Jeffrey Coley didn’t get away with the colonel’s recipe when police say he pointed a gun at employees working the drive-thru window of a Rock Hill Kentucky Fried Chicken this week.
Instead, the married father of one daughter who told a judge that he works 40 hours a week at another restaurant selling chicken, sped away with $516. And two cents.
On Wednesday morning, Rock Hill Municipal Court Judge Dolores Williams denied bond for Coley, who said he was an employee at the Chick-fil-A in Indian Land.
Mark Baldwin, a Chick-fil-A corporate spokesman, said Coley was fired from his job June 18 when he failed to show up to work two days in a row. Coley did not mention his termination in court Wednesday, but said he owns property in Fort Mill he estimates is worth more than $28,000. He’s also lived with his mother in Charlotte for the last year and a half, he told Williams, after his father, a pastor, died.
Police arrested Coley, 50, on Tuesday after they identified him as the man who pulled up to the KFC on East Main Street, held a pistol at employees through his car window and demanded cash from the register Monday afternoon. Employees surrendered $516.02, according to arrest warrants.
Coley fled in a Plymouth Neon with a North Carolina license tag. For a day, police searched for the car, finally spotting it while they were working a car crash at the intersection of Taylor Street and Crawford Road.
Officers activated their blue lights and sirens, but Coley allegedly didn’t stop and led police on a pursuit on Heckle Boulevard. The chase extended onto Dave Lyle Boulevard, where Coley crashed into another car near Springsteen Road. The pursuit continued into the northern end of the city before officers used stop sticks to cause Coley to crash into a ditch on Cel-River Road.
Police found the cash drawer still in Coley’s car, along with less than a gram of methamphetamine, according to Rock Hill Police. Coley was charged with armed robbery, possession of a firearm during a violent crime, possession of methamphetamine and failure to stop for a blue light.
Wednesday morning, Williams communicated with Coley via a jail camera, offering him the chance to apply for a court-appointed attorney. Coley told Williams that he makes $8.50 an hour at Chick-fil-A, supporting his unemployed wife and daughter. He owns property in Fort Mill, he said, and explained that he would soon receive the title to the car police say he was driving.
“Mr. Coley, based on the fact that you are employed, you do have an income and you do own land and you are expected to receive a title to a vehicle, I am going to deny your application for a court-appointed attorney,” Williams told Coley. “You will have to hire an attorney to represent you.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Coley answered.
Norman Dobson, KFC area manager, told Williams that the two employees held at gunpoint have been traumatized by Coley’s actions.
“Neither one of these young ladies has worked since the incident,” Dobson said. “They’re terrified; they’re not getting a good night’s sleep. He’s turned their lives upside down ... . They’re out there trying to make an honest living and this is what they got.”
Dobson said Coley also endangered motorists when he pulled off from the restaurant, passing in front of cars at the Belleview Square Shopping Center on East Main Street.
“There were a lot of lives put in danger,” he said, requesting that no bond be set on Coley, or at least “the maximum amount that the law will allow.”
After forbidding Coley from stepping foot into any KFC or speaking with anyone who works there, Williams declined to set his bond. In the coming months, Coley will appear before a Circuit Court judge for another chance at bond. For now, he will be jailed at the York County Detention Center.
A manager at the Indian Land Chick-fil-A declined to discuss Coley’s employment and said he was unaware of his alleged involvement in the robbery.
Jonathan McFadden • 803-329-4082