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ValuCard, Facebook lead to felony arrest of alleged jerky thief

Rain Smith • Aug 8, 2018 at 3:16 PM

KINGSPORT — With the help of Facebook and a Food City ValuCard, police have arrested a city man who allegedly displayed a gun to steal $7 in merchandise, then screamed, “Shoot me” to officers as he fled the scene last week.

The suspect was located and arrested at his home early Tuesday. Billy P. Bartley, 31, of Fernwood Drive, was already wanted for violation of probation but now faces multiple additional charges, including aggravated assault and felony evading arrest.

According to records at the Kingsport Police Department, on Aug. 1 officers were called to the Food City on Moreland Drive. According to a clerk, as a female scanned items in the self-checkout line, a man accompanying her placed Jack Links jerky and cigarette lighters into his pockets.

After being asked if he was going to pay for the merchandise, the suspect reportedly lifted up his shirt to display a black handgun in his waistband. When a manager was alerted to call police, the woman allegedly stated, “That’s probably not a good idea.”

The pair departed and police responded, locating them inside a Jeep in the parking lot. An officer approached the vehicle and found the alleged thief holding an uncapped syringe in the driver’s seat.

While screaming, “Shoot me,” the suspect reportedly turned and accelerated away, forcing the officer to take “evasive action” to avoid being struck. Another officer attempted to catch the Jeep on Moreland Drive but soon terminated the pursuit.

Investigators discovered that the woman who purchased items had scanned her ValuCard. A check of that name on Facebook found she had a friend, Bartley, who matched the description of the theft suspect. Employees then positively identified him as the man responsible, adding that he used to be employed by the store.

Warrants were obtained for Bartley’s arrest, and he was apprehended earlier this week. He faces two counts of aggravated assault, shoplifting, possession of drug paraphernalia and evading arrest.

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