By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — A few dozen young adults storm into a convenience store all at once, overwhelm the one clerk on duty and create a scene of chaos while they fill their pockets with candy, snacks, soft drinks and cigarettes.
That situation, sometimes referred to as a “flash rob,” is what a police officer happened upon at the Riverfront Drive Holiday Station convenience store early Sunday morning.
Officer Steven Hoppe was responding to a report of shots being fired at the nearby Kato Entertainment Center when he saw a large group — the clerk estimated 40 to 50 people — rushing into the store.
As the officer looked through the store’s window to assess the situation, a witness walked outside and told the officer he had confronted someone who was stealing cigarettes from behind the counter as the clerk was distracted. When the witness told the man he should pay for his cigarettes, the man responded by telling him, “shut the f*** up or I will knock you the f*** out,” according to criminal complaints filed against three men arrested during the “flash rob.”
When Hoppe went inside to confront the man, later identified as 20-year-old Davon Maurice Jones or Minneapolis, he attempted to escape out a side door and struggled with Hoppe. A stun gun was used to stop Jones. Hoppe also saw what he suspected was a handgun in Jones’ waist band as Jones attempted to escape.
Two other men were arrested as more officers arrived. They are Michael Cory Jones, 19, of Minneapolis and Arthur Lord Fields, 23, of St. Paul.
An event at the Kato Entertainment Center, called “Turn Down 4 What,” drew several hundred people to Mankato from the Twin Cities area. The 18 and older show was advertised through social media and buses were used to transport teens.
Police officers suspect those involved in the Holiday Station incident had attended the Kato Entertainment Center event. They did tests that showed Davon Jones’ gun, which was loaded, had not been fired. The report of shots being fired in a parking lot at the Kato Entertainment Center was made at about 2:05 a.m.
Although the scene in the Holiday Station store seemed chaotic, surveillance video showed it was likely planned.
The store clerk told Hoppe a large group of people was standing outside when one female walked into the store and asked the clerk if she was working alone. When the clerk said she was alone, the female walked outside and made a motion with her arms. A crowd of 40-50 people was in the store seconds later.
“Officer Hoppe, in reviewing the security footage, was able to see the commotion inside of the store and also noted that several displays were kicked over, items were knocked from the shelves and thrown around the store, there were bags of chips and cans of pop and energy drinks strewn about the store,” the complaint said.
Only Davon Jones faces felony charges for being a felon in possession of a firearm and making terroristic threats. He was released from prison in February after serving more than two years for burglarizing a Minneapolis residence while armed with a handgun.
Michael Jones and Fields are facing gross misdemeanor charges for obstruction of justice and rioting, and misdemeanor theft charges.