Gilbert Smith, left, and Christopher Demarcus Bethea

Gilbert Smith, left, and Christopher Demarcus Bethea

Following a three-month investigation, a second suspect has been arrested in connection with an armed robbery at a Southern Pines jewelry store.

The robbery was reported about 5:40 p.m. on July 28 at Zales Jewelers in Pinecrest Plaza. According to the Southern Pines Police Department, one of the suspects entered the store with a firearm before forcing an employee to remove multiple rings from a display counter.

After being ordered to place the rings in a bag, the victim and another employee were marshaled into a restroom, the agency said in a news release. The suspect then ordered the workers to “secure themselves with nylon ties that were brought by the suspect.”

The robber fled the store with more than $300,000 worth of merchandise, the release said, and left the scene in a “waiting vehicle.”

Less than 48 hours later, police arrested Gilbert Smith, 57, in Laurinburg. Smith was in possession of some of the stolen jewelry at the time of his arrest, the release said.

Authorities later recovered the rest of the stolen merchandise, save for two rings, from Smith’s home in Fayetteville. He is charged with robbery with a firearm and possession of stolen property.

On Saturday, police arrested Christopher Demarcus Bethea, 42, in Greensboro. He is charged with robbery with a firearm and two counts of second-degree kidnapping.

Bethea is a resident of Hartsville, South Carolina. The police department said law enforcers in that state, along with authorities in Greensboro and members of the FBI, assisted with the investigation.

“The Southern Pines Police Department has worked tirelessly to establish and maintain outstanding working relationships with law enforcement professionals, not only locally, but throughout the country,” Chief Bob Temme said in a statement. “The importance of unified law enforcement relationships and efforts has once again been highlighted in this investigation.

“It was these relationships that ultimately brought both Gilbert Smith and Christopher Demarcus Bethea to justice.”

Bethea was jailed in Greensboro under a $585,000 secured bond.

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