Authorities have arrested another teenage suspect in a recent string of armed robberies in Forsyth County, though they say he wasn't involved in Sunday night's fatal grocery store shooting.
According to a Forsyth County Sheriff's report, 18-year-old Darren Slayton has been charged with two counts of armed robbery in connection with the Aug. 26 holdup of the Chevron station at Hwy. 20 and James Burgess Road.
Slayton was arrested about 6:23 p.m. Tuesday outside his Verde Glen Lane residence in Cumming, according to the report.
The report said Slayton had been implicated as being a part of the group committing the armed robberies in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties.
Sheriff Ted Paxton said it appears Slayton and two of the other suspects knew each other from high school in Forsyth County.
Paxton did not rule out additional arrests, but said authorities think they have all the robbery participants in custody at the Forsyth County Detention Center.
The three adult suspects in the armed robbery and shooting at the Canton Road Ingles had first appearance hearings Wednesday morning in Magistrate Court.
Bond was denied for Tyrice Kendall Adside and Sharod Johnson, both 18 and of Forsyth County, as well as for the alleged gunman, 19-year-old Nakitta J. Holmes of Buford.
The teens appeared via teleconference in the office of Magistrate Pamela Boles. Each faces charges of armed robbery and murder.
A 16-year-old boy from Buford, whose name has not been released, has also been charged in the Ingles case. He is being held at the Regional Youth Detention Center in Gainesville.
Slayton also had a first appearance hearing Wednesday. Bond was denied, according to a jail spokeswoman.
Paxton said Wednesday that Holmes shot security guard David Casto, 37, on Sunday night in a “cold-blooded, sadistic, execution killing.”
“The man was disarmed,” Paxton said. “He was no threat to them. His hands had been bound and tied with duct tape, he’d had duct tape placed around his eyes and he was sitting down in the cooler.
"He was absolutely no threat whatsoever to anyone when he was shot.”
Paxton said authorities still have not determined what led to the shooting. Casto and Holmes were the only people in the cooler when it happened.
“(Holmes) has not been cooperative to this point, and certainly you can understand why,” Paxton said. “He’s now having to keep himself from being executed at a later date.”
Authorities have not found any of the weapons used in the grocery store incident, including Casto’s 9-millimeter pistol.
So far, they are searching for two handguns, a shotgun and Casto’s bullet-proof vest.
The sheriff said evidence indicates Casto was shot with his own weapon.
“We do know he was shot with a 9-millimeter caliber pistol and of all the information we’ve gotten so far from everyone, the only 9-millimeter pistol that was ever in the possession of any of these people was the one that was taken from the security guard,” Paxton said.
He said Adside, Johnson and Slayton likely met at school.
Forsyth County Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said the three suspects attended the district’s Gateway Academy, which was formerly known as the Piedmont Learning Center.
Students typically end up at Gateway as a disciplinary action, Caracciolo said. They can be placed in the school by Juvenile Court or as a consequence of a school system tribunal hearing.
She said Slayton attended Gateway for nearly two years before graduating from South Forsyth High School in May.
Adside was also part of South's 2010 graduating class, Caracciolo said. He attended Gateway for about the same length of time, but also attended the school system's Academy @ Night in order to graduate.
Caracciolo said Johnson started and finished at West, graduating in May, but in between attended Gateway and the Academy @ Night.
Paxton said it is not clear how the three recent high school graduates became associated with Holmes and the 16-year-old. Investigators continue to gather evidence.
“Between now and trial we’ll be doing a whole lot more to close all these gaps,” Paxton said. “Right now the more important thing to us is to recover all these guns and everything, so we’re not dwelling a whole lot on the history behind all of them and how it all evolved.”
Paxton said authorities were concerned as they investigated the August crimes that circumstances would worsen.
“As we saw their demeanor and how they acted and conducted themselves as these other robberies occurred, we were very fearful of this exact thing happening because we could see an escalation in their demeanor and how they were acting,” he said.
Paxton said Johnson had worked as a cashier at Ingles for about six months. After initially appearing to be a witness in the crime, Johnson implicated himself in the incident and other armed robberies in August. He picked himself out in surveillance footage taken from the other businesses, at least two of which are in neighboring Gwinnett County.
The other Forsyth County incidents occurred about 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 25 and 26, with at least one suspect participating in both.
The sheriff's office has been working with neighboring jurisdictions on the cases, which happened at the Chevron on Hwy. 20 and a Waffle House on Bethelview Road.
In each of the local cases, two or three armed men took money from the cash registers of the business after threatening the employees.
In both incidents, the suspects wanted to access the business’ safe, but could not because the employees did not know how to open it.
Paxton said Johnson told authorities that he was instructed by the other suspects in the Ingles robbery to lure Casto, the security guard from Winder, and a female Ingles employee to the back of the store.
No one else was inside the business, which had closed for the night, at the time.
Johnson and the female employee were bound with duct tape and taken to the store’s office by Adside and the 16-year-old while Holmes stayed in the cooler with Casto, Paxton said.
Johnson, Adside and the 16-year-old were arrested Monday. Authorities found Holmes in Buford early Tuesday morning.
Susan Bisbing regularly shops at the Ingles and said Casto was “a friendly guy.”
She said he helped her out when her vehicle wouldn’t start one night after she’d bought groceries at the store.
“He was friendly enough to come out and help me jump-start my car,” she said. “Most of my neighbors, people I go to church with, people I know from just living up here in Cumming, all shop at Ingles once a day or once a week ... we’re all shocked. It was a senseless act.”
Bisbing commended authorities for catching the suspects quickly.