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Ex-SC Air Force police officer gets 8 years in prison for role in Columbia ATM robbery

Judge's gavel. (Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/U.S. Air Force)

A 28-year-old Columbia-area man has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison for his role in stealing more than $100,000 from a bank ATM machine and threatening a security guard with a gun.

Federal Judge Michelle Childs sentenced Aquan Hopkins Wednesday at the U.S. courthouse near downtown Columbia.

Hopkins, a former U.S. Air Force police officer at Shaw Air Force Base, was one of six people who robbed the Bank of America drive-thru ATM at 5110 Fairfield Road in 2020. He is the first to be found guilty and sentenced.

On May 31, 2020, a security guard was servicing the ATM that afternoon, when two cars with six men inside converged on the machine. Some of the men hopped out, made the female guard lie down on the ground at gunpoint and took her pistol.

The guard, who believed she was going to die, now suffers from severe post-traumatic stress issues, assistant U.S. Attorney Elliott Daniels said Wednesday at the hearing.

In all, $108,940 was taken from the ATM.

Surveillance videos from the ATM and at a nearby food store helped authorities identify the suspects and their cars, a Dodge Charger and a Chevrolet Caprice.

After Hopkins was arrested, officers recovered $32,477, three handguns, a .22 caliber rifle and more than 200 bullets of various kinds at his apartment, an indictment in the case said.

Hopkins, a 2011 Eau Claire High School graduate, grew up in a broken family, his attorney Bakari Sellers wrote in court filings.

“He never had a relationship with his father, and his mother was in prison for many years,” Sellers wrote.

Hopkins, who attained the rank of staff sergeant, received a general discharge from the Air Force in 2020, Sellers wrote.

“He is happy to put this chapter behind him,” Sellers said. “He looks forward to a new day.”

The case was investigated by the FBI and Columbia Police Department.


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