Lone survivor pleads guilty to six crimes in 2013 Pizza Hut robbery

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Submitted: Tue, 09/02/2014 - 3:03pm
Updated: Wed, 09/03/2014 - 4:25pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The lone surviving suspect from last fall’s Pizza Hut robbery in Wilmington, which ended with police shooting the suspects, has pleaded guilty.

Jalani Smith admitted this morning to four counts of common law robbery and two counts of kidnapping.

Police say Smith, Ronald Roland and Tevin Robinson robbed the Pizza Hut on S. 17th Street the night of Oct. 25. Police say they watched as the men inside brandished weapons and ordered employees around the building.

When they exited, officers were waiting. Investigators say when the suspects refused to follow orders and ran toward officers, the officers opened fire. Roland and Robinson died. Smith was injured.

According to our partner at the StarNews, testing later determined Roland was armed with a flare gun and Smith had a BB gun, said District Attorney Ben David.


  • Kimber says:

    To the people saying they wish this young man was dead. You’re just as ignorant as a person that you’re trying to throw stones at….
    I hope and pray that his parents are not reading this hateful garbage. They are both great people. Unfortunately their son committed a crime in this not paying the price and he apologized for it. He wasn’t at the he just did something very stupid.

  • Erlkoenig says:

    I wonder how many of these “just as ignorant” people are convicted felons.

    I think his parents have bigger issues than these posters.

  • Kimber says:

    None of the guys were convicted felons, sorry to disappoint you. Jalani was a ROTC grad and had finished his freshman year in college.

  • Abu Al Salam says:

    Don’t these guys (robbers thugs etc) know they are going to get caught.
    I don’t think these three could outsmart the K9, much less the Police.
    17 street is not an out of the way place. And to make it that much more ridiculous, someone sent in a tip.

    Well 2 paid the ultimate price, and the third should get life in prison since his two buddies died due to the robbery.

    For all the snoop dogs and gangsta wannabes, you’re not that bright. give it up before they close the bag on you.

  • notrust says:

    These replies sound like knee jerk reactions, looks like we hit a nerve…. There is absolutely no excuse for this not being on video…i believe a video exist somewhere…and i bet that video does not look good…the last thing i want to do is defend a criminal….but…the way this was handled is creepy….what if they did surrender?

  • Shiniqua Locke says:

    Jalani we love you and you will be home soon!!! Your Family and Friends are here for you all the way through… Hold your head held high and think of it as one day closer to being back home. WE LOVE YOU MAN!!!

  • Heimie Schmelter says:

    This worm should be getting life in prison with out the possibility of parole. 12-15 years will put this criminal back into society in 6 years or less and he’ll be right back at it again.

    I have no idea why our judges and DA’s allow such weak sentencing for career criminals like this. Remember this at the next election!

  • Kimber says:

    You know what your exactly right. I’m sure no one that is posting these ignorant, racist insenstive comments has ever committed a crime in their life.
    BACK TO REALITY In all seriousness yes his family does have bigger things to worry about than these stupid post but who wants to see comments stating that their child should’ve been killed too. People really need to grow up.

  • Erlkoenig says:

    If you had comprehension skills you’d know I wasn’t referring to the criminals mentioned in the story.

    And let’s face it,the benefit here is that we all don’t have to hear about the dead criminals’ civil rights for the next 2 years.

  • guesty says:

    …and spray, some of these thugs have built up a resistance to bullets.

  • Tim says:

    Want to solve your crime problem in Wilmington? Tell the Democrats to stop building massive public housing projects for their welfare-dependent voters. And start tearing down the ones you have now. Give Wilmington back to decent, hardworking, taxpaying citizens who care about their city!

  • guestrav667 says:

    I do not feel comfortable about the way the police handled this, they were tipped off before this happened and I have wondered if this was a planned execution. Scary as the robbers behavior appears this was really petty crime, a few hundred dollars, right? I think the police put everyone life in danger spraying bullets around a public place. Since the police knew a head time, this could have been handled differently. Had I been a customer at pizza hut that night, I would not want to be that close to police gunning people down. The police were tipped off, they could have planned this out much better. I think the only reason one of the robbers survived was because he was too far back to be killed or I think they would have killed him too. I do not think these guys were give a chance surrender, I wonder if the police used the tip they received about this to plan executions rather then to resolve this peacefully. I would be afraid to tip the police off if I thought they would misuse this information to stage an execution under the the pretense of protecting people. For me it comes down to, do I believe the police gave these guys a chance to surrender, I do not believe they were given that chance. I do not trust the police. This should have been on camera, the fact that this is not on camera makes me very suspicious as to what really took place. All police should have cameras on them, to protect the public as well as them.

