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FERRIER FILES: Amish buggies targeted by armed robbers

PHOTO: LCSO

Deputies arrested three people on aggravated assault and aggravated robbery charges of Amish people on buggies in Lawrence and Giles County.

The sheriff’s department arrested 18-year-old Acey Mcdougle, 23-year-old Johnathan Casteel and 18-year-old Amber Lawrence in connection with the robbery spree last week.

“They would drive past a buggy, turn around and approach it head on with their brights on," said Lawrence County investigator Daniel Kellum. "This would blind the Amish driver. Then a passenger would get out with a mask and a gun and commit the robbery."

According to the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department, an F150 truck blocked the roadway and a armed, masked person confronted the buggy passengers asking for money. In one robbery, the suspect got away with $100. In another robbery, the Amish people fled in the buggy while a gunshot was fired.

There were two incidents in Lawrence County and one in Giles county. The two sheriff’s departments worked together and quickly solved the crimes.

“It was a true cooperative effort,” said Giles County Investigator George Barturen.

At one point last week, the Amish community was so scared they were staying in at night with their doors locked.

“These are good people," Inspector Kellum said. "They deserve to live in peace. I am glad we could end this."

“When I told the Giles county victim we had solved the crime, he said thank you,” said Inspector Barturen. "Then he shook his head and said he felt sorry for the robbers. They are just good people."

McDougal, Lawrence, and Casteel were charged with aggravated robbery, two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, and three counts of aggravated assault. McDougal and Lawrence are being held on a $120,000 bond.

Casteel has a higher bond of 380,000 due to a number of mailbox vandalisms he's recently been arrested for in Etheridge.

The three suspects are set to appear in Lawrence County court on May 23.

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