Five people, including three juveniles, were arrested Saturday evening for the robbery of Lee’s Food Mart #13, located across from Commercial Bank in New Tazewell.
According to the police report, the robbery occurred around 5:36 p.m.
According to a police report, a suspect, later identified as Gary Lynn Bunch Jr., 21, went into the store wearing a surgical mask. There were three female customers in line, and he stood behind them. When the cashier rang one of the female’s purchase and the cash drawer opened, Bunch allegedly jumped up on the counter and began pulling money from the cash drawer. He then ran out of the store. He did not have a weapon, according to police.
The cashier activated the emergency panic button to notify the police. Upon arrival, Officer Bill Davidson of the New Tazewell Police Department (NTPD) questioned the female witnesses, who all volunteered to stay and talk with law enforcement.
All three females told Davidson they had not seen the suspect before, according to the report.
Davidson said he became suspicious of the females’ stories when none of them matched up, and they also had calm demeanors.
“If someone witnesses a robbery, you expect them to be nervous,” he said.
The store manager came in and audited the cash drawer and found $197.20 was missing, according to the report.
The females were released to go, but Davidson investigated further. He eventually went to the home of the juvenile male, who had been driving the vehicle in which Bunch left. He found all five people there and arrested all of them on charges related to the robbery. Sgt. Mike Patton, Officer Harrison Cornett and Det. Wayne Mewhinney also assisted in the investigation and arrest.
“This was not a random act,” said Mewhinney. “This had been planned, even to the point of putting witnesses inside the store while the robbery was happening so that false information would be given to the police in an attempt to hinder their investigation into the crime.”
Charges were placed for all five.
Bunch is charged with robbery, theft under $500, three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and violation of conditional bond.
Natasha Faye Goins, 18, is charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, false reporting to police and accessory after the fact.
The juvenile male, 17, is charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, theft of property under $500 and driving on suspended license. Juvenile female number one, 16, is charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, false reporting to police and accessory after the fact. Juvenile female number two, 17, is charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, false reporting to police and accessory after the fact.
Bunch and Goins were being held in the Claiborne County Jail and the three juveniles were being housed at the Richard L. Bean Juvenile Detention Center in Knoxville, all awaiting arraignment as of press time.
Mewhinney expressed his gratitude to the Tazewell Police Department and the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance in the case.