  • xyz123 says:

    Yeah, your stupidity. There’s no point even trying to address your moronic comments. Can’t fix stupid.

  • Mrs.B says:

    This headline is tearing at my nerves. At first, it annoyed me because it makes the criminal sound like a victim. I have reread it about 5 times throughout the day and it kicked in, I remembered Marcus Luttrell as a “Lone Survivor”. This guy is anything but a survivor. He is a prisoner of his own making and rightfully so. I assume he is extremely grateful at this point for his terms verses the alternative. I appreciate this news source, but damn if I don’t get heated over the little things, like editing and bias.

  • Guest2020 says:

    You need to ask those people in Pizza Hut, if this was a petty crime. Robbery at gunpoint and being held at gunpoint is not a petty crime.

    There had been a lot of robberies in the area at that time. The officers were keeping a close eye on things and were in the vicinity. That is why they were able to get there quickly.

    All investigations in this case show that the officers were justified in the shooting. The guilty plea is an indication that this was justified. It was not an execution.

    Had I been a customer at the Pizza Hut, I would understand the police firing on the individuals who failed to comply. I would understand the need for the police to defend themselves. I wouldn’t want the officers to take a bullet without defending themselves.

    The cameras that are on police cars are usually activated when the blue lights are turned on. Since they didn’t want the thugs aware that they were in the parking lot, they didn’t have their lights on. Had the lights been on, then we would probably be discussing a hostage situation.

  • jj says:

    I really love people like you. You have no clue to what police officers go through. I am sure all these guys woke up that morning and said ” I think I will kill someone tonight”. It is easy to second guess what has happen in the past. How about you taking BLET course and join a PD and change the world.

    You would last a week.

  • Guest2020 says:

    “You would last a week.”

    I think you give guestrav667 too much credit.

  • trash says:

    A .50 cent bullet would have saved the taxpayers thousands of dollars. Now we will have to take care of this “thug” at a cost of $30,000 to $40,000 a year.

  • guestabc says:

    These guys were not regular people who just made “a bad decision”. A bad decision is texting while driving and rear ending someone. Going into a business with guns with the intent to rob the employees and business is deplorable. How do you think those victims felt? It’s not about racism – it’s about right and wrong. These guys were 100% wrong. If any of these guys were my family member, I would be embarrassed and ashamed. And you say they weren’t “sitting and lurking in a dark alley way for an unexpecting victim”. I guess they weren’t, but they did run into a business robbing unsuspecting victims using guns. Victims who actually work for a living, instead of robbing people. You should really think about the situation before you defend the actions of these criminals.

  • guesty says:

    The police didn’t murder anybody. They shot violent criminals.

  • Dr. Walter Bishop, Fringe Division says:

    Children? NO! Murdered? NO! Yet another example of someone who wants to divert blame in any way they can away from the thugs and place it on law enforcement. Your friends would still be alive if they didn’t go into a business ARMED, threaten and terrorize the hard working employees and then come out with guns in hand disobeying orders from the police. They got what they deserved.

  • Mechanic says:

    Well, Brantley, let me tell you something. My kids are not basic thugs, so there has never been a reason to forsake them. How can you say that someone that holds people at gunpoint and robs them is not a hardened criminal? I mean, he didn’t steal a snack from a convenience store, or drive off without paying for his gas, he held other human beings at gunpoint. Who knows how it would have unfolded had the police not gotten there when they did. I have made many bad decisions, but never one to rob a store. You are totally unbelievable, as are your pals running around the streets. You think scum like this should be dealt with like they were 10 year olds skipping school. You people are losing ground fast. Go put on your “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” T-shirts and think about where this is going.

