TEXARKANA, Texas — The cases of two men accused of stealing from a local home improvement store in late May and running from police in early June are headed to a Bowie County grand jury.
Thomas Earl King Jr., 23, and Martell Devon Johnson, 26, allegedly sped away from Lowe's in Texarkana, Texas, in a 2017 Nissan Maxima after being confronted May 28 by store employees over some tool and battery kits, according to a probable cause affidavit. King allegedly walked out of the store without paying and showed employees a gun in his waistband before getting in the Maxima.
King allegedly told the employees to back up while he threw the tools into the car and before climbing in the passenger seat. Using the tag number recorded by Lowe's staff, Texarkana, Texas, police identified the owner of the Maxima as Johnson's grandmother. Johnson had allegedly been in possession of the car for the past year.
On June 4, investigators were contacted by staff at Tri-State Pawn Shop in Texarkana. King had allegedly been in the pawn shop attempting to sell tool kits, which were still in their original packaging.
The same day, Texarkana, Ark., police attempted to pull the Nissan over but the driver, allegedly Johnson, fled. The car was spotted in the 500 block of Richmond Road and Texarkana, Texas, police attempted a traffic stop. The car sped away and a pursuit ensued.
The car was found abandoned in the 1400 block of Richmond Road. Bowie County Justice of the Peace Todd Fore happened to be in the area and observed two men run from the car and into the Hillside Village complex. Using video surveillance footage from the apartment complex, officers were able to determine the men had entered an apartment and were still inside.
Police quickly set up a perimeter around the unit and a SWAT team was called because the residents of the apartment were not answering, according to earlier reports. After more than an hour, a woman who rented the apartment, several children and Johnson exited the apartment. Johnson was taken into custody.
The woman who exited the unit told police King was hiding in an air duct. A robot was deployed into the apartment and it could be seen that an air vent was open but King's whereabouts could not be determined.
Officers allowed King's grandmother and father to use a megaphone to speak to King but he remained somewhere in the apartment. Officers then dispersed pepper spray and tear gas into the apartment and King surrendered about five minutes later.
King remains in Bowie County custody. Johnson is free on bonds totaling $120,000.
Both men appeared in court earlier this month for preindictment hearings. Johnson appeared July 21 with Texarkana lawyer Shorty Barrett before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell and plans to refer the case to a grand jury were announced. A similar announcement was made at a hearing July 13 for King.
If indicted for aggravated robbery, the men face five to 99 years or life in prison if convicted.