Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Robbery Turned Mail Heist That Triggered a Manhunt at North Star Mall

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge Lesson: Don't fuck with the U.S. Postal Service - CHEWK VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Chewk via Flickr creative commons
  • Lesson: Don't fuck with the U.S. Postal Service
A robbery and impromptu mail heist, followed by two gun battles and a series of high speed chases, led to the manhunt that briefly shut down parts of North Star Mall on Tuesday, according to federal court records.

On Wednesday, police arrested Bradley J. A’Hearn, 22, Sara Richford, 26, and Piper Allan Lee, 40, claiming they're the suspects behind a four-day trail of car chases and shootings that followed the attack on a U.S. Mail carrier in the Texas Hill Country this past weekend.

Court records filed on Wednesday allege A'Hearn approached the mail carrier Saturday morning while she was on her route in Spring Branch, demanding she turn over her cell phone. When she refused, he shot her in the leg and stole her truck, which she used to deliver the mail — meaning he also stole, according to records, "a considerable amount of U.S. Mail." According to records, A'Hearn later explained that he "shot the bitch because she wouldn't give me her phone." (The mail carrier was treated at a hospital for non-life threatening injuries.)

Apparently lying low for a bit didn't cross A'Hearn's mind. Two days later, a U.S. Postal Inspection Service agent spotted him traveling in the stolen truck about a half-mile away from where he'd robbed the postal worker. When the agent tried to stop the truck, it fled. Court records say A'Hearn fired at the officers who chased but couldn't catch him (it's unclear if police returned fire).

The next day, Valentine's day, employees at a San Antonio motel (court records say somewhere near 281) called police about some odd guests who had "a large amount of U.S. Mail and a handgun" in their room. According to court records, the motel staff turned over to police a large bag of trash the suspects had left outside their room — it was a bunch of opened, rifled through mail. Court records also indicate there was plenty of personal identifying information in that mail, "specifically a large number of W-2 tax forms."

Meanwhile, investigators found the wounded mail carrier's stolen truck abandoned not far away. They also learned A'Hearn and the other suspects were now riding in a different car — a yellow Volkswagen bearing the license plate "DOPEST."

So federal agents followed "DOPEST" and then eventually asked San Antonio Police Department officers to make a traffic stop near Broadway and Loop 410, but when they attempted a stop, someone inside the car started shooting at officers. According to the Express-News, bullets hit a nearby Jim's Restaurant, a tire shop and a U-Haul. That's when "DOPEST" took off for North Star Mall, hiding in a parking garage to avoid the helicopters swarming overhead.

Despite local, state and federal law enforcement that flooded the area on Tuesday, the suspects escaped. Lucky enough for investigators, on Wednesday, someone only identified in court records as a "confidential source" contacted police saying one of the suspects, Sara Richford, had called her on Valentine's Day asking for a ride. When the source picked her up, Richford was with two men, one of whom had a gun. All three were bragging about the chase — the shooting at Jim's, running away from police at North Star Mall, racing the wrong way down a one way street.

The suspects asked the source to take them to a downtown hotel, where she got a room for them and left. SAPD Chief William McManus later told reporters an SAPD SWAT team arrested all three suspects without incident Wednesday at the Sunset Inn Motel off Roosevelt and Steves.

When asked about what led up to the manhunt at North Star, McManus called it "a relatively complicated saga."

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