A normal burglary investigation — if there is such a thing — took an abnormal turn late Saturday night and early Sunday morning that triggered a S.W.A.T. response and the “lockdown” of a large apartment complex for a feared hostage situation.
Conway Police Department investigators had asked that the details of the incidents be kept quiet for a few days during the early stages of the investigation.
According to a series of CPD incident reports, the criminal episode started just after midnight early Sunday morning when police responding to a home invasion robbery were told by victims that a man wearing a black and grey hooded sweatshirt, maybe with “Nebraska” printed on it, walked up a set of stairs at the Rock Creek Apartments off Monroe Street with a gun and ordered two women and a man standing outside an apartment to go in and get on the floor.
The burglar stole phones from the three women in the apartment, and took a man’s phone, shoes and jeans.
When this man left, one of the victims got up and looked out the window, seeing the burglar in the black and gray sweatshirt running behind another man wearing a red hooded sweatshirt.
When two officers arrived, the victims also told them that there was reason to think that an early-90s Oldsmobile Cutlass, maroon in color, might be involved.
This information was shared with other officers, one of whom had stopped an older maroon Cutlass the night before. At around 2 a.m. on Sunday the officer who had stopped the Cutlass met with another officer. They decided that there was a good chance the Cutlass and whoever was driving it might be in the Hutto Street area based on what the driver had said during the stop. These two officers had good timing and a good hunch, because when they approached the area from different directions the Cutlass was leaving an apartment at the corner of Stout and Bowie Streets where another similar armed home invasion robbery had just taken place.
One of the officers saw a woman waving at him from the apartment’s yard, but he “didn’t pay a lot of attention to the female because I was watching the suspect vehicle,” according to this officer’s report.
These officers would later find out that the woman claimed to have been asleep in her apartment when someone started trying to kick in the door. Another man in the apartment barricaded the front and back doors with a couch and a clothes dryer, and the two retreated to the bedroom. According to this woman, she climbed out the bedroom window when the burglars started trying to kick open the bedroom door and said they were going to start shooting through it.
The woman ran to her landlord’s house, and then saw one man in a black hooded sweatshirt and another man in a red hooded sweatshirt run from the house and, she thought, leave in the maroon Cutlass. Her purse and wallet were missing from the apartment.
The Cutlass was pulled over and its driver, the sole occupant at that point, told the officer that he had been robbed that night by whoever was driving a black GMC pickup and a black Dodge Charger that had just left the area and were involved in the Stout Street burglary.
If the rest of this man’s story to officers is true, then he was along with whoever was driving the GMC and the Charger under duress, because in yet a third home invasion burglary, this one at the Links Apartments off Irby Drive, a burglar was holding this man's friends hostage in an apartment and had ordered him to go along on the burglary spree.
CPD dispatched its S.W.A.T. team, secured the apartment’s entryways, and set up a perimeter to observe the apartment in question. Soon, a man came out of the apartment and ran when he saw officers. He was caught and found with five cell phones on him. Several other cell phones, a pair of basketball shoes and two handguns were found nearby, apparently thrown away during the foot pursuit, according to the report.
Around this time, the rest of the people in the apartment, two men and a woman, had called police on a cell phone that hadn’t been stolen and said they wanted officers outside to know that they were all victims and would be coming out willingly.
According to one of the people inside the apartment, at around midnight three men with guns and covered faces came into the apartment and ordered everyone to the ground. The burglars, one of which was carrying what a victim described as a “Tec-9” submachine pistol, had the men take their jeans and shoes off, and one of the thieves was on the phone with someone describing the clothes and what size they were, as though the point of the home invasion was to steal jeans and basketball shoes. The burglars also took everyone’s cell phones and other clothes from the apartment.
Two of the burglars left, leaving a third as a “guard,” according to the people inside this apartment. But eventually this “guard” got a phone call and left. Police believe this is the man arrested after the foot pursuit.
He is identified in reports as Brian Keith Sample, 19, of Conway.
If this report seems confusing, it’s because the sequence of events early Sunday morning was confusing, and investigators are still sorting out everyone’s accounts of what was happening, according to on CPD investigator who'd rather not be named.
Chief of Police A.J. Gary said that he commended all of the officers involved for communicating with one another and figuring out, as best they could, what was happening in a hectic night and catching one suspect.
Anyone with relevant information is urged to call the Conway Police Department.