March 2, 2024

U.S.A.-(— According to Ellijay Police, on January 9, 2023, at about 6:30 p.m., Shawn Sutton, 39 years old and a convicted felon, posed as a customer ready to purchase an energy drink at the Ideal Mart on at 31 Old Northcutt Road in Ellijay Georgia.

Ellijay is the county seat of Gilmer County, Georgia, about 60 miles north of Atlanta. Gilmer County was founded in 1832 on the junction of the Coosawattee River and the Etowah River. It is a thriving rural county with 31,000 residents.

There were two real customers and a store clerk inside the Ideal Mart with Sutton. Outside, there was one customer at the gas pump. Melody Sutton, Shawn’s wife, was in a parked car outside the store.

The suspect, Shawn Sutton, obtained the energy drink, then pulled a pair of women’s panties from around his neck to cover his face. Sutton went behind the counter and pointed a .45 caliber handgun at the head of the clerk. Sutton demanded all the money.

One of the customers produced his concealed firearm and intervened. The other customer went outside to retrieve his pistol from his vehicle and returned to help subdue Sutton. The third armed customer at the gas pumps came inside to assist as Sutton was attempting to leave. The first armed customer told the other two armed customers not to shoot Sutton, as Sutton had been disarmed.

At this point in time, law enforcement officers arrived at the scene.  It was 6:36 p.m. Sutton was still attempting to leave. One officer ordered the suspect to get down. Sutton did not comply. The officer used a Taser to engage the suspect, who was then taken into custody. As other officers arrived on the scene, one of them discovered Melody Sutton in the parked car. She was taken into custody without incident. The couple was from Blue Ridge, Georgia. Blue Ridge is 18 miles northeast of Ellijay on the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway.

Officers from three departments, Ellijay, East Ellijay, and the Gilmer County Sheriff’s office, all responded to the 911 call, arrived at the scene, and assisted in taking the suspects into custody.

Shawn Sutton is charged with one count of Armed Robbery, one count of Aggravated Assault, and one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Shawn and Melody Sutton are being held without bond.

Georgia became a member of the Constitutional (permitless) Carry club on April 12, 2022. Georgia became the 25th state where no permit is necessary for a law-abiding person to carry a loaded firearm, openly or concealed. No permit was required in 1791 when the Second Amendment was ratified.


Armed robbery is a dangerous occupation in the middle of an armed population. The armed customers demonstrated good situational awareness, discipline, cooperation, and restraint. The police and armed citizens worked together to resolve a dangerous situation and take a felon into custody. When the population and police trust each other and work together, low crime rates are the result.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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