Man caught stealing alcohol too drunk for jail; second suspect in unrelated case too drunk to be jailed on warrant

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Two suspects in two unrelated cases were released instead of being jailed due to their level of intoxication, Sunday. 

The first instance was in regard to alleged shoplifting of three bottles of liquor from Walmart at 755 S. 20th Ave. 

An officer was dispatched to the store at about 8:26 a.m. and was informed that an employee attempted to stop a suspect from shoplifting the bottles but the suspect walked away and left in a red van driven by a female subject. 

A few minutes after entering the vehicle’s information into the police database, a Thatcher officer spotted the van and initiated a traffic stop on 14th Avenue just north of U.S. Highway 70. 

The Safford officer then responded to the stop and identified the passenger, Richard Gross, as matching the description of the alleged shoplifter.

Gross admitted to being at the store but said he didn’t shoplift anything, according to the report. However, the officer then had Gross retrieve his backpack and the three bottles of alcohol were located. 

Gross was placed under arrest for shoplifting and was given a breath/alcohol test. The officer noted that Gross’ alcohol level was too high for the jail to accept, so he was instead given a citation for shoplifting and was informed he was now trespassed from the store. Gross was then released and the officer returned the bottles – worth $72.99 – to Walmart.

Man with warrant refused to be accepted at jail

Also on Sunday, officers were dispatched at about 10:18 a.m. to the Chase Bank at 321 W. Main St. regarding a report of two men arguing. 

Upon arrival, an officer located one man – Sonny Jones – who had an active misdemeanor warrant for his arrest. 

Jones appeared intoxicated and his breath/alcohol concentration registered a .275 on a portable breath test. 

Jones was transported to the Graham County Adult Detention Facility, where another portable breath test placed his breath/alcohol concentration at .368. He was then refused to be accepted at the jail due to his level of alcohol intoxication. 

Instead, Jones was transported to the San Carlos Apache Reservation at his request and was released at the Bylas convenience store. County Dispatch advised Jones’ warrant would still be valid.