A man suspected of making threats against his ex-girlfriend that led to the evacuation of the Walmart in Lebanon last week was arraigned in Linn County Circuit Court on Monday afternoon.
Samuel Frank Ayers, 19, of Albany, was charged with coercion with a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon with a firearm, menacing, unlawful dissemination of an intimate image, harassment and second-degree disorderly conduct. Three of those crimes were labeled as domestic violence.
Prosecutor Michael Wynhausen said Ayers made threats to kill his ex-girlfriend and to kill law enforcement officers if police intervened.
After being contacted by police, “He made some admissions but denied having a firearm,” Wynhausen said.
Ayers said it was a BB gun used in text messages to his ex, but officers recovered a 9mm handgun, Wynhausen continued.
Judge Carol Bispham set security at $30,000. “These allegations involve serious bodily injury to people and the general public,” she said.
Defense attorney Erik Moeller, assisting with the videoconference arraignment hearings on Monday, asked that Ayers be given a conditional release, given that he has no criminal history and works at a local business.
The next hearing in the case was scheduled for Nov. 27, and Bispham appointed Keith Rohrbaugh as Ayers' defense attorney.
The Walmart evacuation came on Wednesday night. At 9:04 p.m., an employee phoned the Lebanon Police Department saying that she was at work when she received a message from Ayers.
Ayers said he was going to kill her and included a photo of his hand pointing a handgun at the store, according to a Lebanon Police Department news release.
As officers began to arrive on scene, Ayers messaged her again, telling her he could see the police cars, the news release states.
As a precaution, Lebanon police evacuated the entire area, including the store, and took the female caller to a safe location. Lebanon officers, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, the Albany Police Department and Oregon State Police searched and cleared the building and surrounding area. Several canine officers in training in a nearby city also assisted in the search.
During the search, authorities learned that Ayers had fled the area.
On Thursday, police arrested Ayers in a traffic stop on Denny School Road, and Ayers was taken into custody without incident or injury.
Editor’s note: Ayers' name was misspelled in a previous article based on information from authorities. During Monday’s court hearing, Moeller drew Bispham’s attention to the error.