Shoplifting case turns ugly
GOOSE CREEK — The Wal-Mart parking lot turned into a free-for-all of fighting, wrecked cars and mayhem Thursday when a man accused of shoplifting $12 worth of bath and hygiene products refused to be taken into custody.
When it was over, police determined the man and an underage accomplice had made off with only four items — a 4-ounce can of personal body spray, a 12-ounce bottle of soap and two tubes of deodorant — while triggering a car crash that wrecked four parked vehicles and led to thousands of dollars in damages.
"He definitely had a serious reaction" to authorities, Goose Creek spokeswoman Casey Fletcher said of the adult accused in the case. "It's not typical that someone being approached for shoplifting would take the situation to this extreme."
Arrested in the case was Johnny Arthur Byrd, 18, of North Maple Street in Summerville. He faces a variety of charges — 15 in all — ranging from being a felon in possession of a firearm to hit and run, drug possession and three counts of assault with intent to kill.
After his arrest, Byrd reportedly told police several times that "he would rather die than to serve the time on all these charges," police documents say.
Byrd was taken to Trident Medical Center for a mental evaluation but was later released and taken to the Berkeley County detention center, where he was awaiting a bond hearing.
A 15-year-old boy also was taken into custody and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and shoplifting. He was released to a parent.
Goose Creek police officers joined the case about noon Thursday after two males were reported fighting with three Wal-Mart loss prevention officials in the parking lot of the store on St. James Avenue.
As the dispute progressed, the two males got into a black Nissan Pathfinder and, as the engine was gunned, the driver "at a high rate of speed attempted to run over" the three Wal-Mart security employees.
Goose Creek police Capt. John Grainger said video of the event shows the Pathfinder appears to have driven away but then comes back to make a run at the employees.
The accident occurred when the Pathfinder went over a divider and slammed into a parked car, triggering a chain reaction that involved the three other vehicles.
At the wreck site the driver's car became inoperable. That's when both occupants got out and ran through a nearby tree line and field.
Byrd was arrested first after a perimeter was set up and a police dog was called in. When he was confronted by police, he reportedly threw down a silver .38-caliber handgun. He had marijuana with him, a drug scale and 19 cartridges wrapped in a glove, police said.
Byrd also was found carrying a 12-ounce bottle of Axe shower gel, according to police.
The teenager was found later in a woman's home where he reportedly was in the process of bathing. He was wearing a towel. It's unknown if either suspect has an attorney.
Since turning 18 last year, Byrd has amassed multiple arrests in the Summerville area, with convictions for marijuana possession, cocaine possession, receiving stolen goods, injury to property and criminal conspiracy.
Grainger said shoplifting is common these days but this case is unusual because it escalated into a life-threatening event more often associated with serious crime sprees.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551, or firstname.lastname@example.org.