  • jj says:

    I who have to ask you Brantley are your for real or you just joking with us? “These guys were regular people who just made a bad decision. They were not harden criminals, sitting and lurking in a dark alley way for an unexpecting victim.” How many places do you have to rob, before you are a harden criminal. Were the people they rob expecting it?

    You live by the gun, you will end up dying by the gun. Thank you WPD for getting these regular people off the street.

  • Shannon D says:

    A couple of things for you.

    1. If you went to college there is no way you passed with that grammar.
    If those were you children ( REALLY?)
    2. Regular people do not rob innocent people at gunpoint. If this is regular people to you then…… We know what kind of people you are!
    3. I is capitalized always! ( What college are you attending again?)
    4. These children were murdered? Children are not out robbing pizza hut and innocent people at gunpoint! Children, little innocent chubby cheeked children do not RUN from the police. These were thugs, living a thug life and the lone survivor admitted that in court!
    5. Who was suspect of shooting the officer- again college, really?
    6. Kudos for the one fifty cent word – outlandish.
    7. I bet if we knew your real name we would see a rap sheet as well. I guess that’s just normal folk- IF YOU LIVE IN THE HOOD!

    Normal people,go to school, work, and support their children. They have fun without stealing and holding guns to innocent people. I guess you never thought about the poor innocent children and families that had worked hard to pay for the pizza hut meal they were eating when your buddies assaulted and robbed them!

    So when we say darn one got away what we mean to say is …Let your just reward begin Mr. Thug! He deserves to have the same fear his victims had that night they chose to ” have a little fun” now is his fun time, justice style! Black, white, yellow, red, or blue smurf skin tone didn’t matter that night. What mattered was MEN with guns who had just robbed a store CHOSE not to stop and obey the police, that’s what NORMAL people do! I could go on and on and on.

  • portcity' says:

    Brantley…If I am understanding you correctly you are also backing these thugs…These guys made very bad decisions that ended with their lives being taken. T-rock could have decided to stay home that night but instead went to rob a pizza hut and terrorize the employees. (keep in mind this is fourth or fifth time in week a pizza joint was robbed by “armed Robbers”. T-rock could have came out with hands up but instead decided not too. These guys OWN decisions ended in there own demise. They had plenty of chances not to do these “BAD” things. And the guy that shot the cop and stated “that the cops would only bring him in, in a body bag” got exactly what he wanted… He had a whole week to turn himself in. He could have not shot a cop and could have gotten away with a plea deal for “Felon in possession of weapon. Instead he chose to shoot cop and run from cops when he could have surrender. It’s funny people always say it was just “one” bad decision. One decision can change your whole live. And even his baby momma got on TV to tell us what a good guy he was. Same guy she took charges out on and had a restraining order against for beating and threating her. Same guy that had a child support charges out on her. And same guy that has probably shot or killed before. Same guy that would have robbed or shot you if you came and walked through wrong hood in Wilmington. These guys were shot and killed because they were violent criminals. NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE BLACK…

  • worried parent says:

    Damned if u did, Damned if you don’t….You complain when armed men are shot, You complain when unarmed men are shot. The thing is these are not men. REAL Men earn for a living and don’t have to steal and terrorize others. These were violent and bad men. How about the family being happy they will get to see this criminal every weekend, and he will be free before my children are 18. Just wait till this man gets out and is arrested for killing or robbing again. Great FAIL justice system…

  • Guest2020 says:

    The thugs outside of the Pizza Hut met the same fate for the same reasons that Brandon Smith did. They committed violent crimes. When confronted by the police, they refused to comply with commands. They made threatening motions toward the police and they were shot for their efforts. There was no murder involved. The shootings have been ruled justified and that ruling is the correct one. There is an old saying, if you live by the sword, then you die by the sword. These thugs died as they lived and got the justice that they deserved.

  • Citizen2 says:

    Point well made port city. Couldn’t have said it any better. They made the “bad” decision and need to suffer consequences. Btw, he’s getting off far to easy if you ask me.

  • Prof. Seymour English says:

    Unfortunately, I cannot concur with your point number “3”.

    Although “I” (or “i”, both are correct in the context of this post) is generally perceived to be “capitalized always”, that is not always the case. Even when presented in a first person perspective, if it is used in the sublimated past person diminished tense, either usage is correct.

