TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A Leon County couple has been charged with aggravated assault after police say they shot at a family trying to return a U-Haul truck last week.
Wallace and Beverly Fountain each face three counts of aggravated assault following the incident in the 3600 block of Apalachee Parkway on Aug. 27.
According to an arrest report obtained by ABC 27, a Tallahassee Police officer was parked in the parking lot of the ACE Hardware store in the area when he heard shots fired nearby.
Before those shots, documents say the officer saw a U-Haul van pull into the parking lot, followed by a GMC truck.
"The driver then parked the GMC by the U-Haul and based on their interactions, I assumed both parties knew each other and the gentleman driving the GMC was picking up the driver of the U-Haul," the officer wrote in the arrest report. "Their actions were normal, nothing out of the ordinary."
A few minutes later, the officer says he heard "multiple gunshots" fired nearby. Circling the parking lot to see what was going on, arrest documents say the officer saw the GMC truck again as it was leaving the area "at a high rate of speed," the people inside motioning at something behind them.
Not long after, documents say the officer saw a man and a woman, both armed with pistols, walking toward the truck as it tried to leave the parking lot.
Drawing a gun, the officer told the armed couple to drop their guns.
"The male and female could be heard saying that the occupants [of the GMC] were possibly stealing fuel and that the male could not hear my verbal commands," the officer wrote in the report. "Both the male and the female were not obeying my commands at first, however, they eventually placed the firearms on the ground and laid on the ground, away from the firearms."
Other officers were called to the scene and the couple, identified as Wallace and Beverly Fountain, were detained and questioned.
When investigators spoke to Beverly Fountain, documents say she told them she is the owner of the Fountain Plaza strip mall where the U-Haul drop-off was located. She said that the U-Haul owner had been complaining about people cutting fuel lines on trucks and siphoning gasoline.
To combat this, Beverly told officers that she and her husband took matters into their own hands and began conducting surveillance in the parking lot in an attempt to find the culprits who were stealing gas.
Beverly told police that she and her husband were "covertly" sitting in a U-Haul in the back of the parking lot when she heard the GMC drive in. Beverly said she heard the people inside talking and believed they were trying to steal gas from one of the trucks.
"Believing the occupants of the GMC were attempting to steal gasoline, Beverly told Wallace they needed to 'make some noise' to scare them off," TPD investigators wrote in the arrest report. To do so, Beverly said she and her husband got out of their truck with their guns and fired several rounds into the air.
Documents show that when questioned, Wallace gave a similar account of what happened. Both told officers that they never pointed their guns at the victims and "did not wish to cause harm, only scare the individuals they suspected were stealing gasoline."
When asked if she witnessed the victims stealing gas, Beverly said she did not. In his interview, documents say Wallace didn't mention seeing the victims commit the alleged crime.
After speaking with the Fountains, documents say officers spoke with the victims, a pair of brothers and a child who documents note as being "extremely distraught after the shooting." They said that one of the brothers was dropping off his U-Haul at the location and the other arrived to pick him up in the GMC truck.
The brothers said as they were getting ready to leave, they heard gunshots. As they sped away, they told police they saw Beverly and Wallace yelling and shooting at them.
The arrest report notes that the victims were also able to provide documents confirming their rental agreement with U-Haul as well as the drop-off location.
When investigators assessed the scene, the arrest documents say that police "did not locate any signs that the U-Haul had been tampered with, or any gasoline on the ground," but did find a spent shell casing ground near the location where they believed shots were fired.
Officers also searched Beverly and Wallace’s truck and found a shotgun and two additional magazines of ammo. Documents say that Beverly was in position of two pistols while Wallace had one.
Based on the evidence, both Beverly and Wallace were charged with aggravated assault and booked into the Leon County Detention Facility. Both have since been released to pre-trial supervision and were ordered to surrender their guns within 24 hours of their release.