Thomas Summers

Police arrest man for stealing watermelon-flavored beer

BUCKHANNON – An Upshur County man who allegedly took four cans of beer from a local convenience store without paying for them was arrested Wednesday on several charges.

Thomas Clayton Summers, 29, of Tallmansville, was charged with shoplifting, first offense, a misdemeanor, after he allegedly took four cans of beer from the Vicksburg Fast Stop convenience mart Tuesday, Oct. 16, without paying for them.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s office, Summers entered the Vicksburg Fast Stop, walked to the back of the store, removed four 25-ounce cans of Natty Rush – the watermelon smash flavor – and concealed them in his coat.

When the cashier asked Summers to empty his coat pockets, he allegedly ran out of the store, according to investigating officer Cpl. Theron Caynor with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department.

The cashier contacted law enforcement and the store manager. Later, when Caynor was reviewing security camera footage, another customer at the store said she’d seen Summers walking toward the Poe Bridge, the file states.

Caynor located a person who matched the description given by witnesses in the Mount Union Church parking lot, but the person didn’t have Natty Rush with him at the time.

“I asked him to go back to the store and speak to the manager with me [but] he refused,” Caynor wrote in the complaint.

Nevertheless, Caynor snapped a picture of the person, who witnesses then identified as Summers. The cost of the beer totaled $7.16, the complaint states.

When he was arrested Wednesday, Summers was also charged with two additional misdemeanors stemming from incidents that allegedly occurred Oct. 1 and in May of 2017.

The Oct. 1 incident happened in the evening when investigating officer Cpl. Marshall O’Connor and Patrolman Tanner Collins of the Buckhannon Police Department were patrolling the Riverwalk park, according to the complaint.

The two officers saw a vehicle drive to the back of a parking lot and turn off its lights during the park’s closed hours, the file says.

O’Connor and Collins then “made contact” with the male passenger, later identified as Summers, who appeared to be under the influence, given his blood shot eyes, dilated pupils and “a greenish film” officers saw on his tongue, according to the complaint.

Summers allegedly initially denied having marijuana, but once Collins removed the driver from the vehicle, Collins again asked Summers, the passenger, if he was in possession of any controlled substances.

Summers then allegedly admitted he had marijuana in his pocket. At that point, O’Connor seized marijuana and two-and-a-half tablets of Ativan, which together weighed 2 ounces, from Summers, the complaint states. The complaint alleges police also found a marijuana bowl.

At the time, Summers was cited and released, but he was charged with possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor, when he was arrested on the shoplifting charges Wednesday.

Summers was also charged with petit larceny, a misdemeanor, when he was arrested this week. The alleged incident occurred on May 22, 2017, according to a criminal complaint filed by Cpl. Joshua Wilson with the BPD.

Wilson wrote that Summers allegedly entered GoMart and attempted to purchase a 24-ounce beer; however, a store employee refused to sell it to him because he appeared to be intoxicated.

Summers then allegedly grabbed the beer anyway and walked out the door.

Another GoMart employee – who was unaware the first employee had refused to sell the beer to Summers – followed him out to the parking lot, where Summers had climbed into the back seat of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, the file indicates.

Summers then allegedly opened the door of the Jeep and threw the beer in the direction of the store, which caused it to explode.

The file says that when the employee subsequently walked to the back of the Jeep to write down its license plate number, Summers “exited the Jeep and asked the employee if he wanted to fight.” He then climbed back into the Jeep, which drove off, the report shows.

Magistrate Mike Coffman set bond at $2,500 — $1,000 cash on surety for the petit larceny charge, $1,000 cash or surety on the possession charge and $500 personal recognizance on the first-offense shoplifting charge. Shoplifting first offense is a non-jailable offense, Coffman explained Thursday.

The penalty for a conviction of petit larceny is jail up to one year and/or a fine of up to $2,500, while the penalty for a conviction of possession of a controlled substance is jail time ranging from 90 days to six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Being found guilty on a first-offense shoplifting charge results in a person being fined up to $250 and being required to pay a restitution of $50 or double the amount of merchandise taken, whichever is greater.

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