Tattoo helps police capture third suspect in armed robbery - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Tattoo helps police capture third suspect in armed robbery

Posted: Updated:
Thomas Albert Brunelle Thomas Albert Brunelle

WHITFIELD COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- A distinctive face tattoo helped police identify and arrest the third suspect in an armed robbery.

Thomas Albert Brunelle was booked at the Whitfield County Jail Tuesday on armed robbery, aggravated assault, and probation violation charges.

Authorities say Brunelle and two others pushed their way into Tyler Laney's home, beat him, and took his money. Brunelle is accused of shooting Laney in the neck and leaving him for dead.

It was a typical Friday night at the Coopers' Dalton home, when trouble came knocking at the door.

"Watching cartoons on the Disney Channel, laying in the bed, and then we just got a bang at the door," Maria Cooper told Channel 3.


"As far as I was concerned, someone was trying to break into our house," added Clifton Cooper.


Clifton told the man knocking to walk to the carport, so he could get a look at him before opening the door.

That's when he came face-to-face with his neighbor, 21-year-old Tyler Laney, who had been shot in the neck.

"He was covered in blood," Clifton said. "It was all over his head, all over his face, all over his hands."

"That's when he turned around to show me the back of his head," explained Clifton, showing Channel 3 where his neighbor was shot, "He said, ‘is it bad,' and that's when I saw the actual bullet."

Laney told deputies three suspects kicked in his door, took his cell phone and cash, and then shot him in the neck.

"The one that had the gun had a clown tattooed on the side of his face," Clifton recalled his neighbor telling.

That tattoo helped deputies identify 20-year-old Thomas Brunelle.

Miller Horton, 20, and Brittany Deal, 22, are in custody.

Investigators say Deal was pretending to sell Laney a car, and knew he'd have a large amount of cash.

"I'm glad they're off the streets," Maria said relieved. "It makes you wonder what the world is coming to, to rob somebody and leave them for dead for some cash."

Clifton and Maria Cooper say their neighbor is already making plans to move.

They aren't far behind.

"I don't ever want to have my door kicked in like that," said Clifton.

Tyler Laney has been released from the hospital.

Miller Horton and Brittany Deal are charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and violation of probation, with more charges coming.

Thomas Brunelle is charged with aggravated assault, armed robbery, and violating his probation.

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