- Grove City, Pennsylvania

Local News

July 3, 2014

GC area child assault case heads to county court

PINE — The Grove City-area man accused of grabbing a young boy in the bathroom of the Pine Township Walmart will have his case heard in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

Shawn Michael Miller, 27, of 76 Blom Road, Pine Township, was charged June 13 by state police with unlawful restraint and simple assault for the June 12 incident, during which the boy escaped unharmed.

During his preliminary hearing Wednesday before District Judge D. Neil McEwen, Pine Township, Miller agreed to stipulate the charges, meaning he understood there was sufficient evidence for the case to be held to common pleas court if testimony had been heard.

Miller, represented by attorney Dana Flick of the Mercer County Public Defender's Office, was returned to Mercer County Jail on $100,000 bond after the hearing.

He was released Thursday on his own recognizance after his bond conditions were changed, according to online court records, which also show he's set to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Aug. 19 by Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John.

According to the criminal complaint:

Police were called to Walmart, 1566 W. Main St. Extension, at 6:35 p.m. June 12 to investigate the report of an attempted abduction and assault of a child.

Police spoke to the victim, a 9-year-old boy, and his father in a store office. The boy said he and his father and his younger brother went into the men's bathroom, and that his father and brother finished before he did and went outside to wait for him.

The boy exited the stall and began washing his hands when a man later identified as Miller entered the bathroom and stood near the urinal.

As the boy walked toward the door to leave, Miller grabbed him from behind and dragged him backwards into a stall and closed the door. The boy said he shouted, "Put me down!"

Miller released him and the boy tried to get past him, but Miller shoved him back into the stall. The boy said he started screaming for his father as loud as he could and he was then able to get away from Miller and out of the stall.

The boy ran out to his father, who was standing just outside the bathroom. The father told police his son was "running out of the restroom, crying and hysterical."

The father noticed Miller come out of the bathroom after his son and he was walking quickly toward the store exit. The father asked the boy what happened, after which the father caught up with Miller in the parking lot and asked him, "Did you put your hands on my son?"

Miller told him, "Yeah, I did, but he came into the stall when I was in there." Miller then ran off toward a wooded area west of County Market.

Several still images from Walmart's video footage showing Miller in the store were released by police to multiple news outlets. Police on June 13 received numerous tips identifying Miller as the suspect.

Miller's mother also contacted police to report her son had been involved in the incident and that he was at home. He was arrested at 8:15 a.m. at home and questioned at the state police barracks in Jackson Township.

Miller said he had been in Walmart to buy a CD player, but he never went near the electronics department. He did go into the bathroom, where a boy was washing his hands. Miller went to the urinal and the boy was "mouthy" with him, Miller said.

When asked to explain, Miller said the boy told him that "he was in his way and he didn't like people in his way."

Miller admitted to grabbing the boy from behind and dragging him backwards into the stall with the intention of hitting the child because he was angry with him.

The boy began to scream and struggle and Miller said something told him to stop and let go of the child. Miller then left the store and was confronted by the boy's father in the parking lot.

Miller then went to his bicycle, which he had left in slightly wooded area between Walmart and County Market, and then went home.

Published June 21, 2014, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

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