Officer Matthew Taylor of the Elizabethton Police Department responded to the shoplifting call around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. When he reached the Walmart parking lot, security personnel pointed toward a wooded area between Walmart and the Watauga River. Taylor said he then saw a man running into the woods.
Cpl. James Deese began running after the man. Officers were able to subdue the man and identified him as James Allen Buckingham, 28, 297 Holston Mountain Road. Security personnel told police that store security cameras showed Buckingham stealing $26.56 in merchandise. Buckingham was charged with shoplifting and resisting arrest. He is scheduled to answer the charge in Sessions Court on Oct. 24.
During the pursuit, officers were told that others involved in the incident had returned to a red Nissan 240 parked in the parking lot. When officers reached the car, they reported finding Gary Franklin Fletcher, 35, 1330 Tenn. Highway 91, sitting in the car.
Officer Trevor Salyer reported that officers found several items in the car, including a firearm, three .410-gauge shells, a plastic bag containing a crystal substance which was field tested and determined to be 3.2 grams of methamphetamine, two glass smoking pipes, $440 in cash and digital scales. Officers said Fletcher admitted to selling and using methamphetamine.
Fletcher was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm in commission of a felony, possession of schedule II drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Cpl. Sarah Ellison-Dingus reported that a woman in the car, Melissa Ann Blevins, 28, Valley Street, was found to be in possession of a glass pipe with residue, several used syringes, and other items which led to the issue of a summons charging her with possession of drug paraphernalia. She is scheduled to appear in Sessions Court on Sept. 26.