The alleged attackers at a Shawnee Wal-Mart earlier this month waited in a maroon van in the parking lot for more than an hour and 20 minutes while their victim was inside shopping with her 8-month-old child.
Then when the mother returned to her car, which was parked next to the van, two men emerged from the van. The woman was attacked, struck in the head five to eight times before she was able to get away.
Screaming for help, she then returned to the car to get her child before running back to the store while bleeding profusely.
Those details and the further chaos that ensued are outlined in a court affidavit filed by the district attorney’s office against Arthur Fred Wyatt III, one of the men who was allegedly in the maroon van that Sunday afternoon.
Never miss a local story.
The affidavit relies upon witness accounts as well as surveillance video from the Wal-Mart parking lot.
One of the men in the van, John Wesley Simmons III, was shot and killed by a good Samaritan who was in the parking lot at the time. But that was not before Simmons shot and critically wounded another good Samaritan, Joshua James Owen, who was not armed but who intervened in the attack on the woman.
Police found Simmons dead and Owen wounded in the parking lot when they were called to the scene at 1:37 p.m. Sept. 11.
Based on the video, prosecutors say there was an encounter between the woman, identified only as M.D.J., and a man, and then “multiple people suddenly converge on the two vehicles.” At some point, a second man is seen getting out of the passenger side of the van.
The woman later told authorities she was attacked from behind by at least two people. She said they initially pushed her toward her car’s open door and then began pulling her left arm away from the vehicle. That is when she broke free and ran.
According to the affidavit, Simmons was then seen getting back into the maroon van on the driver’s side and closing the door. Owen approached the driver’s side door, and Simmons got out on the passenger side. Owen then ran around the van and tackled Simmons to the ground. The two men rolled and fought in the parking and when they separated, “Simmons raises his hand and appears to be firing a weapon at Owen.”
Owen was struck by three bullets, in the wrist, chest and face. Part of his nose was shot off, and the left side of his face was damaged. A GoFundMe page for Owen had raised more than $140,000 for his medical bills as of Thursday afternoon.
The second good Samaritan, whose name was redacted in the affidavit, “then comes toward the area, draws a weapon and fires at Simmons,” the affidavit said. “Simmons was struck multiple times and died at the scene.”
The second man from the van was seen running east in the direction of a Target store. An employee of that store called police, saying a man in the store appeared jittery and was talking on a cellphone in a “low, shaky hyper voice.” The man was seen on Target surveillance video being picked up by someone in a dark-colored passenger vehicle.
Speaking with Simmons’ family, police learned he had spent time that morning with an acquaintance named Art, whose Facebook profile identified him as Art Tha Topp Hatt. Photos on the page fit witness descriptions of the second man in the van at Wal-Mart. Information from Facebook led to Wyatt in a police database, the affidavit said.
A witness, whose name also was redacted in the affidavit, told police Simmons and Wyatt had dropped her off at church that morning in a maroon van. The clothing she said Wyatt was wearing matched the Target video, and she positively identified the man in the video as Wyatt.
Wyatt’s father, Arthur Fred Wyatt Jr., later told police he picked his son up at the Target store and he appeared to be nervous. Wyatt Jr. said his son told him he and Simmons had been at Wal-Mart, and he had fled when there was an altercation between Simmons and a woman.
But another man who had been in the Wal-Mart parking lot and had tried to help the woman being attacked gave police descriptions of the two men. The larger one, matching Simmons, pointed a gun at him, the man said. The other one, matching Wyatt, was striking the woman over the head with a gun.
The woman’s wounds required 26 staples to close.
Wyatt is charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted aggravated kidnapping and attempted aggravated robbery.