MACON — The case of the footprints that did not appear in the snow helped police decide that a Macon bartender who claimed he was robbed at gunpoint had instead taken the money himself.
Sworn statements from the Macon County Sheriff’s Office said detectives were called to the Finish Line bar just after 11 a.m. Monday to find Forrest Bunning lying in the walk-in cooler. His sister had earlier alerted police after discovering Bunning bound with duct tape at the ankles and with his hands bound behind his back.
The 41-year-old bartender was still tied up and lying on his back when police arrived. He told them he had been taking garbage out the back of the building when he was accosted by two men, one of them armed with a semiautomatic handgun.
“Bunning indicated the two forced him back inside, at gunpoint and had him empty the contents of the cash register, $255, and the contents of the safe (at least $250),” the sworn statements say.
“Bunning advised they searched him as well and removed ‘about $850,’ ” and he showed police the turned-out lining on his right front pants’ pocket.
But when officers checked the snowfall outside they found only two sets of footprints, and one set matched Bunning. “Neither set of footprints left the area of the back porch of the business or Dumpster area,” the statements added. “And they only showed a clear path from the business to the Dumpster and back. There were no footprints in the alley or in the snow-covered grass around the business.”
Police also allege Bunning’s story came further adrift as they questioned him about the alleged robbery and he was fuzzy on details and “did not appear to be upset about being held at gunpoint.” Area video surveillance showed Bunning only entering the bar and no one else.
“It is apparent that statements made by Bunning were not consistent with what was observed on scene,” the statements claim. Police also say they realize Bunning must have had an accomplice, but the identity of that person is unknown.
Bunning remained in the Macon County Jail on Tuesday in lieu of $2,000 bond. He is charged with theft, obstructing justice and filing a false police report.