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Suspect leads police through store in chase

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Several shoppers making a run on food supplies just prior to the arrival of a winter storm witnessed an in-store police chase and struggle at the eastside Walmart, police said.

Shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday, loss-prevention specialists at the store, 735 Whitfield Drive, notified police that a man who had been inside for a long period of time was caught by security cameras removing a knife and BB gun from their packaging and pocketing them, Columbus Police spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said.

When the suspect attempted to leave the store, he found himself confronted by officers who had just arrived. Although the man initially acted as if he would comply with police commands, he took off running as he was being escorted back into the store, Myers said.

The suspect ran through the grocery area just as additional officers began entering Walmart from several different directions, Myers said. When the man found himself face-to-face with patrolman John Velton in the back of the grocery area, a struggle resulted with both men wrestling on the ground, Myers said. Velton sustained minor facial injuries as the suspect was taken into custody, he said.

A search showed the man was carrying several items in his sleeves and pockets removed from store shelves with a total estimated value of about $400, Myers said. They included a backpack, jewelry, watch, Co2 cartridges, water packages, bicycle brake pads, super glues and razors, Myers said.

Investigators also discovered the suspect was carrying four hypodermic needles and a controlled substance, he said.

Nathan A. Stevens, 31, of 729 Fourth St. was arrested on charges of theft, resisting law enforcement, battery on a police officer, possession of a Schedule IV substance, unlawful possession of a syringe and disorderly conduct.

While Stevens complained of head pain after the scuffle, he refused medical treatment at the scene. However, police took the suspect to be checked at Columbus Regional Hospital before transporting him to jail, Myers said.

After being booked into the Bartholomew County Jail at 7:38 p.m. Saturday, Stevens was placed on a 48-hour hold before he was released at 6:41 p.m. Monday on a bond set at on $10,000 surety or $1,000 cash, jail officials said.

Formal charges against Stevens, if any, will be determined by the office of Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash.

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