There are two videos inside this story. Click here to watch them both from the News 2 app.
RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Rutherford County store that was closed as part of Operation Candy Crush was broken into while it was padlocked.
Last Stop Market store clerk Jacklyn Ryder was working last Monday when four armed deputies came in to shut the store down for allegedly selling gummies and pills containing CBD.
“Talk about somebody’s heart dropping in their stomach,” Ryder recalled. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. I wasn’t prepared for it.”
Before deputies placed a padlock on the front door, Ryder said she asked if she could set the alarm first, and told News 2 she was told there was no need for that.
“Our store was left unalarmed for four days while we were closed down because of this,” Ryder said.
A no trespassing sign was placed on the door, which prevented owners from entering, but someone pried open the store’s back door and broke in.
Surveillance video shows the suspect going straight to the quarter machine up front and filling up a bag with change.
The video also shows the suspect making a stop by the cooler.
“This person that came in, they came in, they knew the store well,” Ryder said. “They got our quarter machine, it had about $600 to $700 in it, along with some beer.”
Ryder said there was major damage to the back door.
“They damaged our backdoor, which caused $2,000 to $3,000 to replace. You know, it was shut, they didn’t deadbolt it, they drove a nail through it to keep it closed,” Ryder said.
At a court hearing last week, charges were dropped against the store owner Michael Zakaria and his wife since no illegal drug was found in the CBD products they sold in their store.
“They gave all of his money back. They gave him his computer back, but they didn’t give us our product back,” Ryder said.
Even though the charges were dropped against the owners of the Lascassas store, it hit them hard in the pocket, and it has been a trickle-down effect.
There is now talk of a possible civil lawsuit.
“I feel not only him. I feel like every store that suffered should file a lawsuit because they have families too,” Ryder said. “I went four days, that’s about $400 out of my check that I don’t have because of some allegation that’s not true.”
The store owner did file an incident report with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.
News 2 reached out to see if the sheriff’s office shared any responsibility in the burglary since the alarm was allowed to be set, and the owners were not allowed to trespass on the property.
“The burglary is under active investigation, so we cannot make detailed comments,” said RCSO spokesperson Lisa Marchesoni. “Video surveillance shows the burglar inside the store wearing gloves and a hoodie.”
Anyone with information about the burglary can call Detective Jamie Humphreys at 615-904-3054.
Could charges be dropped against store owners?
News 2 has also learned from multiple sources that charges against the store owners who were arrested for allegedly selling gummies and pills containing an illegal substance could be dropped.
The announcement could come as soon as this week and store owner George Hannah could not be happier to get about the news.
He told News 2 he just wants to get his good name back.
“I really hopes this clears up because I want to clear my name,” Hannah said. “A lot of people are looking at us as criminals – drug dealers.”
Hannah had three of his businesses raided and padlocked as part of Operation Candy Crush.
He’s excited to hear the Rutherford County Distict Attorney’s office plans to dismiss all the charges.
“I guess I’m glad to hear. So I’ll be happier when it’s all said and done because I think right off the bat it was a big mistake, a big misunderstanding,” Hannah said.
“I feel like it should be dropped, you know, they made an assumption that it was, that it had illegal drugs in it when it didn’t, you know, they went about the situation wrong,” Ryder added.
Hannah told News 2 the raid is also affecting his family, and his employees as well, who didn’t get paid for five days, but it has also made an impact on state tax dollars with 23 businesses closed for five days.
“It did affect the tax revenue. We are going to report because these days that we were closed we didn’t generate any revenue for the state, so it does take definitely a domino effect on everybody,” Hannah said.
The majority of the store owners are Eyptian, and they say not only are their regular customers labeling them as drug dealers, they own community is turning on them as well.
News 2 has learned, a news conference announcing the charges being dismissed could happen as soon as Wednesday.