Man gets into skirmish after trying to steal Red Bull

Girlfriend also charged with theft and arrested at the scene

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published September 26, 2012

HAZEL PARK — Store security detained a man after he and his girlfriend attempted to steal caseloads of canned energy drinks. Police then caught the girlfriend after she feigned non-involvement and tried to walk away from the scene.

George Firman, 30, of Plymouth, and his girlfriend Ashley Watkins, 22, of Dearborn, were arraigned before Magistrate James Paterson in Hazel Park 43rd District Court on Wednesday, Sept. 12.

They are each charged with one count of unarmed robbery, a felony offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Watkins is charged with an additional count of possessing a controlled substance, a felony offense punishable by up to four years.

They each are being held on a $50,000 cash or surety bond.

The incident occurred at the Kroger in the 23000 block of John R around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11. Police had been alerted to the fact that Firman was attempting to leave the store with nearly $140 in stolen Red Bull energy drinks.

“He had passed all points of purchase at that time and was attempting to make his way out of the store when he was confronted,” said Hazel Park Police Chief Martin Barner. “He came at one of the loss prevention officers with his arms raised in an aggressive fighting manner, at which time the loss prevention officers physically tried to contain him. He started yelling he had a knife and was going to cut them up.”

At some point, Watkins is said to have sped toward the confrontation in a 2002 Pontiac. When she got close to the fight, her boyfriend yelled to her to park some distance away and retrieve a taped metal pipe for him. The girlfriend did as she was told, but then seemed to think better of joining the fight.

“She parked the vehicle in a discreet location and attempted to walk away,” Barner said. “It appeared initially she had approached the scene to assist, or if (Firman) broke away, he’d hop in the car and they’d take off. But it was apparent he would not be able to break free, so she thought she would conceal her involvement by parking in the area and then attempting to walk away from the scene.”

Police stopped Watkins and arrested her. They found a pipe in the car. By the time police got to Firman, the loss prevention officers had already detained him. He was turned over without resistance. No knife was found on his person.

While processing the two suspects at the Hazel Park Police Department, officers also allegedly found a small amount of heroin in Watkins’ purse.