Crime & Courts

Man wanted for breaking into a church and assaulting someone at Walmart, police say

If you witness a crime, here’s what to do

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.
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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

Mell Johnson III has been arrested more than a dozen times, Richland County Sheriff’s Department said. Now, the department wants to arrest him again.

Johnson is accused of shoplifting, assault and burglary by the sheriff’s department.

On Feb. 2 the sheriff’s department alleges that Johnson went to Walmart on Two Notch Road in Northeast Columbia where an employee saw him removing a security tag off a 58-inch TV. He went for the door without paying, the employee told police.

A Walmart worker approached Johnson. When confronted, he hit another woman who was working at the time with a shopping cart, causing her to fall and land on her elbow, police said.

The next month Johnson was connected with another theft, according to a sheriff’s department statement.

On Mar. 8, Life Destiny Church on the 3600 block of Pine Belt Road was broken into around 6 p.m.. Police said it was Johnson who committed the crime and that he was “intent to steal from the church.”

“A violent second-degree burglarly,” sheriff’s department spokesperson Cynthia Roldán called the act against the church.

Johnson has cases pending against him for violence against property, forgery, shoplifting, kidnapping and assault, court records show. In 2001 he pleaded guilty to armed robbery, kidnapping and a violent assault for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to legal records.

The sheriff’s department said Johnson is considered very dangerous and are asking anyone who knows his whereabouts to call Crime Stoppers at 888-CRIME-SC.

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.


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