An 18-year-old from Kensett accused in a mugging at the Sonic Drive-In on Race Avenue in February officially has been charged with multiple felonies and a misdemeanor.
A warrant was issued recently at the request of the 17th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for Michael Hunter Branch on charges of class Y felony aggravated robbery with accomplice; class D felony theft of property – firearm valued at less than $2,500 with accomplice; class D felony breaking and entering with accomplice; and class A misdemeanor battery in the third degree with accomplice.
He also is facing charges of class D felony breaking and entering and class D felony theft of property – firearm for a separate incident that occurred a few days earlier.
According to an affidavit written by Searcy Police Department Detective Laurel Sexton, the armed robbery at Sonic took place Feb. 1. Officer Aaron Smith arrived at the restaurant around 7:10 p.m. to talk to the alleged victim, who reportedly said “he met a friend at Sonic to buy a 12-gauge shotgun.”
The alleged victim reportedly said he paid the friend $350 and placed the shotgun in the back of his vehicle before a dark-colored vehicle with three black men in it pulled in and “parked in front of his car, blocking him in.”
The alleged victim recognized the driver as Branch and believed him to be armed because the others with him “had guns and told him, ‘Don’t move,’” Sexton wrote. The three men then reportedly struck the alleged victim “with closed fists” and one of them got into his vehicle and took the shotgun.
The alleged victim’s injuries, “a bruised and swollen area around his right eye,” were photographed, Sexton wrote.
Surveillance footage from the restaurant reportedly corroborated the alleged victim’s statement.
The other incident occurred Jan. 28 at Waffle House on Race Avenue after 11 a.m. Branch is accused of breaking into an unlocked vehicle and stealing a loaded .38-caliber pistol.
According to the affidavit written by Sexton, Branch was identified after surveillance footage showed a man in a hoodie speaking with an employee inside the building and getting into a dark-colored sport utility vehicle after leaving. The SUV then reportedly “drives to the south exit of the parking lot,” parking behind the alleged victim’s vehicle.
More surveillance footage showed Branch open the door of the alleged victim’s vehicle and take out an object from the driver’s side before leaving the parking lot in the SUV.
The alleged victim reportedly told Officer Jason Denison that the employee “knew about the gun in the truck.”
Branch was not in custody Friday afternoon in the White County Detention Center and no court date had been set.
A warrant also was issued for Dennis Ray Swan, 40, of Searcy on charges of class D felony breaking and entering; class A misdemeanor criminal mischief in the first degree; and class A misdemeanor theft of property less than $1,000.
Swan reportedly entered the Searcy Suds laundromat on East Moore Avenue on Jan. 30, damaged a vending machine and broke into a Pac-Man video arcade machine, stealing an “unknown amount of change.”
The owner of the business identified Swan because he had broken into his business in July 2020, according to the affidavit written by Sexton. Surveillance footage from the Jan. 30 incident reportedly showed Swan “attempting to break into all the change machines, washers and dryers,” but he was successful only in getting into the Pac-Man machine, using “something that looked like a set of keys to unlock the machine.”
Around 2:39 p.m., Officer John Aska saw a man who fit the description of Swan “walking west” on West Pleasure Avenue. He reportedly had “a set of lock-pick tools, $5.25 in quarters and a red face mask” on him.
Swan also was not in custody at the White County jail Friday afternoon and no court appearance had been set.
A class C felony first-degree criminal mischief charge also officially was filed against Shay Lee Armstrong, 28, of Searcy for reportedly causing more than $5,000 in damage to two vehicles at a residence on North Hickory Street.
According to the affidavit, Armstrong, who was known by the resident, came to his house last Sept. 2 and keyed the vehicles. Video footage reportedly showed her ringing the doorbell, stepping off the porch “with an object in her hand” and “running that object along the outside” of one of the vehicles.
A driver’s license photo reportedly matched Daniel to the footage.
She also was not in the White County jail Wednesday afternoon, but is set to appear in White County Circuit Court on Tuesday at 9 a.m. for plea and arraignment.