Suspect charged in two pharmacy break-ins
A Russellville man was arrested Monday morning after being accused of breaking into two local pharmacies and injuring an officer during his arrest, officials said.
Matthew Justin O’Neal, 28, 12149 Franklin 187, Russellville, was arrested on two counts of third-degree burglary, two counts of attempt to commit a controlled substance crime, two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, two counts of second-degree theft of property, one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and one count of second-degree assault.
According to Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett, officers were alerted the glass breakage alarm had gone off at Hometown Pharmacy on Gandy Street in Russellville at 6:10 a.m. Monday.
Hargett said when officers arrived on the scene, they discovered the drive-thru window had been shattered and there was evidence outside to lead officers to believe the person responsible had gained entry to the pharmacy and stolen several items.
“At this time, officers began to search the area with the help of the department’s K-9 unit,” Hargett said.
“Officers believed they heard someone inside the old National Guard armory building but after a thorough search, no one was found.”
Hargett said about 30 minutes later, Off. Joseph Franks was patrolling the area near Franklin Pharmacy to check for a repeat offense when he heard the audible alarm from the road.
“As Off. Franks was going to investigate, he saw a white male subject coming out of the window at the pharmacy,” Hargett said.
“Off. Franks initiated a pursuit of the subject on foot through a wooded area behind the pharmacy and during the chase, Off. Franks witnessed the subject throwing several bottles of medication he had taken from the pharmacy.”
Hargett said Franks was able to take the subject, identified as O’Neal, into custody.
Hargett said Franks was injured during the arrest, which is where the assault charge stemmed from.
O’Neal also allegedly had one bottle of medication in his possession when he was finally apprehended near the car he had parked in the wooded area behind the pharmacy.
Police investigator Lt. Scotty Lowery said officers recovered the discarded medication in the wooded area along with other stolen goods taken from the break-in at Hometown Pharmacy.
“I just want to commend the night shift and day shift officers for their attention to detail and the fine job they did in taking the subject into custody,” Hargett said.
“This person had already committed two break-ins and their quick work allowed us to take this person off the street and prevent any further break-ins that might have occurred.”
O’Neal was released from prison in December where he was serving time for a previous theft and burglary case.
He is currently in custody at the Franklin County Jail on a $50,000 bond but is being held for a parole violation in that previous case.