Police say shady theft suspects got physical
Two men caught trying to pocket sunglasses Thursday face possible robbery charges for attacking a gas station clerk who intervened, according to Grass Valley police.
Justin T. Allen, 21, of Grass Valley and Zachary N. Newman, 21, of Georgetown were arrested on suspicion of robbery at about 3:30 p.m. at Express Mart on South Auburn Street, across from Hennessy School, Sgt. Mike Hooker said.
They were booked into Wayne Brown Correctional Facility on $15,000 bail each. The two would have faced misdemeanor shoplifting charges without the alleged attack, Hooker said.
A store surveillance camera showed the suspects and a third man grabbing sunglasses off a rack before a clerk confronted them, Hooker said. Then Allen grabbed the manager by the shoulder and Newman climbed on the manager’s back, the sergeant added.
“They all went to the ground, and you can see them (on camera) punching the clerk,” Hooker said.
The sergeant said Newman’s story changed during interrogation – from claiming he bought the sunglasses in Auburn, to saying they happened to be in the borrowed sweatshirt he was wearing, to denying officers found him with sunglasses.
As for the clerk, he was “a little sore from getting punched on, but he’s OK,” said assistant manager Carol Hughes.
Newman and Allen had been released from jail earlier Thursday after appearances in Nevada County Superior Court, a correctional officer said.
Allen was released after completing a sentence for a traffic violation, and Newman was released on his own recognizance for an undisclosed charge, said the correctional officer. Further details weren’t immediately available.
Police are still looking for a third man who slipped away with sunglasses and wasn’t part of the altercation, Hooker said.
The suspect is described as white, with buzz-cut brown hair, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 145 pounds and wearing a plaid flannel jacket.
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