Local News

Two N.C. State Students Arrested After Crime Spree

Posted February 23, 2006
Updated February 5, 2007

— Raleigh police say two North Carolina State University students went on a rampage of robbery and shootings early Thursday morning.

As police escorted the suspects off to jail Thursday evening, 18-year-old James Lyons had only expletives to say to reporters. However, 19-year-old Timothy Williams hung his head low.

Police said both men, who had clean records, for unknown reasons, allegedly decided to go on a crime spree, with four separate incidents near the campus.

Most of the victims, other N.C. State students, reported the crimes early Thursday morning, but a fourth victim came forward later Thursday. Details about the fourth incident were not immediately known.

While no one was seriously injured, authorities said one attempted robbery victim was lucky to be alive after a .32-caliber bullet was fired into her car, went through her driver's seat and grazed her arm.

At about 2 a.m., Lindsey Ranck, 21, was stopped at a red light on Cates Avenue when, she said, a man in dark clothing wearing a dark baseball cap tried to enter her vehicle.

"It was like the scariest 10 seconds I've ever experienced, Ranck told WRAL in an exclusive interview. "It was really scary."

Ranck said she turned her head toward the driver's side door of her car and saw a man reaching for her door handle.

"All of a sudden, I was like, 'I've got to get out of here,' and I sped off," she said. "Wheels started hydroplaning and then I heard this loud boom."

Ranck said she ran through the red light and headed down Pullen Road.

At that point, she saw another man in the shadows. Ranck told police that she then heard a noise and discovered that her car's rear windshield had been shattered.

"I screamed and I was just so terrified that I couldn't stop shaking," Ranck said. "I couldn't stop crying."

Authorities said a bullet went through the car's rear window, into the driver's seat and grazed Ranck's arm. Ranck was able to drive to Hillsborough Street, where she found a police officer.

"Half of me crying was tears of joy because I could've been paralyzed, I could've been killed," Ranck said. "I'm really thankful that all I got was a bruise on my arm."

Raleigh police believe the incident may be related to two other incidents that happened about 15 minutes earlier.

The first incident occurred shortly at about 1:45 a.m. when a group of friends were robbed at gunpoint from inside their vehicle at Hillsborough Street and Ashe Avenue, police said.

Returning from a concert, the group was being followed in another vehicle by a second set of friends, who pulled up, saw the robbery in progress, and took off after the robbers, who were driving in a truck.

"I've never seen anything like this in my entire life," said one of the victims, Trevor Cook. "It was just kind of a coincidence. We were actually separated from the other car when we pulled up behind them."

Nearly two blocks later, victims said one of the robbers leaned out the truck's window and began shooting at the second group of friends.

"They shot at us," Cook said. "We just heard it, that was enough for us."

From start to finish, police say the students' four-crime spree took place in less than an hour.

Police said both Lyons and Williams lived on campus in Beckton Hall. According to information from N.C. State, Lyons is a freshman studying turf management, while Williams is a freshman studying agriculture.

Each now face two counts of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill -- all felony charges.

They are being held in the Wake County Jail under $5 million bond each.

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