Drug store armed robber gets long prison sentence
An Ellijay man who robbed an East Ellijay drug store and threatened police officers with an assault rifle in March of last year will serve 15 years in prison, according to Gilmer County Superior Court documents.
Hulett Lynn Keaton, 54, pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery, three counts of aggravated assault, three counts of kidnapping, three counts of false imprisonment, aggravated assault on a police officer, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Several of the charges stem from Keaton’s treatment of customers inside the Rite-Aid store when he walked in with the assault rifle March 4. After he was arrested and taken to the county jail, Keaton was also charged with causing a riot in a penal institution.
Keaton was sentenced to 20 years, to serve 15 in prison, by Judge Mary Beth Priest last week.
Police Chief Larry Callahan said Keaton took hostages inside Rite-Aid and herded them to the rear of the store. A patron outside in the parking lot called 911 after she saw Keaton donning a mask and walking into the store with the rifle.
After exiting the store, Keaton pointed the rifle at Sgt. Mike McClure. Callahan said Keaton would have likely been shot in the Rite-Aid parking lot if officers did not have to fire with traffic behind Keaton backing up at a red light on Highway 515, including school buses.
After Keaton took off in his vehicle, he stopped and had a brief standoff with authorities. At one point, he was seen pointing the rifle barrel at his temple.
Keaton fled again out Yukon Road but ran over “stop sticks” officers had placed in the roadway that flattened his car’s tires at the intersection of Yukon and Eller. McClure noticed Keaton had “white powder” around his mouth after his arrest. He was taken to North Georgia Medical Center and was treated, then released into custody.