ROCKWALL – Several residents of the Lakeside Village subdivision say many residents there are extremely upset with the way that Rockwall Police handled the arrest of a Mesquite man and Rockwall woman early Saturday morning after the suspect allegedly stole an AR-15 assault rifle, a large amount of ammunition and a laptop computer out of a resident’s vehicle the night before, resulting in a fight between a resident and the suspect.
Now they are demanding answers and want to know why the Rockwall Police Chief ordered at least seven police officers to leave the scene during the investigation, even though the man with the rifle and ammunition was still at large, with the potential to cause harm to the subdivision residents.
They also want to know why Rockwall Police allowed and perhaps even encouraged the father of the young man whose rifle was allegedly stolen to go into the home where the suspect was to retrieve the stolen items, since that act led to a fight between the father and alleged thief.
Lakeside Village is the subdivision on the lake, north of Saltgrass Steakhouse, with the many red, Spanish-style roofs.
According to resident Alexandra Harvey, the residents were told by officers at the scene that the Chief ordered officers to leave with the “violent, wanted felon barricaded in a town home with a stolen assault rifle and a large amount of ammunition.”
“This gross mis-judgement by Chief Mark Moeller left the Lakeside Village Community to defend itself,” she wrote in an email to The Rockwall News.
Resident John Mitchell added that the community is in an uproar because a lieutenant at the scene told him and several other residents that he was on the phone with “the chief” throughout the investigation and that the chief ordered the officers to leave the subdivision even though the man who had been caught stealing a rifle and ammunition was still on the loose after he ran from the scene of the crime. He said it was also rumored that the man was a felon and member of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang.
Rockwall Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Aaron McGrew confirmed in an email Tuesday that police officers did spend several hours in the subdivision Friday night and early Saturday morning searching for and eventually arresting 21-year-old Cody Lee Welborn, charging him with Theft of a Firearm, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, Felony Theft (for the Laptop), Resisting Arrest and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
“He was also found to have an outstanding Parole Violation Warrant, which he was jailed on, as well,” wrote McGrew.
Residents and McGrew agreed the arrest was made in response to a 911 call made about 8:45 pm Friday night from a resident in the 4200 Block of Pompei Ct. after he witnessed someone burglarizing his truck and discovered his rifle and laptop were missing.
“The caller interrupted the burglary and the suspect ran from the location and into a nearby condominium,” wrote McGrew. “Officers at the location made several attempts to make contact with any individual in the condominium, but were unsuccessful.”
The address of the condo was 3932 Mediterranean St., which is the home of 20-year-old Regan Breanna Holder, who was also arrested with the man early Saturday morning.
But upset residents say there was much more to the story and claim police mishandled the situation badly.
“Around 9 pm Friday night, a man was caught stealing an AR-15 22 caliber assault rifle and apple lap out of a resident’s car,” wrote Harvey. “The resident chased the man into 3932 Mediterranean St. Rockwall PD responded and surrounded the town home. A SWAT team was also called to the location. Lights were observed going on and off in the town home, and the suspect’s girlfriend confirmed that he was inside. Rockwall PD surrounded the house til 2 am.”
“Rockwall PD Chief Mark Moeller, apparently deciding that it would be better to leave the community to defend itself, then ordered his officers and SWAT to leave the location,” she continued. “The Chief left the lakeside community to defend itself. All but the Rockwall PD Lieutenant and one officer stayed at the location.”
“Outraged,” Harvey added, “the resident whose son’s property was stolen was given consent to go inside 3932 (Mediterranean) with two of the three tenets to retrieve his son’s property. The resident made contact with the suspect and an altercation ensued. The Rockwall PD officer quickly made entry and took the suspect into custody.”
Harvey pointed out the Lieutenant allowed this unarmed man to enter the building where a violent armed felon was held up.
She said “If it were not for this brave enraged citizen, our community would have been left to defend itself against a violent felon armed with an assault rifle.”
Mitchell said that residents have complained to Rockwall Mayor David Sweet and the media and intend to learn why Chief Moeller ordered police officers to leave and why they allowed an unarmed subdivision resident to go inside the home where the suspect with the gun was, rather than doing so themselves.
Rockwall Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Jeff Welch told The Rockwall News yesterday that the “chief” who was on the phone with the lieutenant and possibly gave the order for officers to leave was more likely Assistant Police Chief Kurt Riggs rather than Chief Moeller.
“That would be standard protocol in situations like these,” he said.
Sgt. Welch promised he would try to get answers as soon as possible for upset Lakeside Village residents and would share them with The Rockwall News for a follow-up story.
By J.J. Smith