Pine Bluff police have arrested two Camden men in connection with the shooting death of Brandon McHan during a robbery at his business — Wise Buck Pawn Shop in Pine Bluff — on Nov.12.
At an early Tuesday morning press conference, Officer Richard Wegner said Rodney Henry, 21, and Daryl Strickland, 21, were taken into custody at two different locations at Camden and brought back to Pine Bluff where they were interviewed. They have now been booked into the adult detention center on probable cause of capital murder, aggravated robbery and attempted capital murder.
Henry and Strickland are expected to appear in district court at Pine Bluff Wednesday for a probable cause hearing.
Wegner said during the course of the investigation that two individuals were identified as possible suspects, and officers were able to secure a search warrant for a residence in Pine Bluff, where they located physical evidence that they are not currently ready to identify.
That evidence was sent to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory at Little Rock, which confirmed it was linked to the two suspects.
At about 11:30 p.m. Monday night, Pine Bluff police detectives and agents with the Federal Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) New Orleans Field Division, which joined the investigation because McHan was a licensed federal firearms dealer, met with deputies from the Quachita County Sheriff’s Department and Camden Police Department, then went to two separate locations that were close to each other and made the arrests.
McHan, who was 34, was pronounced dead at Jefferson Regional Medical Center from gunshot wounds. An employee of the business, Jason Booth, was shot several times and taken to a Little Rock hospital, where he was treated.
In addition to the robbery at the pawn shop, Henry and Strickland were also identified as the suspects who robbed the Alon Convenience Store at 28th Avenue and Olive Street about an hour after the pawn shop hit.
More than $40,000 had been offered in rewards from the ATF, the National Sports Shooting Foundation, the Arkansas Pawn Brokers Association and others for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons involved in the death.
Regarding that reward, Wegner said detectives will get together to discuss whether anyone provided sufficient information to justify awarding it. If so, it will be done privately and confidentially.
Jeff McHan, Brandon McHan’s brother, spoke at the Tuesday news conference, saying that “My family has had a really bad past month, but I can’t tell you how much we are so proud of law enforcement for coming through for us. My family will be able to sleep better at night knowing that these animals are where they are supposed to be. I’d like to thank God for helping these detectives. I’d like to thank God for all of your support, and all of the help my family has gotten.
“I can’t tell ya’ll in words about how proud I am of the Pine Bluff Police Department, the ATF, Camden; anybody that was involved in this investigation. I’m very, very proud of them, and they are my top people, I can promise you that.
“My twin brother did not deserve anything like this. He was just trying to help this town out, and out of towners came in and did this. I’m glad it wasn’t Pine Bluff people. That’s not our people. Pine Bluff people, me and Brandon were born and raised here, and they know us too well, and they know we are good and they don’t mess with us like that. I am so glad that it was somebody from out of town.
“I’m so glad that the police department was able to find these guys so quick, because there are so many murders out there that don’t get solved, even with video, surveillance, and everything else. You just never know, and I’ve had my doubts, but they are all erased now, and I know we got the right guys and that makes me and my family so happy. It will allow us to sleep at night, and it will allow us justice for Brandon. We got it, we got it. We got justice for Brandon!”
In addition to the allegations against Strickland and Henry in Jefferson County, they each face separate allegations in Ouachita County. Strickland was charged with rape, a Class Y felony, on Feb. 26. The criminal information filed in the case said that on Nov. 18, 2017, he “engaged in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity with another person by forcible compulsion.”
As far as Henry is concerned, he was charged with theft of property more than $5,000 but less than $25,000, a Class C felony, and first-degree criminal mischief, a Class A misdemeanor, based on an incident Sept. 21, 2018.
Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant said during Tuesday’s news conference that “When you have an investigation like this, and as long as this investigation went – I will tell you from a chief of police perspective, I saw how these officers worked all day long, all night long. Matter of fact, what led to the arrests this morning started around 2 p.m. yesterday. If you look at two of these detectives behind me, they are two of the lead detectives, and they have not been home yet. They constantly have worked on this investigation day in and night out, literally.”
Sergeant also offered words of thanks to other agencies that helped apprehend the suspects.
“I want to call a few names,” Sergeant said. “First, I want to start with the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. They had several special agents that came down and assisted us in this investigation, and information was literally moved around all the way from New Orleans to Virginia, and Washington D.C. They used different facets of technology to help us in this case. Special Agents John Norris, Jim O’Connor, Kenny Maddox, Warren Newman, Tyler Cowart, and Shannon McKitrick-Cruz.
“I’m calling their names because since the day this incident happened until (today) they have been here constantly assisting us with this investigation. So, I want to thank the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Little Rock field office for everything they have done to assist the Pine Bluff Police Department in this investigation.
“The lead detectives for Pine Bluff were Tamina Smith and Kaylon McDaniel, and the sergeant who assisted them was Sergeant Derrick Neal. So, I thank them, the swing shift detectives. The Pine Bluff Vice and Narcotics and Violent Crimes unit at points assisted in solving this case.”
— Commercial special correspondent Luke Matheson contributed to this report