    (Don’t feel bad; most people who smugly critique other people’s usage of the English language are also unaware of this.)

  • Guest2020 says:

    The big picture is that these thugs are/were old enough to know the difference between right and wrong and they chose to do wrong. When an officer is facing the barrel of a gun or any other threat, the last thing on his mind is going to be what the person looks like. With these three men and Brandon Smith, if they had simply complied with the commands made by the officers, then they would not have been injured or killed at the hands of the officers. The only people to blame in all of this are the criminals. The officers were justified.

    You claim that no one calls names when white men do something stupid. You are wrong. One only needs to look at the comments on the stories regarding white thugs. The people who post in this forum are equal opportunity name callers when it comes to criminals.

  • sissy says:

    Its a sad story when a mother looses her child to the grave or to the jail system. The truth is what the boys did is not something that i condone they were wrong but lets look at the big picture two mothers loss their children the whole situation should not be about black or white it is sad that their have been too many young black men that has been killed by police some are innocent and some not. How many are they going to kill makes me wonder is this really about thugs or just simply race.not sure why you people call young black men thugs im wondering if you would like it when white men do something stupid no one calls them names its just not right at lease have sympathy for the mothers and family simple as that

  • portcity1984 says:

    These kids call themselves thugs. We ain’t making things up….look up the definition, this criminal is just that a thug or thug wannabe. They are listening to too much rap music…as far as sympathy these kids should have had more sense than to go out robbing, where was their sympathy or respect. Stop taking up for criminals and trying to pass blame making this about racism.. He should never be able to get out off prison, Two people died because of his choices(OR lack thereof)…

  • guest45 says:

    The only thing sad about this story is this thug wasn’t killed too, we all know that when you choose to steal and hold a gun on people that you are going to have to pay the consequences, there is no doubt that had those other 2 not been stopped then they would have continued a life of crime until they murdered or raped someone, and when this one get’s out of jail, (at the taxpayers expense I might add) he will take up exactly where he left off, and somewhere along the line he will steal, rape, rob, or murder some innocent person, so it is hard to feel sympathy for anyone like him, whether he is red, white, or blue, it goes back to parental involvement, and if somewhere in the future parents start getting held responsible for the actions of their kids, this world will see a turnaround!

  • QuietOne says:

    You are so wrong. This group or commenters is equally hard on white, hispanic and asian criminals. Criminals are criminals. You hold people at gunpoint and rob them, then you are a thug regardless of race. Live by the gun, die by the gun. I’m not saying anyone deserves to die. No one deserves that, but actions like these men did increases the chances of that outcome by 100x. Where were the families and friends of this men while they were terrorizing honest workers? Are you telling me NO ONE knew what they were up to or did they just look the other way and blame it on the police when things went bad? They chose they fate. Period.

  • guest705 says:

    I don’t care if you are a blue Easter Bunny, rob a store and point a gun at police and you should expect to be shot.

  • CARLA says:


  • Mechanic says:

    Too bad Jalani didn’t run toward the officers too. Would have saved the taxpayers a lot of money. I saw on the news where some of the black community (his aunt, for one, I think it was) was downplaying what this thug has done. Don’t they understand that by backing such behavior, they are actually condoning it and are setting themselves back and keeping racism alive and well? He needs to go to jail for a long, long time.

  • Brantley says:

    If those were you children mechanic would you forsake them. If so then we recognize what type of person you are. Not condoning his actions but this event goes to show that it is easy to throw away your life. These guys were regular people who just made a bad decision. They were not harden criminals, sitting and lurking in a dark alley way for an unexpecting victim. I miss T-Rock aka Tevin, and i knew him from college at A & T here in Greensboro. An how are they promoting racism. Is it because they are upset that these children were murdered by the Wilmington police department like they murder all they murdered the other black guy who was suspected of shotting the officer in the leg. No your promoting racism with you outlandish comment Mechanic

  • Jerry H says:

    You always hear the rant when police arrest a black thug claiming he’s innocent but never an apology when he pleads quilty.

