James Bellamy

James Laverne Bellamy

A suspect in a series of recent crimes that happened in Horry County and North Carolina, including a murder outside a Longs area grocery store, appeared in a Columbus County courtroom Monday.

James Laverne Bellamy who has been held at the Columbus County Detention Center in North Carolina told Judge Jerry Jolly he would contest extradition to South Carolina.

Bellamy, who was handcuffed, appeared to smile a few times, though his demeanor was also expressionless at times during his brief appearance in court.

He said he didn’t have a source of income and the judge said he was eligible to be represented by a court-appointed attorney.

Bellamy faces three counts of robbery with a deadly weapon charges out of North Carolina. Bond had previously been set at a total of $150,000 on those charges but that total was upped to $500,000 during the hearing.

A previous bond amount on a charge relating to Bellamy being a fugitive of justice remains at $5 million, having been set by a magistrate.

Extradition and probable cause hearings will be held in September.

In Horry County, Bellamy faces charges of murder, two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, three counts of kidnapping and two counts of armed robbery.

Bellamy is being charged in connection with a murder at a Food Lion in the Longs area and a robbery at Carolina Inn in the Loris area.

Probable cause has since been developed to charge him in connection with a robbery that happened on Fox Bay Road, police said.

“Once those warrants are obtained the specific charges will be released,” a release said.

The murder victim from the Food Lion case was identified as 57-year-old Gerard Celentano, said Horry County Deputy Coroner Michelle McSpadden.

He was originally from New Jersey but had been living in Horry County for about a year and a half. He died due to a gunshot wound.

On Wednesday, Aug. 15, officers responded to Food Lion located at 110 E. S.C. 9 in the Longs area in reference to a carjacking and homicide, police said.

It was reported that a black male armed with a gun confronted a store employee in the parking lot and demanded that the employee unlock the store.

At the same time, two other armed black males reportedly confronted a person sitting in a car in the store’s parking lot who was later identified as Celentano.

The suspects fired into the vehicle, identified in a police report as a white Chevrolet Cavalier, killing the victim, police said.

The subjects stole a gray Nissan Altima bearing a “SC PFP 140” tag, fleeing the scene.

Officers were advised the Altima headed toward Little River on S.C. 9., the report said.

A short time later two other armed robberies happened in the Loris area, police said.

One happened at Carolina Inn located at 312 U.S. 701 North in the Loris area, and one to an individual broken down on Fox Bay Road, police said.

“There is reason to believe that these robberies were also committed by the individuals from the Food Lion incident,” a release said.

A victim in the Carolina Inn case said while he was sitting at his work station, two people approached him before pointing a gun at him, demanding money from the business’ cash register, an incident report said.

The victim told police after handing the two suspects the cash register, they took money and left the scene.

In regards to the Fox Bay Road case, a victim told police two black males pulled up next to him on the road, exiting a vehicle and demanding the victim’s wallet and phone, a report said.

The victim refused and a handgun was then pointed at him. The victim’s phone and wallet were “forcefully grabbed” from him.

It is also believed that a short time later the same individuals then robbed a store in Chadbourn, North Carolina.

“They are believed to have still been operating the vehicle stolen from the Food Lion incident,” a release said.

Bellamy was located by the U.S. Marshals Task Force and detectives with Horry County Police in Fair Bluff, North Carolina, police said.

The Task Force took Bellamy into custody without incident.

Horry County Police thanked the U.S. Marshals Task Force and the Horry County and Columbus County Sheriff’s offices as well as Fair Bluff, Chadbourn, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach police and all of the department’s “other local, state, and federal partners” for the agencies’ assistance.

The Chadbourn Police Department in North Carolina responded to an armed robbery at the Fire Up #2 Quik Mart. The suspects were described as two armed black males dressed in dark clothing driving a 2015 gray Nissan Altima, a release said.

Bellamy faces three robbery charges in connection with the Chadbourn Quik Mart robbery, police said.

WMBF News contributed to this report.

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