He was a career criminal on a crime spree and would not have stopped except for what happened this morning,” Lott said later Monday.

The woman had been the victim of a prior robbery and had gotten permission from her hotel supervisor to carry a concealed pistol, Lott said.

“She did not have a concealed weapons permit, but you don’t need one on private property where you have permission,” he said.

The clerk was preparing the hotel’s breakfast about 6 a.m. when the attack happened at the Days Inn at 133 Plumbers Road, near I-20 and Wilson Boulevard.

Carson was hiding in the breakfast room, apparently waiting to ambush her, Lott said. Carson had brought along cords to tie up the woman, Lott said, adding Carson weighed a good 250 pounds and was more than six feet tall.

But when Carson put the knife down, Lott said, the victim shot him.

Carson died of one bullet wound to the chest, according to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts.

The clerk was physically unhurt but was very shaken up, Lott said. “Our victim services unit is assisting her … She is devastated by this. She did not want to take someone’s life, but she was put in a position where she had absolutely no choice.”

Lott said Carson had a lengthy criminal record in New York and New Jersey and was wanted in connection with a hotel robbery in Orangeburg.

Law enforcement normally cautions people caught in a robbery to cooperate, Lott said. But when a situation escalates to where a victim feels their life would be in danger, the victim has to decide whether to take more drastic action, he said.

“This had escalated beyond a robbery to a sexual assault, and we don’t know what would have happened beyond that,” Lott said.

“She did the correct thing — she protected herself.”

“The lesson for robbers is, you never know when you are going to encounter someone who is armed and will protect themselves,” Lott said.

Lott declined to give some details, such as the kind of gun the woman had and where she had it concealed.

“The bottom line — he is the one who caused him to get killed,” Lott said.

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