Several Pine Bluff police officers were cited for their performance during the recent Coffee with the Chiefs, including one who was able to talk an armed suspect who had just robbed a dollar store into dropping his weapon.
Sgt. Jeremy Brown was the first officer to arrive at Family Dollar at 1113 S. Blake St. on July 29 after police received a report of a robbery in progress; in his report, he said that when he arrived, there were cars on the parking lot and more people getting out of their cars walking toward the store.
“To avoid a possible hostage situation, I yelled for them to get back into their vehicles and I parked my unit towards the back end of the store so the suspect would not be able to see me,” Brown wrote. “While I waited for more officers to arrive on scene, I saw an older black male (later identified as) Walter McCray walking out of the business holding a bag that appeared to be containing money in one hand and a small black handgun (Kal-Tec .380) in the other hand.”
Assistant Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant said Brown approached McCray at gunpoint and told him several times to drop his weapon but McCray refused to comply and continued walking, carrying the bag and the gun.
Sergeant said that under the circumstances, Brown would have been justified in using deadly physical force on McCray but “because of his patience, Sgt. Brown was able to talk the man into dropping his weapon and didn’t have to shoot him.”
Officers Collins and Griffin
Officers Kevin Collins and Donald Griffin were recognized for two separate incidents where they located suspects involved in the robbery of two individuals and an escapee who was considered armed and dangerous. Collins received a third commendation for his actions after a burglary at a pawn shop.
Regarding the robberies, Lt. Derrick Price said in a memo to Deputy Chief Kelvin Hadley that there were two back-to-back robberies on June 16, and Collins was able to locate the suspect vehicle at Tyson Foods. When he approached the vehicle, the suspects took off at a high rate of speed and refused to stop for law enforcement officers.
“The fleeing suspects, which presented an immediate danger to human life, continued to avoid arrests for several felony offenses,” Price said in the report.
He said officers chased the suspect vehicle from Blake Street on the west side of town to Olive Street on the east side before the suspect vehicle wrecked at the intersection of Harding Avenue and Olive Street and two suspects fled on foot. Griffin tackled one of them, and detectives were able to identify the second suspect.
Regarding the escapee, Sgt. Brad Vilches said in a report that the Arkansas State Police had contacted Pine Bluff police and asked for assistance in locating the escapee, and they had an address where he might be found on Jones Street in the Dollarway area.
Collins and Griffin went to the back of the house, where they saw a man run back north into a wooded area; he was taken into custody after a chase. When that suspect was interviewed, he provided information that the escapee was at a house on Mosley Street, where he was arrested.
“Due to Officers Collins and Griffin catching the first subject, we may have never located the escapee,” Vilches said in his report.
Collins was also recognized for his work after responding to a burglary at Po’ Boy Dollarway Pawn Shop on Dollarway Road on July 3.
The owner of the business said that a gun shelf was missing from the wall, and while other officers searched the building, Collins walked into a wooded area behind the business where he located a large brown wooded gun shelf with 10 long guns inside that the owner of the business identified.
“Officer Kevin Collins did a fantastic job in searching the area and finding these weapons that were going to go into the wrong hands and possibly lead to more of the random shootings that have occurred in this community,” Hadley said in a memo to Sergeant.
Officers Merritt, Harris, Smith, Meachem and Lt. Dixon
Officers Michael Merritt, Derrick Harris, Tamina Smith, Phillip Meachem and Lt. Billy Dixon were cited for playing a part in the apprehension of four suspects involved in a robbery including the recovery of more than $14,000 and recovering a weapon that had been used in the robbery.
According to a report from Sgt. Derric Neal, the Super 1 Foods at 1605 E. Harding Ave. was robbed on June 14, and Merritt and Meachem were at the store in seconds after the call was dispatched. They saw a suspect running with a red bag jump a fence behind the building, where he dropped a red bag containing over $14,000 in cash, along with a gun.
While on the scene, a vehicle was seen speeding away that was believed to have been involved in the robbery; after it wrecked at Harding Avenue and Chestnut Street Smith, police recovered a stolen gun, and Harris was able to take one of the occupants of the vehicle into custody. That incident was separate from the robbery, but Neal said in the report officers initially thought it was connected.
Using store security video, detectives were able to identify the four suspects involved in the robbery; they were arrested at another location.
Lt. Derric Price said in a report that the entire incident, from beginning the time of the robbery to the arrest of the suspects, took four hours and five minutes.