Case Delayed For Man Accused Of Shooting At Jehovah’s Witnesses

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John Baldwin

The man suspected of shooting at a local group of Jehova’s Witnesses, along with two men who allegedly participated in the threatening of kids at gunpoint in a home invasion, had their arraignments delayed Monday in Benton County.

John Baldwin, 35, was scheduled to be arraigned in Benton County Circuit Court. The prosecutor in his case, though, recently took a job at Walmart, so a new prosecutor was assigned to the case, officials said.

Baldwin’s arraignment was rescheduled for Dec. 2. Centerton police said Baldwin fired 19 rounds at a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses on Sept. 28. He was arrested and released from jail the next day on $50,000 bond, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.

According to a probable cause affidavit, three Jehovah’s Witnesses approached Baldwin in his front yard at Rainbow Farm Road, and Baldwin told them, “Get your (explicit) off my property. I moved out here to get away from people like you.”

The report states the Jehovah’s Witnesses apologized, and as they were getting in their car one of them heard, “Get me my 9.”

Baldwin admitted to firing a gun at three Jehovah’s Witnesses when they drove away from his house, according to the report.

Baldwin was booked into Benton County Jail and faces a felony charge of aggravated assault.

Several of Baldwin’s neighbors said he moved to the neighborhood less than a month ago.

Kristi Tidwell who lives nearby said she was home when police arrived at her neighbor’s home.

“My husband and I were working around the house. We had the blinds open in the back. We saw probably seven or eight cop cars pulling in there,” Tidwell said. “It seems like there is no reason to do anything like that. If they left peaceably, why not leave them alone.”

Officers recovered 13 shell casings from the sidewalk in front of Baldwin’s house and a Springfield XDM-9.

5NEWS spoke to some members of the Kingdom Hall Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Bentonville who visit Baldwin’s neighborhood. They declined to go on camera and said they didn’t want to make the situation worse. They said they have a no-contact list for residents who don’t want to be visited.

James Stewart (left) and Heath Rhodes

James Stewart (left) and Heath Rhodes

Two Rogers men accused in an aggravated robbery also had their arraignment date rescheduled Monday. Their new court date is also set for Dec. 2 in Benton County Circuit Court, according to the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office.

James Riley Stewart, 20, and Heath Andrew Rhodes, 27, were arrested Sept. 27 after police said a gunman broke into an apartment with the resident’s children inside, and threatened them at gunpoint. The pair were arrested following a three-week investigation by authorities.

Rogers police responded Sept. 9 to Double Tree Apartments in reference a call about a man chasing a child with an ax. At the apartment complex, officers found Franklin Belcher carrying a baseball bat. Belcher told police he and his son has been the victim of a break-in at gunpoint, according to a probable cause affidavit filed with the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office.

Belcher told police he was sleeping in Apartment V67 when he heard someone yelling. He came out to the living room to find a man with a mask pointing a gun at him and telling him to get on the ground, the victim told responding officers.

Another man came out of a bedroom belonging to Belcher’s son, and the two suspects left, he told police. The son told officers he was watching Netflix in his bedroom and his brother was on the couch, when a man came into the apartment, pointing a gun around. The suspect allegedly threatened to shoot the residents and stole an iPod and about $400 in cash that had been on a table, according to the probable cause affidavit.

One of the son’s friends was also at the apartment at the time of the robbery. Belcher told police he saw the gunman’s face temporarily when he lifted his mask, and he recognized him as an acquaintance of his son’s friend. The friend ran from the apartment, and later denied the allegation to Belcher, the affidavit states.

Using surveillance video and a description of the alleged getaway car, police were eventually able to track down the suspects and arrest them, according to the probable cause affidavit.