A Georgia teenager is thankful that he’s spending Thanksgiving at home awaiting U.S. Army basic training instead of eating turkey in a jail cell.
Vashaun Chandler Rozier, 18, was accused of organizing a party last June that turned into a youth rampage through a Macon Walmart. He faced charges of criminal street gang activity, rioting and criminal damage to property in connection with the 2 a.m. stampede, which left overturned shopping carts and a huge mess for employees to clean up.
In an act of charity, Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke said he dismissed the charges so that Rozier could join the military, the Macon Telegraph reported Sunday.
“Typically, in cases like this, they resolve with the defendant doing some type of community service,” Cooke said. “Honestly, I can think of no higher community service than serving our country in the armed forces.”
Rozier has completed his Army physical, gone through his processing, and is waiting for a ship-out date, his lawyer, Kevin Hicks, told the Telegraph.
Described as a “flash mob gone awry,” at first police thought the stampede was gang-related, but as they investigated, it turned out more like a group of teens who got a little too rambunctious. “I don’t recall anything like this ever happening, even before I got in law enforcement,” said Bibb County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Randy Gonzales, a 27 year law enforcement veteran who has lived in Macon all his life.
“It’s just one of those incidents I think where they just got a group up and just decided they wanted to go in the store and cause mayhem and cause the destruction they did,” Gonzales added.
The rampage caused about $2,000 of damage to the Walmart store, $550 of which has been paid in restitution by defendants. The rest will be paid by local organizations such as the NAACP, according to Cooke.
Cooke said he’s proud that Rozier decided to enlist in the Army.
“Obviously, people looked at him as a party organizer,” Cooke said. “Now, he’s showing true leadership—showing how to move forward.”
With many teens falling victim to gangs and crime, Rozier choosing an honorable path is something we can all be thankful for.
Watch surveillance video, via The Telegraph, of the youth stampede below.