  • portcity says:

    Doesn’t matter what these thugs do there is always someone pointing the blame elsewhere and not wanting to take responsibility for their actions. There is always someone that blames it on officers but the family should be looking at themselves for allowing this young man to be out robbing and stealing instead of being at home with family or being in school. Can’t wait for the “FREE JALANI” t-shirts. Once they stop condoning these thugs actions and admit that a man can commit a violent crime then maybe they can become productive members of society, Until then you will have friends and relative that “Die or go to jail” and the finger pointing will never end. Easy to make an excuse but not always easy to solve the problem. They should stop protesting against police brutality when its been investigated and proven justified by state and federal investigations and start protesting these thugs that may one day grow up to rob, rap, or kill, our children….

  • Kimber says:

    He apologized in court.

  • Guesttoo says:

    Which one is easier?

    1) Raise a kid right with morals, values and a sense of self-worth.


    2) Wait until a rudderless young adult commits a violent crime and then cry, moan, march and protest?

    Proactive or reactive? Evidently, #2 is a little easier as evidenced by current events. Just think, if #1 were supported, Al, Jessie and the gang would be out of a “job”.

  • tweety13 says:

    Which article did you read that this young man or his family said he was innocent.Your question should be why the police always have a video but not one this time of(of the shooting)

  • QuietOne says:

    You don’t read the comment section very often do you? This friends and family were all over it claiming he was innocent and framed by police.

  • guesty says:

    The marchers the other day were talking about how they support him. I wonder if they still feel the same way or if they will grow a spine and stand up to criminals….

  • xyz123 says:

    Soetoro, “If I had a son, he would look (and act) like Jalani”.

  • Worried Parents says:

    It’s gives me pain knowing that this man was giving a 12-16 year sentence for this incident. Two people lost their lives and many more were terrorized. My uncle got life in prison for being a suspect in a bank robbery and served over 30 years. No one died and was charged by eyewitness testimony, no evidence ever tied him to the crime. Knowing that this man will be out in 15 years, probably more like 8-10 pains me. My daughter will then be old enough to work at a pizza hut or another store. Our justice system is flawed and we should not tolerate these plea deals giving to the violent and dangerous thugs in Wilmington. Our leaders and justice system has failed us yet again, and again…..One day one of these judges that allows a criminal a plea deal will be affected by the same thug she/he let off. Until then you will continue to let the animals free.

  • PublicAvenger says:

    This Armed Robbing, thug, will be out in less then four years.

  • PublicAvenger says:

    When we build another Housing Project. We should name one street Michael Brown Blvd. and another, Jalaini Smith St. In honor of these two harmless, peaceful, gentle-giant, victim, boys, who the horrible police, “abused” for “no reason”. Rev. Sharpton, Louis Farahkan, Jesse Jackson, and Spike Lee, can come down for the dedication. And we can have a march. Bring grocery carts for the ensuing riots and looting.

  • Another Guest says:

    Many people are still talking about the families of the thugs that pushed and got what they deserved – the term thugs used of course in the generic way having nothing to do with race.

    On the race thing… What if three white / Asian / Hispanic / black guys went in to a restaurant, held people at gunpoint while robbing them, then exited the restaurant where cops were waiting and issuing orders that they ignored? Do anyone think for a second that the outcome would be different based on race? An armed thug ignoring lawful orders is likely to be neutralized regardless of who or what they are.

    What about the long term effects on the innocent people that they threatened to actually murder – all in the name of stealing a few bucks and cell phones. While this one will be out in a few years, many of the people that went from zero to watching their lives flash before their eyes in nothing flat will still be having nightmares.

    The thugs, on the other hand, had a pretty good idea of what they were up to, and what was going to happen, and what might (actually did) happen. In this case, two got, and one almost got what they deserved.

    I know one of the employees that was directly threatened, and she’s a different person now because of the shock she experienced. Good ole’ NPC gave her some time off at her expense, and then said “hurry up, back to work – or don’t, your choice”. The particular Pizza Hut had and still has no security for their employees. No, not the one on 17th….

    So, all you race baiters and whiners out there, it has nothing to do with race. These were not good people – none of them! Not the three Pizza Hut thugs, not the one that shot the deputy, and not the one that the dog scratched after trying to kill the cops running a checkpoint.

  • A guest says:

    Are these the same thugs that were doing the jobs all over wilmington and leland? Seems that now that the “investigation” is over, that piece of info could be released.

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