No trial for man accused of taking hostages at bank

2014-05-29T00:30:00Z No trial for man accused of taking hostages at bankBy RICHARD WALKER, T&D Staff Writer The Times and Democrat

A man who says he talks to angels has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial for holding bank employees hostage in a 2012 police standoff.

Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein ordered Elvis Prince to be admitted to the state Department of Mental Health’s custody until he can be found competent to face criminal charges.

Prince, now 27, was arrested and charged with 20 counts of kidnapping in connection with a January 2012 standoff with police at South Carolina Bank and Trust on John C. Calhoun Drive.

A forensic mental evaluation conducted on Jan. 23 of this year recommended court-ordered hospitalization after the Beaufort County native was determined not competent to stand trial.

Prosecutor Don Sorenson said Prince’s charges will be dismissed for the time being. Prosecutors can restore them should he ever be found competent.

According to the evaluation report, Prince answered many questions logically and rationally, saying at one point he would refuse to answer questions without an attorney present.

However, Prince did go on to tell psychiatrists that regardless of the outcome of his case, he “would want to tell the court about the angels and his beliefs about his role in eradicating the beast from the seas.”

“Everybody needs to know, people need to know that the devil is coming,” he is quoted in the report as saying.

Prince admitted that as a child he had been seen by mental health experts. He declined to elaborate, but said he didn’t start having dreams and hearing angels speak until he was about 23.

He said he believed he was royalty and had been instructed to preach that the devil was coming by “angels in my head. I had dreams about them ... (they) told me I was royalty, I was important and to keep striving,” according to the report.

It went on to say that Prince stated he was of the same bloodline as Jesus. He said he had been informed by angels that he was the second Messiah, whose job it was to rid the world of the beast of the seas, who he identifies as Martin Luther King Jr., the report continues.

According to the report, Prince said he has had to fight off King, who has tried to take over his body, adding that King will be resurrected at some point in the future.

Orangeburg Department of Public Safety officers were called about a hostage situation at the downtown banking facility on Jan. 17, 2012. For nearly an hour, police attempted to negotiate with the man inside holding a woman at knifepoint and other bank employees at bay.

Authorities said that as the first hour of the standoff ended, the situation deteriorated to the point that immediate action was necessary. Multiple armored officers with weapons drawn rushed the interior of the bank from three doors.

Prince told psychiatrists it had been his calling to be a sacrificial lamb “trying to get myself killed,” the forensic mental evaluation states.

During his bond hearing in 2012, Prince made a motion to have all evidence against him suppressed and requested a mental evaluation for not only himself, but for the witnesses as well.

Raised by foster parents on St. Helena Island, Prince’s only previous charges were traffic violations.

At one point, according to the report, he told doctors he had moved to Landmark Towers in Orangeburg — a block behind the bank — two years before the stand-off because he was being threatened by the devil.

“He then laughed quietly, explaining when asked, ‘Seems funny ... ’” the evaluation report states.

n Contact the writer: rwalker@timesanddemocrat or 803-533-5516. Follow Walker on Twitter @rwalkertandd for insight on the cops beat.

Copyright 2016 The Times and Democrat. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. Harvey Elwood
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    Harvey Elwood - May 29, 2014 8:07 am
    This is good news as I reported at the beginning of this episode; far too many mentally ill individuals are placed in prison facilities that only complicate matters. Fortunately no one was harmed in this situation and it became clear to those that evaluated Mr. Prince that very serious issues were present. Hopefully in the future individuals that perhaps maybe living on the edge are referred and/or receive the help they need. There have been too many incidents in recent times that could have been resolved without lost or harm to human life. It’s time to take these matters more seriously and recognize the important role mental health organizations and professionals play in deterring horrific and tragic circumstances.
    Harvey Elwood, Jr. - Orangeburg
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