A man was apprehended Wednesday, Feb. 19 after allegedly pulling a knife on a bus driver and a store clerk.
Edward Lee Wessinger Jr., 42, of Arnoldsville, was taken into custody and charged with three counts of aggravated assault, armed robbery, criminal trespass and false imprisonment.
Around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Deputy Derek Shelton, Deputy Joe McGuffin and other officers were dispatched to Ingles regarding a white male (Wessinger) wearing gray pants and jacket with no shoes on who was threatening and brandishing a knife at an Athens Transit bus driver at the bus stop in the Ingles parking lot.
While in route, Shelton was informed that Wessinger was seen running down Hwy. 29 South toward the Athens-Clarke County line. While in the area looking for him, dispatch received a 911 call from the Apex convenience store on Old Danielsville Road, across from Ingles. The store clerk stated that they had just had an armed robbery and described the robber as someone matching Wessinger’s description.
Deputy McGuffin spoke with the bus driver, who stated that she parked the transit bus in the parking lot of Ingles and went inside to use the restroom. She said that when she returned to the bus, she saw a white male with a gray sweatshirt and gray sweatpants and no shoes standing at the bus door. She told him that he could not ride the bus without shoes.
She said as she got on the bus, he followed her on board and pulled a “razor knife.” She stated that he sat down and told her “you better drive the d#$% bus.” She stated that she panicked and ran off the bus. She said she called 911 and looked back to see the male getting behind the wheel of the bus (as if to drive off), but it appeared to her that he did not know how to operate the bus or release the brakes. He got off the bus and started walking fast towards First Citizens Bank.
An Ingles manager told McGuffin that Wessinger was walking around the store before that and had frightened some of the deli workers. The manager also said Wessinger had some clothing and an open can of beer outside in front of the store and he believed he had shoplifted the items. The manager said he had told the man to leave the store and escorted him out.
Meanwhile, Shelton met with the Apex store clerk, who was shaking and upset and she told him that the man came into the store barefoot, grabbed a pair of shoes and a pack of socks and then walked around to the deli area and sat down. After that, he fixed himself a cup of coffee and stood near the cash register near the entrance.
After several customers left, Wessinger reportedly came behind the counter and pulled a box knife on her and told her to open the register. She opened the cash drawer and then jumped over the counter yelling to a coworker for help. A customer in the store also heard her and grabbed a yellow floor sign in an attempt to keep Wessinger from hurting her as he left the store. The clerk said he left with a stack of cash that was paper-clipped in the amount of $990. The customer chased the man around the store and store video later showed him brandishing the knife at the customer as well.
The co-worker said she was working in the kitchen and had a Ruger pistol with her. She said she told Wessinger she had a gun. She also told Shelton that Wessinger appeared to be the same man who had been in the store the night before and had stayed inside the store for about an hour, which she thought was strange.
Wessinger dropped a cell phone and the cash as he ran from the store. The phone was unlocked so Shelton was able to view a picture of him and he showed it to the victim and witnesses, who confirmed Wessinger was the robber. Store video also confirmed the witnesses’ stories.
After a brief search involving Madison, Athens-Clarke and Georgia State Patrol officers, the suspect was located and arrested at another convenience store just inside of Athens-Clarke County, according to a post on the sheriff’s office Facebook page.