Assault and theft charges await in Oak Harbor Walmart case
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
April 27, 2012 · Updated 2:36 PM
A homeless man is facing assault and theft charges after he allegedly attacked a security guard at Walmart in Oak Harbor. That attack was thwarted by an armed retired sheriff’s deputy.
Prosecutors charged Addison Cody Vernon April 17 with assault in the second degree and theft in the third degree.
The charges stem from an incident that took place the afternoon of April 12, when Vernon reportedly entered Walmart with an empty backpack and filled it full of clothing. After the backpack was full, he grabbed several more clothing items and a half liter of wine, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Vernon allegedly left the store without paying for the items and a store security employee escorted him back into the store. Once inside the store, the affidavit states Vernon, who was still carrying the wine bottle, tried to break away from the employee. They struggled and, when they fell to the floor, the wine bottle broke.
The affidavit states Vernon grabbed the broken bottle and tried to stab the security guard’s face. The guard protected himself by grabbing Vernon’s hands. Eventually Vernon managed to pull a knife from a sheath as the two continued to struggle.
The security guard continued to control Vernon’s hands until the two made it back to their feet. Once standing, the guard pushed Vernon away. The homeless man was still being confrontational and holding his knife.
At that time, retired Island County Deputy Sheriff Wayne Lewis, who had witnessed the incident, entered the foyer and the guard told him Vernon still had a knife. The affidavit states Lewis pulled his hand gun when he learned of the knife.
Lewis said that Vernon’s eyes got very big when he saw the gun, then he put his knife away and ran toward the east exit door.
The guard was phoning 911 when Vernon returned and demanded his backpack. Lewis, who by then had his gun holstered, was standing next to the guard and identified himself as a retired deputy, according to the affidavit. Vernon quickly headed west.
Officers eventually arrested Vernon. They recovered a knife with a 4-inch blade and a small amount of marijuana along with approximately $179 worth of merchandise. They also found a summons to appear on burglary charges in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. There wasn’t a warrant yet concerning his failure to appear.
In an interview with officers, they learned Vernon moved to Washington two months ago, but was homeless and lacked employment, according to the affidavit. Officers also found a “shopping list” of items. He admitted to stealing items in the past to make money.
He remains in the Island County Jail on $50,000 bail.
If convicted of the charges, he could face up to a year in jail under the standard sentencing range.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.