Updated 11:00 p.m., Aug. 31: Johnathan Ballenger, of Stockbridge, has been positively identified as the man who rushed out of stolen car, bolted into a CVS pharmacy and eventually hid in the freezer of an Ingles grocery store to evade capture.
He has been charged with four felony counts: theft by receiving stolen property, second-degree criminal damage to property, a drug-related charge and a parole violation; and one misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended or revoked license, according to Gwinnett County jail records. He remains in jail.
Updated 12:40 p.m., Aug. 31: Cpl. Jake Smith reported that police do know the suspect's name now, and that he will be booked into the Gwinnett County Detention Center soon. They are unsure of the spelling of the name, so Patch is not releasing it until that is confirmed. However, the other three people initially detained along with the suspect have now been released and will not face any charges, Smith said.
One man is in custody following what initially was called into police as a robbery at the Rockbridge Road CVS in unincorporated Lilburn.
The suspect, whose identity is not clear yet, was driving in a light-blue Mercedes in the area of the CVS pharmacy, when he noticed that a police car was trailing him, said Cpl. Jake Smith, of the Gwinnett County Police Department.
Specially mounted cameras on the patrol car alerted police that the car was stolen out of Florida, he added.
Although the officer tried to stay far enough behind him, the man was "spooked" by the patrol car, and pulled into the parking lot of the pharmacy, Smith said.
That's when the man bolted for the front door of the pharmacy and attempted to escape through the back of the store. CVS employees, believing they were being robbed, called 911.
"He was essentially trying to escape through the back," Smith said at the scene. "Well, the back door wasn't open, so he tried to go through the ceiling."
When that didn't work he made his way over into the adjacent Ingles. By that time, police had caught up to him and raced inside, as well.
As shoppers were going one way, police were going the other way, he added.
"They didn't think he got out the back, but they couldn't say for sure," Smith said. "So, there were officers in the woods. They had the helicopter, and they also had a good perimeter around the building."
In addition, there was a K-9 unit dispatched for the search. And, in the back of the grocery store, inside a corner freezer unit, the suspect was sniffed out.
"He was in there shivering, and the dog bit him," Smith said.
The man was taken into custody, and police expect to make a positive identification of who exactly he is. Three other people who were passengers in the stolen car were also detained.
Patch will update this story as it develops.