Decatur robbery suspect arrested
By Holly Hollman
ATHENS — A Tennessee man told an Athens investigator that he was “just driving around” in his maroon van when he decided to rob a grocery store in Athens.
While police were approaching him, the man popped pills and had to go to the hospital before his trip to jail.
The robbery occurred at 8:11 a.m. Monday at Hometown Grocery on South Jefferson Street, Capt. Marty Bruce said.
Barry Eugene Wiggins, 54, of 1834 Maple Ash Ave., Columbia, asked a clerk for change for a dollar, Bruce said. The clerk gave him the change and started to walk off, but Wiggins asked the clerk to give him change for another dollar.
Bruce said the clerk refused, and Wiggins allegedly handed her a note on plain white paper that said:
“This is a armed robbery give me all of the money in the drawer I have a gun.”
The wording and punctuation are exactly the way police said he wrote the note.
Wiggins did not show her a gun, but she gave him an undisclosed amount of money, Bruce said.
Police began searching for his maroon van. Officer Michael Cash was returning to Athens from Decatur when he saw the van heading south on U.S. 31 near Calhoun Community College.
Bruce said Cash followed the van into Decatur and with the assistance of Decatur police, pulled Wiggins over on Wilson Street.
Officers found the cash from Hometown Grocery under a tear in the upholstery of the passenger’s seat, Bruce said. There was no gun, Bruce said.
The police brought the Hometown clerk to Decatur, and she identified Wiggins as the man who robbed her, Bruce said.
While Cash drove Wiggins to Athens, Wiggins informed the officer that he had taken some generic Xanax while Cash was following him, Bruce said.
Athens-Limestone Hospital treated Wiggins, and police transferred him to the Limestone County Jail on charges of first-degree robbery and using a false identity to obstruct justice. Wiggins allegedly used his brother’s name when Cash stopped him, Bruce said.
His bond was not set Monday evening.
Lt. Floyd Johnson said Wiggins confessed. Johnson said Wiggins did not say why he wanted the money.
“He said he didn’t have relatives in the area and that he was just driving around,” Johnson said.
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