1 arrested in restaurant robbery

CLOVER -- Two masked, armed men forced three McDonald's workers in a freezer early Monday before they robbed the Clover restaurant and led police on a 15-mile chase into North Carolina, officials said.

No one was hurt in the robbery, which happened around 4 a.m. at the Clover McDonald's at 905 Bethel St. Nearly 12 hours later, police arrested one man while his first cousin remained at large, said Officer Terry Taylor of the Clover Police Department.

William Lewis Sims, 40, of 1908 Front St. in Gastonia, N.C., was charged with armed robbery, Taylor said. Pending charges could include four counts of kidnapping, possession of a weapon during a violent crime and criminal conspiracy, he said.

Police still are looking for 38-year-old Tony Lamar Youngblood of 1508 W. Walnut Ave. in Gastonia, who also faces an armed robbery charge. Pending charges could include four counts of kidnapping, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, criminal conspiracy and failure to stop for a blue light, police said.

Both men were let go from their jobs at McDonald's in Gastonia in July, Taylor said. Early Monday morning, they drove to McDonald's, he said.

"Tony Youngblood came to Sims and advised that he needed some money to pay bills," Taylor said. "Sims was aware they were coming to rob the store."

Youngblood parked his car across the street from McDonald's, Taylor said. Eventually, the men left the four-door, white Cadillac, crossed the street and hid behind a large trash bin and waited.

Around 4 a.m., two men clad in ski masks and gloves approached two maintenance employees who were preparing to help unload a delivery truck. One was armed with a shotgun, and the other had a handgun, Taylor said.

"They took the maintenance employees and the truck driver by gunpoint to the freezer," Taylor said. "One gunman stayed in the freezer with his gun drawn, and the other man went to the manger's office. He pointed his gun at the manager's head and demanded money."

The female manager was able to open a safe from which the man took an undisclosed amount of money, Taylor said.

The man told the woman to stay in the office before both men fled in the car, he said. The men traveled west on Bethel Street toward U.S. 321 and the downtown area.

Less than half a mile away, a police officer stopped the car, according to a report from the Clover Police Department.

"He walked back to his car to get some information," Taylor said. "When he did, they took off."

The report states the officer pursued the men, who traveled north at a high rate of speed on U.S. 321 into Gastonia, according to the report.

At one point, the car slowed, Taylor said. Sims jumped out of the vehicle and rolled to the side while it was still moving, he said.

Youngblood continued driving and jumped from his car, the report states. The car went down an embankment and crashed into a tree, according to the report. Taylor said no one was injured.

Both men fled on foot, according to the report.

The canine unit was called to the scene but was unable to track the men, Taylor said. Police did not recover the money or weapons from the car.

However, officials recovered two ski masks and cloth gloves worn by the men, he said.

Around 4 p.m., police went to Sims' home and saw him walking down the street, Taylor said. Officials also found a weapon on the side of the road near his home.

Sims remained in custody Monday night at Gaston County Jail. Bond was not set, Taylor said. Officials had not determined Youngblood's location. They believe he may be in Gastonia, he said.

"He is considered armed and dangerous," Taylor said. "Anyone caught harboring him could face charges."

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Clover Police Department at (803) 222-4485 or CrimeStoppers of York County at 1-877-409-4321.