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Police: Wanted felon arrested following struggle at Grants Pass Walmart

The incident began when Walmart employees found a backpack containing a handgun and several magazines of ammunition.

Posted: Aug 20, 2020 11:58 AM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Officers arrested a convicted felon wanted in Colorado after an unusual confrontation at the Walmart in Grants Pass on Wednesday, according to the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety.

The incident began when dispatch received a call from Walmart employees who said that they had found an abandoned bacpack containing a handgun, several magazines of ammunition, and silver coins. While officers were still en-route to the store, the employees called again to say that a man was in the store claiming to be the rightful owner of the backpack.

"The individual was described as agitated and yelling," GPDPS said. "When the description of the subject was provided, it was determined to be the same subject from a burglary that had been reported over the weekend. During the burglary, the suspect was seen with a firearm inside of the residence while committing the crime."

The agency said that it had identified the burglary suspect as 37-year-old Todd Alan Word, and officers were looking for him. Several coins had been stolen during the burglary.

Word had an active felony warrant for his arrest from the Colorado Department of Corrections for escaping from custody. GPDPS said that Word is a convicted felon with an "extensive" criminal history.

"Officers were aware of this as they responded to Walmart and several officers were requested due to the concern for the safety of the public based on Words criminal history and known possession of firearms," the agency said.

Word began running when officers arrived at the scene — weaving in and out of the store before officers tackled him in the parking lot. GPDPS said that he struggled with the officers and continued trying to get away.

At the same time, a vehicle seen at the previous burglary drove up to the officers as they were struggling to take Word into custody. A woman, later identified as Word's girlfriend, began stepping out of the vehicle.

"Officers challenged the female as she was getting out of the vehicle and advised her to not interfere with the arrest," GPDPS said. "It was not known at that time if the girlfriend was involved with the previous crimes and there was concern for the safety of the officers and the public as she approached while the officers were still trying to secure Word who was still actively fighting."

The officers eventually were able to place Word in handcuffs, detaining his girlfriend to question her about the burglary. Police also realized that there were two young children in the car. Word's girlfriend was eventually released pending further investigation.

Meanwhile, Word told officers that he was having medical issues "as a result of his flight and possible use of illegal narcotics," GPDPS said. He was taken via ambulance to Three Rivers Hospital where he was treated and released.

Word was eventually booked in the Josephine County Jail on multiple charges, including the Colorado warrant.

"Additional charges are anticipated with regards to possession of the firearm," GPDPS said. "This case is still active and detectives are following up with additional evidence. The backpack was recovered by officers on scene and the firearm was secured."

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