Walmart employee robbed at gunpoint in Madison

WSMV's Brendan Tierney explains how an overnight crime at the Gallatin Pike Walmart is causing customers to worry.
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 8:53 AM CST
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MADISON, Tenn. (WSMV) - An armed man was arrested on Monday for allegedly assaulting a Walmart employee and stealing his phone in an attempt to exchange it for cash at a grocery store across the street.

According to the arrest affidavit, an employee at Walmart Neighborhood Market on Gallatin Pike in Madison went to his car parked outside to grab his ChapStick around 9 a.m. Once at his vehicle, 25-year-old Shawn Dowlen approached the employee with a gun from behind and began frisking him for items to steal, police said.

The employee told police that Dowlen eventually took his cell phone and ran off, toward the Kroger across the street on Gallatin Pike. This particular Kroger is known to have a machine that takes used cell phones in exchange for money.

Officers arrived at Kroger and detained Dowlen as he was exiting the store, police said. The stolen phone was still in his pants pocket as well as a loaded silver Bersa .380 handgun. The gun was seized and Dowlen was placed under arrest.

“That’s very concerning because you don’t know now when you can (safely) go shopping,” customer Queen Esther said. “People are robbing people early in the morning, in the afternoon and also late in the evening.”

Esther said she has never had an issue in the parking lot of the Walmart that’s her normal grocery store, but she is now scared to shop there without more security in the area.

Customer Moniqueca Suggs said she tries to avoid shopping at this Walmart location as much as possible because she doesn’t feel safe walking in the parking lot alone.

“I pass by here almost every day, and you see a lot of people out,” customer Moniqueca Suggs said. “A lot of sketchy individuals out, and it’s not surprising. It seems like it’s continuing to grow. You’ve seeing a lot more than usual since the time I’ve (lived) here.”

Walmart released a statement about the incident that said they are grateful their employee was not hurt in the armed robbery.

“The safety and security of our customers and associates is a priority at all times,” a Walmart spokesperson said.

Dowlen admitted to officers he robbed the Walmart employee for money for his family and drugs. He is charged with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and remains in custody on $75,000 bond.