Witnesses to a robbery at Wal-Mart early Thursday told authorities they were familiar with the suspect.

City Police Investigator Keith Heskett said witnesses at the scene told him they had recognized the man who ran past them with a stolen money bag.

“They said he cuts their lawn,” Heskett said. “They told me his name was Brian Prier, and he lived in a trailer park south of town.”

Prier, 36, of Claremore, was arrested later that evening after he led authorities on a high-speed chase from Claremore to Tulsa. Prier is being charged with second degree robbery in connection with the Wal-Mart robbery.

This was the second robbery report in Claremore this week. On Monday, an employee of Carl’s Jr. reported being robbed in the parking lot.

She told authorities that she had just left the restaurant and gotten into her car, placing her purse on the passenger’s seat. According to her statement to Claremore Police officers, a vehicle pulled up beside hers and the passenger opened her car door, brandishing what she believed to be a gun, and grabbed her purse before fleeing the parking lot.

Thursday’s robbery of Wal-Mart was conducted unarmed, Heskett said. He added that there is no apparent connection between the two robberies.

“There are still some unanswered questions in the Carl’s Jr. robbery,” he said.

According to a report prepared by Heskett, a Wal-Mart employee made the call to police concerning that robbery at 12:18 a.m. Thursday.

Once officers arrived on scene, they learned from a female employee that $232 in ones, inside a money bag, was taken by a male suspect.

“The suspect walked up behind her and grabbed the money bag,” Heskett said.

The report states the assistant manager was informed of the robbery by the female employee. A description of a white male wearing a black sleeveless shirt and blue shorts was given to authorities.

A couple of witnesses gave vital information to the assistant manager and authorities, which led to Prier’s arrest.

When the assistant manager was informed of the robbery, he told Heskett he ran out the front door looking for Prier when a female pulled up and gave a tag number and Prier’s direction of travel.

Heskett stated he then passed that information on to the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office over the radio.

A state game warden overheard the description of the vehicle and tag number and spotted Prier’s vehicle.

“The Wildlife Officer just happened to hear the description and attempted to stop Prier,” Heskett said. “During the chase, Prier actually sideswiped the wildlife officer’s vehicle.”

Prier did not stop for authorities until the Oklahoma Highway Patrol threw out stop sticks near 126th E. Avenue and 23rd streets in Tulsa. Prier then ran from the vehicle, but officers were able to apprehend him, according to Heskett.

The money, $232, was found strewn throughout the vehicle, Heskett said, but the money bag was no where to be found.

During a follow up investigation, Heskett said his department obtained two surveillance videos showing a man whom they believe to be Prier walking toward the south entrance of Wal-Mart, which was locked at the time. The video also allegedly shows Prier then walking to the north entrance, and then entering and exiting the store a few times before the robbery.

Heskett said Prier was not armed, and no one was hurt in the incident.

“The most important thing to remember here is that no one was injured and it worked out for the best,” he said.

Prier is currently being held in the Rogers County Jail in lieu of a $25,000 bond. Prier has a criminal history in Tulsa County, including robbery by force or fear, which was later amended to grand larceny in 1999; aggravated assault and battery on a police officer and actual physical control of a motor vehicle while intoxicated in 2002. On all Tulsa County charges, Prier pleaded guilty and received suspended sentences.

Assisting in the chase and capture of Prier were Claremore Police Sgt. Rick Jones, Rogers County Sheriff’s Office deputies, a state Wild Life Officer, Tulsa Police Department and Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Contact Krystal J. Carman, newsed@swbell.net.