Rifle shoplifting escalates to armed robbery arrests
A petty shoplifting accusation at Rifle’s Wal-Mart escalated into potential armed robbery charges and four arrests Saturday night when a pair of convicted felons allegedly threatened to shoot a security worker who confronted them.
According to their joint arrest affidavit, the incident began when Bret Smith, 29, attempted to walk out without paying for a $12.88 headlight.
In a written statement included in the affidavit, an “asset protection associate” described intercepting the pair in the parking lot. Smith became combative, he wrote, and was quickly joined by Christopher Brown, 31.
The situation reportedly escalated and Smith told Brown to “go grab his pistol out of the truck,” according to the victim’s statement. The two then told the associate they would shoot him if he tried to call the police, and according to his statement, threatened him with guns. Told to leave the property, the pair dropped the headlight and left in their Ford F-150 — which was missing a headlamp.
Rifle police, after reviewing the Wal-Mart surveillance video, caught up with the truck an hour later.
In the vehicle, officers found a two loaded handguns, several knives including an illegal butterfly knife, a syringe loaded with methamphetamine, and 12.1 grams of marijuana.
Additional items found included gloves and a pair of neoprene masks, which led officers to believe that those items would be “used in the commission of a burglary or other violent act.”
Two other occupants of the truck, Tenee Kay Labor, 29, and Saralynn Kingsbury, 31, were charged with complicity and felony possession of burglary tools. Both appeared in an advisement hearing Monday afternoon before Magistrate Holly Strablizky, as did both Smith and Brown.
Smith was charged with aggravated robbery, possession of weapons by a previous offender and possession of burglary tools, all felonies.
Brown, whom the affidavit said had gotten out of prison in February after five years, was charged with aggravated robbery, possession of weapons by a previous offender, possession of a dangerous weapon, possession of burglary tools and possession of a controlled substance, all felonies. He also violated a restraining order, a misdemeanor.
Deputy District Attorney Matthew Barrett said in court Monday that Brown “was one of the most aggravated individuals this court will likely see.”
Brown has arrests going back to 2003 for arson, escape, vehicle theft and felony burglary, according to a background check with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Smith has past arrests for aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation.
After Barrett cited the criminal history of Brown and the facts of the current case, Smith interjected and said Barrett had it all wrong.
“You almost got yourself thrown out of court,” Strablizky said to Smith.
Barrett noted Smith’s ties to prison gangs and how Smith’s last 17 years have mostly been in custody.
Once Strablizky and Barrett had discussed Smith’s bond, both men were agitated again, with Smith yelling at Barrett to “get his facts straight.”
That’s when the bailiffs led the defendants out of the courtroom to expletives.
Barrett suggested a bond for both men of $100,000. Strablizky set Brown’s bond at $46,000 and Smith’s at $35,000.
Both men also had to sign an order not to go within 100 yards of the Rifle Wal-Mart.
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The family of Rosie Ferrin has worked to clean up and make safe again the old schoolhouse in downtown New Castle. Ferrin died this summer and had owned the building that included classrooms turned into apartments for years.