By Joe Johnson
A shoplifter who was arrested last week for pulling a gun on an Athens grocery store employee who confronted the thief as he wheeled a shopping cart full of merchandise from the store has been charged with an additional count of felony shoplifting and faces an additional assault charge for allegedly pulling a knife during a previous shoplifting incident, Athens-Clarke County police said.
The suspect, 47-year-old Garland Alan Paschal of Ashmore Drive, who was already wanted for two previous shoplifting incidents was arrested April 14 after officers saw him as a passenger in a car that was subsequently stopped.
Paschal, who police called a “frequent and repeat shoplifter," began his most recent theft spree last month when he twice targeted Lowe’s on Lexington Road, stealing more than $1,000 in merchandise on March 19 and the following week stole more goods from the store that totaled in excess of $1,000 in value.
At about 2 p.m. April 13, a Walmart loss prevention employee contacted Athens-Clarke County police Det. Nathaniel Franco and sent him a photo of who they believed to be Paschal leaving their store, setting off the door alarm.
Then, at about 4:15 p.m. April 14, a male walked out of Aldi on Gaines School Road with a shopping cart full of food, a rug and detergent, and when an employee followed him out, asking if he paid, the male yelled at the employee to get away and allegedly pulled a gun and pointed it at the employee, at which point the employee backed off and the thief fled with the shopping cart, according to police.
The Athens-Clarke detective determined that the thief was Paschal.
“I was able to match up the clothing that the Aldi suspect was wearing with the Wal-Mart footage and determine that it was the same suspect in both cases,” Franco said. “I was able to confirm that Paschal was the suspect and I obtained felony shoplifting warrants in the two Lowe's cases, and also a felony shoplifting warrant and aggravated assault warrant in the Aldi case."
Paschal was arrested later in the day Feb. 14 when officers conducted a traffic stop in the Nellie B Avenue area on a vehicle in which Paschal was observed to be a passenger, police said.
“The Corona beer hat he wore in both the Walmart and Aldi incidents were recovered, as well as a very distinctive shirt with Pink Flamingos on it that he was wearing” in both those incidents, according to Franco.
In a search subsequent to the traffic stop, Paschal was found to have a crack pipe, police said.
The suspect was booked into the Clarke County Jail on three counts of felony shoplifting and one count each of aggravated assault and possession of a drug-related object.
On Monday, Paschal was re-booked into the jail on charges related to the Walmart incident.
“He was booked on new charges of criminal trespass and theft by shoplifting from the Walmart case that wasn't finished when he was initially arrested,” Franco said.
The detective said he will be seeking warrants on Paschal from a September shoplifting incident at Kroger on U.S. Highway 29 North in which he allegedly threatened an employee with a knife when the employee tried to stop him from leaving the store without paying for food and clothing that filled a shopping cart.
“At the time, I wasn't able to identify Paschal as the suspect, but I have now been able to do so,” Franco said. “I will be seeking to charge him with felony shoplifting and aggravated assault in that case as well.”
Paschal on Tuesday continued to be detained without bail at the Clarke County Jail.