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Store worker run over in Brandon Walmart theft attempt

BRANDON — Deputies are searching for a Lakeland man accused of running over a Brandon Walmart employee after attempting to steal from the store.

On Friday afternoon, deputies say Eunessa Lawson, 32, and Algernon West, 26, entered the Walmart on Causeway Boulevard and tried to buy an $898 laptop with checks stolen in a recent Lakeland burglary. When store clerks asked the pair for identification, they started to make a scene, and security officer James R. Powell, 27, and employee Kimberly Price, 38, walked them to the front of the store.

When employees repeated their request for identification, West ran out the door, deputies said. Price ran after him to get his car's tag number.

A surveillance video shows a man — West, deputies said — sprinting through the parking lot as he searches for his vehicle. He climbs into the truck and backs up as Price stands to the side and seems to be writing something. The truck shifts into drive and accelerates toward Price, running her over before it drives away. Several people nearby run to Price.

Price's lower torso was run over by both of the truck's right tires, deputies said. She was taken to Tampa General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries and was released Monday, Sgt. Bobby King said.

He said West intentionally ran over Price.

"He had a choice to go left … .He had a choice to stop," King said. "He didn't choose any of those … . It was a very vicious attack."

Inside the store, Lawson struck Powell, but he was able to keep her inside, and deputies arrested her. She has not been cooperative with the investigation, King said.

Deputies have impounded the truck, which they found in Lakeland, and issued a warrant for West's arrest. The two face charges of uttering a forged instrument, resisting arrest, obstructing an officer and giving a false name to an officer, in addition to violation of probation in Polk County.

West also was charged with attempted first-degree murder.

Both Lawson and West have previous convictions, several of them for using counterfeited or fraudulent methods of payment. West has served three stints in state prison since 2003, and Lawson was on felony probation.

Deputies are asking for the public's help in finding West. They ask that anyone with information call detectives at (813) 247-8200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477.

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

The video: To view a video of the suspect running over the Walmart employee, go to tampabay.com/video.

Store worker run over in Brandon Walmart theft attempt 12/07/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 7, 2009 11:02pm]
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