Second store employee shot, gas station robbed during crime spree
LITTLE ROCK—Two men who ended the life of a Pine Bluff pawn shop owner will spend the rest of their lives in a federal prison. On Tuesday, United States District Judge James. M. Moody, Jr., sentenced Daryl Strickland, Jr., 26, of Camden, and Rodney Henry, 25, also of Camden, each to sentences of life imprisonment.
Strickland, Jr., and Henry each pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence that resulted in murder following an incident that led to the death of Brandon McHan, the owner of Wise Buck Pawn Shop in Pine Bluff. During the same incident another store employee, Jason Booth, was shot in the face and severely wounded. The pair went on to rob a gas station at gun point an hour later. There is no parole in the federal system.
“The senseless, despicable, and evil murder of Brandon McHan and attempted murder of Jason Booth rendered an incalculable loss for the McHan and Booth families, and the communities of White Hall and Pine Bluff,” Jonathan Ross, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said. “We are grateful that Judge Moody’s pronouncements of life sentences for both defendants guarantee that no one else will be victimized by Mr. Strickland or Mr. Henry again. Our office remains committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to prosecute federal cases involving violent crime throughout the Eastern District of Arkansas any time doing so is in the best interest of our communities.”
“This was a tragic case that hit close to home, as ATF works closely with thousands of federal firearms licensees like Mr. McHan,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony Spotswood. “Federal firearms licensees play a valuable role in making sure firearms are sold legally and kept out of the hands of prohibited individuals. We are proud of this collaborative effort and hope this sentence brings some peace to the family and the community.”
The investigation revealed and the defendants admitted that on November 12, 2018, at 5:22 p.m., Strickland Jr. and Henry knocked on the front door of Wise Buck Pawn Shop in Pine Bluff and asked if the store was still open. McHan told Strickland, Jr., and Henry through the locked front door that the store was closed for the night. The two then appeared to leave the area as McHan and Booth continued closing the store.
Soon after, when McHan and Booth had exited out the front door to start their cars and then returned to the store, Strickland, Jr., and Henry entered the threshold of the pawn shop. Strickland, Jr., fired several gunshots, striking both employees. Strickland, Jr., and Henry then retreated from the entrance of the store, but two minutes later, both returned to the front door and Strickland, Jr., again began shooting into the pawn shop. When McHan and Booth attempted to fire back, Strickland, Jr., retreated and Henry fired multiple gunshots into the pawn shop. Strickland, Jr., returned to the doorway of the pawn shop and fired more gunshots inside. Strickland, Jr., and Henry then left the scene.
Pine Bluff Police Department officers responded to the shooting at Wise Buck Pawn Shop and McHan and Booth were transported from the scene to Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff. McHan died from his injuries, which included three gunshot wounds. Booth was shot in the face near the chin area and the bullet exited through his neck, and he survived.
Approximately one hour after the incident at Wise Buck Pawn Shop, Strickland, Jr., and Henry entered the Alon gas station in Pine Bluff and held up the store clerk at gun point. Henry, while pointing a firearm at the store clerk, went behind the counter and emptied the cash register. Strickland, Jr., remained at the front of the counter, also holding the clerk at gunpoint. In addition to $800, Henry stole the store clerk’s firearm.
Strickland, Jr., and Henry were arrested and charged in connection with these two incidents on December 4, 2018. They were then indicted by a federal grand jury on October 3, 2019, on multiple charges stemming from both incidents, including interference, attempt to interfere, and conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and murder while discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Strickland, Jr., eventually pleaded guilty on August 19, 2022, to a superseding information charging him and Henry with discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence that resulted in the death of a person through the use of the firearm, which killing is murder. Henry pleaded guilty to the same charge on September 27, 2022.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Pine Bluff Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Kristin H. Bryant and Benecia Moore prosecuted the case for the United States.
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