Crime

Man once accused in viral Macon Walmart stampede arrested after pool party goes awry

Video: Mob rampage at Macon Wal-Mart

Surveillance video from the Wal-Mart on Zebulon Road in Macon, GA, shows dozens of teens running inside and destroying merchandise.
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Surveillance video from the Wal-Mart on Zebulon Road in Macon, GA, shows dozens of teens running inside and destroying merchandise.

A Macon man who avoided prosecution in a 2015 stampede involving 80 young people at a local Walmart was jailed earlier this week after an apparent late-night ruckus at an apartment pool.

Vashaun Chandler Rozier, 22, was arrested late Monday on a criminal trespassing charge. He posted a $650 bond hours later and was released from the Bibb County jail.

When Rozier was 18 and bound for service in the Army, he was identified as the alleged ringleader of the commotion at a Zebulon Road Walmart in the wee morning hours of June 28, 2015, when more than 80 youths rushed into the store. A trail of damaged merchandise was left behind.

The stampede stirred debate over whether the youths should face criminal charges or if the escapade should be chalked up to teenage mischief.

Rozier was originally charged with rioting, criminal damage and taking part in street-gang activity, but the charges were later dropped. His military commitment appears to have weighed heavily in him not being prosecuted in the Walmart run-through, as Bibb District Attorney David Cooke dropped the charges, in part, so that Rozier could enter the service.

Cooke, in not pursuing charges against Rozier, termed the Walmart foray “a flash mob gone awry.” The crowd that flocked to the Walmart was thought to have come from a party that Rozier organized.

Surveillance video of the run-through went viral as the case generated public outcry from some, while some favored giving Rozier a second chance.

It isn’t known how long Rozier served in the Army or if he is still enlisted.

Pool party gone awry

Shortly before 11 p.m. Monday, some of the sheriff’s deputies who answered a call about a large crowd —about 50 or 75 people — near the pool at Legacy apartments at River Crossing on Wesleyan Drive — recognized Rozier.

A sheriff’s report obtained by The Telegraph summarized the scene there, noting that as sheriff’s deputies arrived several cars were pulling out. One deputy, according to the report, had just run the same group of people out of another complex not far away, the Grove at River Place on Sheraton Drive.

The reporting deputy wrote, “I was also notified that a person of interest, Mr. Vashaun Rozier, had been detained behind the Acura dealership on Sheraton Drive.”

Meanwhile at Legacy apartments, someone informed a deputy that the pool crowd had gathered after “a flyer for a party ... had been passed around on Facebook. The flyer had been shared multiple times,” the sheriff’s report stated.

Two years ago, Rozier was also named as the “host” of a pool party at another apartment complex at Wesleyan Drive, but the Telegraph found no record of Rozier being charged in that incident.

In Monday’s incident, Legacy apartment manager Jessica Abney told a sheriff’s deputy she was “very familiar with Rozier, as she was able to follow his social media accounts which revealed information on the scale of the party,” the report said. “Tonight, she did see ... Snapchat videos of Rozier and the several other persons in the pool at Legacy. ... The videos, as well as Facebook posts were deleted not long after his subsequent arrest and release.”

Abney told the deputies she wanted to bring charges against Rozier for trespassing. It wasn’t clear if he lives there. Jail records list his address as Knoxville Road in Lizella.

The deputy also mentioned that Rozier, after getting out of jail Tuesday, posted on Facebook and referred to the situation as “weak.”

The report added that a fence at Legacy apartments was damaged when those who gathered there tried to get in the gate. It was also noted there were “empty bottles of alcohol beverages on the property.”

The deputy concluded, noting: “If this reporting Deputy had the full resources of the Sheriff’s Department, more charges would have followed, and more still may. The case is closed by arrest, but may reopen for further charges.”

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.

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