Shoplifting leads to high-speed chase, felony charges



Many received a Nixle alert during the 9 p.m. hour Friday advising residents that there was possibly a black male waving a gun in front of the ABC package store on Ala 75 in Oneonta. At 10:50 p.m., a second advisory went out indicating the subject had been apprehended.

According to Chief Charles Clifton, Oneonta Police Department received a call from Walmart indicating that a black male had shoplifted more that $1,400 of electronics and was leaving the store. Waiting in a car in the parking lot were two accomplices.

The loss/prevention employees tried to stop the shoplifter and accomplices; however, they were unable to. The trio traveled down Kudzu Road. Oneonta officer Wes Buchanan met the car on Valley Drive. After a high-speed chase through town, the car wrecked behind The Flower Shop.

All three suspects bailed out of the car. Two were apprehended immediately and taken into custody, while the actual shoplifter ran near Third Avenue. With the help of his K-9 Odin, officer Skylar Kennedy (pictured above) was able to track the third suspect and take him into custody a couple of hours later.

Clifton said no gun was ever found despite one of the first two suspects telling OPD that the shoplifter said he had a gun. Clifton requests that if anyone does find a firearm to call OPD.

Ronald Watters, 22, Charles Bouyer, 41, and Andrew Bonner, 32, all of Pleasant Grove, were booked into the Blount County Correctional Facility on Friday, April 3, at 9:42 p.m. Each had a $1,500 bond. Watters and Bouyer were released to the street on Monday, April 6.

Andrew Bonner, now listed as from Birmingham, was released and rebooked on Monday, April 6, under a $10,000 bond. He was charged with Theft of Property Third. As of 4 p.m. Monday, Bonner remained in the Blount County Correctional Facility.

Clifton said since the trio did not have a legitimate reason to be out during this pandemic, they were each charged with “COVID-19, Attempt to Elude Municipal Emergency Ordinance Violation.” The suspects are not believed to have COVID-19, it is just the name of the charge.

Despite rumors, Clifton wants the public to know that marshall law has not been established, and OPD is not setting up roadblocks to catch people out on the road. He did emphasize; however, that if his officers come in contact with anyone for violating the law, including speeding, the municipal ordinance violation would be attached to the original charge. The financial penalty for the municipal ordinance violation can be from $25 to $500 and up to 90 days in jail.

Because there continues to be numerous questions, Clifton plans on updating the OPD Facebook page with a copy of Friday’s Stay at Home order. He advises everyone to stay home unless they are essential workers, receiving medical care, or shopping for food.