Former Early man indicted in connection with Hobby Lobby incident

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Early Police Department

A former Early man was arrested in Houston on a Brown County indictment for attempted aggravated kidnapping following a Sept. 15, 2020 incident at the Hobby Lobby store in Early.

The Early Police Department earlier posted a photo and description of Ronnie Jackson, 47, on its Facebook page and sought the public’s help in locating Jackson. Early Police Chief David Mercer said Jackson was arrested Friday in Houston. 

Early police initially arrested Jackson on Sept. 17 following the Hobby Lobby incident on a charge of attempted kidnapping, police and Brown County Jail records state. Jackson faced additional charges at that time including an Ector County motion to adjudicate for indecent exposure. Jackson bonded out of jail in October on bonds totaling $115,000. 

In June, the Brown County Grand Jury returned an indictment on a higher charge of attempted aggravated kidnapping. The indictment states Jackson’s new bond is set at $150,000.

Early police filed an earlier affidavit that described the Hobby Lobby incident. According to the affidavit:

Police responded the night of Sept. 15 to Hobby Lobby, where a manager said a female customer had reported being followed by a male. The manager said employees had noticed the man “checking out” female customers.

The manager said the man left the store quickly and drove away in a Ford Explorer after the female customer spoke with store staff.

The customer told police she was shopping in Hobby Lobby while her 4-year-old daughter was at another location under adult supervision. She said the man began following her as soon as she entered the store.

She said every time she turned around, the man would be holding a cell phone to his ear, but she never heard the man speaking into the phone.

The woman left the store, picked up her daughter and returned to the store to shop. The same man began following the woman and her daughter, the woman told police.

The woman said her daughter paused to look at items in the store. The woman turned around and called out to her daughter, then saw the man “lunge past with his arms outstretched toward her daughter,” the affidavit states. The woman said she believed the man was trying to grab her daughter.

The woman said she grabbed her daughter, went to the front cash register and notified an employee. The woman said she saw the man leave quickly.

Police obtained a store surveillance video and that depicted the suspect. Police posted a still photo from the video on the department’s Facebook page and asked for the public's help in identifying the man.

A citizen recognized the man in the photo and contacted police, who located and spoke with the man, identified by police as Jackson.

The man told police and Texas Ranger Jason Shea he’d gone to Hobby Lobby to buy spray paint and left after no more than 10 minutes. The man said he did not lunge at a child and did not remember even seeing a child.

Police reviewed Hobby Lobby video footage which showed the man was in the store for more than an hour, the affidavit states.