Suspected child abduction at Walmart turned out to be shoplifting

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: A suspected child abduction ended up being a shoplifting attempt with one of the alleged culprits being wanted on other charges.

Man who was arrested less than three weeks ago for DUI-drug caught driving on a suspended license

By Jon Johnson

jonjohnsonnews@gmail.com

SAFFORD – An officer believed he might have observed a child abduction at Walmart on Saturday, Oct. 19, but it just turned out to be a major shoplifting violation.

According to a Safford Police report, an officer was on patrol at about 4 p.m. when he noticed a Hispanic man carrying a young girl under his arm while running from the Walmart store at 755 S. 20th Ave. to an awaiting silver sedan.

Believing the child may have been abducted, the officer followed the vehicle as it accelerated through the parking lot. When the sedan failed to signal for a turn while merging onto northbound 20th Avenue, the officer initiated a traffic stop and the vehicle pulled over in the Walgreens parking lot at the intersection with U.S. Highway 70.

Upon contact, the officer identified the driver as Clayton Scott Harrington, 30, of Duncan. Harrington had been recently pulled over Oct. 7 and arrested for aggravated DUI when he was caught driving while believed to be under the effects of heroin with a suspended driver’s license. DUI-drug charges in that case are still pending lab test results and review by prosecutors.

Harrington, who also had an active warrant for his arrest for failure to appear in court for failure to appear on a driving on a suspended license charge and moving violations, had blood all over his arms and pants. He later advised that he had intentionally cut his arm earlier in the day in an attempt to harm himself. The officer later removed a black bandanna from Harrington’s arm and observed a 4-inch laceration that was about 1-inch deep.

Also in the car was Harrington’s girlfriend as the front seat passenger, the woman’s ex-boyfriend in the rear passenger seat (the Hispanic man the officer noticed previously), and the young female, who is one of two children the woman and rear-seat passenger have in common.

Also located in the car was $580.75 worth of merchandise stolen from Walmart, according to the report.

Due to his injury, an ambulance was called for Harrington and he was transported to the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center (MGRMC) for treatment. After no other contraband was found in the vehicle, the other passengers were released with shoplifting charges pending review by the Graham County Attorney’s Office.

An officer was later called to MGRMC concerning Harrington after he went missing. According to the report, Harrington had asked to smoke a cigarette and was allowed to go outside. He then left the facility.

A search of the immediate area was conducted, but Harrington was not found.

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