Mark Reed aka Will Thomas' Most Wanted photo and LAPD booking photo
A Sentinel Exclusive
By Jasmyne CannickSentinel Contributing Writer
On Saturday, July 10, working with the FBI and LAPD, members of Los Angeles' Crenshaw and Coliseum Starbucks community helped to capture #10 on California's Most Wanted list, Mark R. Reed, aka Will Thomas.
Working as a local security supervisor in Los Angeles, Reed was wanted for homicide in the State of Georgia and had been recently elevated to #10 on California's Most Wanted List as a fugitive.
While doing a search on the Internet, a local resident came across Reed's photo on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's website. Reed, who went by the alias Will Thomas, was a very popular and well-known security supervisor in the Crenshaw District.
Unsure as to how to proceed, the resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, decided to confide in friends who also knew Reed from the local area Starbucks.
"I didn't know exactly what to do," explains the anonymous resident. "I mean he's a brother and we know the justice system in America hasn't always had our best interests at heart. I mean just look at Mitrice Richardson and Oscar Grant."
The group decided to reach out to LAPD Detective Venus Mason, known in the community for her willingness to listen to the community and be trustworthy.
"We went to Detective Mason first because we had very real concerns not only for our own safety as well as everyone else's who could be possibly be involved, even Will's, because you know sometimes the LAPD can get a little trigger happy," explained another member of the group who made the initial contact with Detective Mason. "They wanted to do it at his house and we were like no-he has kids."
A two-day sting was set up in the Crenshaw district that finally unfolded early Saturday afternoon when Reed pulled into the parking lot of the shopping center located at Crenshaw and Coliseum.
Reed, along with another unidentified man, was surrounded by FBI agents and the LAPD while sitting in a grey Crown Victoria in front of the Goodwill Store.
Reed was taken into custody without incident even though a gun was found in his possession.
Employees and passer-byers were in shock when the news resonated throughout the close knit community.
One Goodwill employee refused to believe even after being shown the Most Wanted photo that Reed was in fact Will Thomas.
"Naw man-you got to be kidding. Not Will."
Reed who lived in the 4200 block of Figueroa had been living in plain sight in Los Angeles since fleeing Georgia in 2006.
LAPD Detective Mason credits the community for doing the right thing and coming to officials with the information.
"When the community feels comfortable to come to the LAPD with critical information like as in this case, it helps everyone involved. While we certainly understand the resistance in wanting to come to the police, you have to look at the bigger picture. This person is wanted for a homicide. By working with the community, we were able to take him into custody without anyone being hurt in the process. That's a good thing from our viewpoint."
That's a viewpoint shared by a local mother who frequents the shopping center's Starbucks.
"I knew of him, she said. "I mean he's been around here for a long time. Always nice and well-mannered. He always spoke to me and my kids. I never would have guessed."
The popular local and close-knit Starbucks community was buzzing with the news of the arrest as customers were in shock and amazement at being told that a person on the Most Wanted List was right in their community.
Reed is considered a fugitive arrest by the LAPD and is wanted on a felony parole violation in California and in Georgia for homicide. He is expected to be extradited back to Atlanta in Dekalb County in the next week.