EAST LIVERPOOL - Two men arrested Tuesday night following an evacuation of the Calcutta Wal-Mart appeared Wednesday morning before Municipal Court Judge Melissa Byers Emmerling for video arraignments.
John S. Hester, 53, whose last listed address was Sixteen School Road, Irondale, appeared on a felony charge of inducing panic stemming from an incident at Wal-Mart Tuesday that resulted in the store being evacuated.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled April 18, with cash/surety bond set at $75,000 and a public defender appointed. Hester is homeless and has no employment or income, according to court records.
A pretrial was set the same day on a charge of complicity to theft, stemming from an incident at Wal-Mart several hours after the evacuation during which a television was stolen.
Brian S. Goodlin, 30, Vesta Street, Chester, was arraigned on a charge of petty theft in relation to that incident. He had pretrial set April 18 on the charge. Court records showed Goodlin also has no source of employment or income and a public defender was appointed.
Police allege that Hester is the person of interest seen on a Wal-Mart surveillance video in the area where a suspicious electronic contraption was discovered about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in the electronics department.
Its discovery resulted in local police and other emergency personnel as well as the Youngstown Bomb Squad being called to the store. The device was found not to contain any explosives by the bomb squad.
Other stores in the Summit Square Plaza were not evacuated during the incident, but Wal-Mart was closed for three hours. Officials declined to say how much the incident may have cost the company in lost revenue.
Hester and Goodlin were apprehended Tuesday night by St. Clair Township Police after Goodlin reportedly ran out of the store with a stolen 50-inch television set.
Police declined to identify Goodlin Tuesday night, but a police report included in the court docket said he admitted to stealing the television after he and Hester planned the theft. Goodlin is dating Hester's daughter, the report noted.
According to police, Hester waited in the car while Goodlin went into the store, took the television and walked toward the exit, where he was asked for a receipt. Goodlin handed the employee an old receipt and kept walking out of the store, followed by store employees, who had discovered the receipt was dated November.
As Goodlin approached the vehicle, Hester reportedly got out, picked up the TV, put it into the waiting Jeep and told Goodlin, "Let's (expletive) go," and they both got into the vehicle and went south on Dresden Avenue.
Police said while they drove, Goodlin called a woman he knows and asked if she wanted to purchase the television, and they took it to her home on Lisbon Street, where she paid $250 for the TV, valued at $508.
The woman later told police she gave the cash to Hester but denied knowing the television was stolen. Goodlin reportedly told her it was purchased with a gift card and he would bring her the receipt later.
Goodlin reportedly told police he and Hester also stole a television from the store a couple days prior.
Chief Don Hyatt has said Goodlin's arrest was not connected to the Wal-Mart evacuation.