Athens customer pepper-sprays shoplifter

ATHENS, Ga. -- A woman with a can of pepper spray joined other customers Wednesday afternoon to help a security guard who fought with a shoplifter in Macy’s at Georgia Square Mall, Athens-Clarke police said.

One of the department store’s loss-prevention officers watched 48-year-old Kenneth Dwayne Jones of Hull as he stuffed clothes into a bag then headed toward an exit, police said.

The security guard headed off the shoplifter, but Jones became combative and tried to force his way out of the store when he and the guard began to fight, police said.

The struggle spilled out of the store and into the area between double doors at the exit, where Jones tried to choke the guard and punched him several times in the ribs, according to police.

Several shoppers intervened, including a woman who sprayed the fighting men with a can of pepper spray, and an off-duty probation officer who helped subdue and handcuff the shoplifter, police said.

Jones had tried to steal 10 shirts, three pairs of slacks and four pairs of jeans, together worth $1,078.99, police said.

He was charged with felony theft by shoplifting and battery, police said.

The loss-prevention security officer didn’t need medical treatment for any injuries, police said, but EMTs flushed out Jones’ eyes with water.

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