On Thursday, law enforcement received a call of an armed man inside a store, including claims that the suspect had a gun and that at least one person had been shot. When Sheriff Tommy Ford, Deputy Chief Joel Heape, and Maj. Jimmy Stanford arrived, they instead encountered a hammer-wielding assailant, changing the nature of the scenario.
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While the trio of law enforcement officers were armed as they arrived at the Rainbow Food Store, located in Panama City, Florida, preparing to make phone contact with the suspect. But the man exited the building holding the hammer as if it were a firearm, then quickly retreated inside.
Ford and Heape were wearing vests and carrying rifles, already prepared for what they thought was an armed gunman. All three law enforcement officials entered the building, preparing to confront the suspect.
Heape stated, according to a report by the Panama City News Herald, that the suspect “came toward me and takes a swing at me with the hammer and I blocked the swing and hit him with the butt of the gun and that knocked him back into a tray of lotion or something; it went everywhere.”
The man then retreated. Heape and Ford followed him down an aisle, with the sheriff attempting to “get him calmed down.”
“Then, he just suddenly went crazy again,” said Heape, “and he raised the hammer, Jimmy went on his bean attack.”
“I saw Jimmy poke his head out,” said Ford. “The next thing I know, he steps out with a can of Bush’s extra brown sugar baked beans and hits the suspect in the upper body and distracts him.”
“And then he does it again.”
Speaking about the decision to throw the canned beans, Stanford stated, “My thoughts were I could take these and hit him with them, and they’re not going to kill him, a less lethal alternative.”
“And it should get his attention diverted away from the sheriff and the chief, and they could apprehend him,” Stanford added.
While Stanford pelted the suspect with canned beans, Heape was able to approach the suspect, deflect a swing, and “lock his arm up.”
At that point, “it was a fight, we were wrestling,” said Ford.
Ultimately, the suspect, identified as 25-year-old Justin Tyler Stanford, was taken into custody. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon on an officer, resisting arrest with violence, leaving the scene of an accident with damage, and DUI.