Two 22-year-old Camden men were indicted Friday on federal charges in connection with the shooting death of a Pine Bluff pawnshop owner, Brandon McHan, during an attempted robbery of the shop Nov. 12, 2018.
Daryl Strickland Jr. and Rodney Tyrone Henry already faced capital murder, aggravated robbery and theft of property charges in Jefferson County Circuit Court after their Dec. 4 arrests in Camden.
The state was seeking the death penalty against the men, but when federal prosecutors take over a case, state charges are often dropped. However, if convicted on the federal charges, the men face a potential sentence of life in prison or death.
Last month, Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Hunter said the case had raised the interest of federal authorities from the beginning, and that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted in the investigation because of McHan's background as a federal firearms license holder and firearms dealer.
"Everybody wants to make sure we're able to prosecute this case in the forum in which we'll be most successful," Hunter noted at that time.
McHan, 34, owned Wise Buck Pawn Shop on South Camden Road in Pine Bluff, to which police were called about 5:30 p.m. Nov. 12 after shots were reported fired in the building. When police arrived, gunfire could still be heard inside, and shortly after two men were seen running through a field south of the pawnshop, according to a probable-cause affidavit.
Police said McHan was shot while exchanging gunfire with at least one of the assailants. They said McHan and a friend, Jason Booth, were inside when the robbers entered and tried to hold up the store.
Both McHan and the robbers began firing, and the robbers soon walked out of the pawnshop but quickly returned, police said. They said Booth, who had gone over to McHan and was trying to render first aid, grabbed McHan's gun and fired back but was shot in the chin, abdomen and hand.
McHan and Booth were taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center, where McHan died during surgery.
Strickland and Henry are also charged in state and federal court in the robbery of the nearby Alon Gas Station on the same day, in which money and guns were taken from an employee.
The indictment, handed up Thursday by a federal grand jury in Little Rock, alleges the men conspired to rob the pawnshop, which was a federally licensed firearms dealer, and caused McHan's death. It also charges them with conspiring to rob the gas station, robbing the gas station and using a firearm during the robbery.
Each man faces six charges altogether.
The penalty for conspiring to, attempting to, or interfering with commerce by robbery is up to 20 years in federal prison, where parole is unavailable. The penalty for brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence is between seven years and life in prison, with that term to be served consecutively to any other term imposed.
The men face up to life in prison, or the death penalty, if convicted of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, causing someone's death.
Each crime also carries a fine of up to $250,000.
The indictment was announced Friday by Cody Hiland, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and William McCrary, assistant special agent in charge of the ATF's New Orleans field office.
The investigation was conducted by the ATF, the Pine Bluff Police Department, the Camden Police Department and state Division of Community Correction. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benecia Moore and Kristin Bryant.