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Mom, son arrested at Eau Claire Walmart in loose dog, shoplifting, karate caper

Just another night in Wisconsin: Police say Lisa Smith busted out some karate moves while her son got naked and ran down a cop with a scooter.

Just another night in Wisconsin: Police say Lisa Smith busted out some karate moves while her son got naked and ran down a cop with a scooter. Associated Press

Lisa Smith and her dog Bo arrived at an Eqau Claire Walmart. She turned Bo loose, then started pacing through the aisles, filling her cart.

Someone called Eau Claire police to report what they could best describe as a “theft in progress.”

By the time they arrived, Smith was standing in the store entryway, trying to catch her dog and “screaming.” When staff asked her to leave, she walked a few yards into the parking lot and started to, as the Eau Claire Police Department’s Facebook post puts it, “perform karate moves.” A spokesperson says it amounted mostly to a lot of kicking the air and attracting a lot of attention.

It turns out, Smith and Bo hadn’t come to Walmart alone. While she was storming the aisles, her son, 25-year-old Benny Vann, was elsewhere in the store, taking off his clothes. After exposing himself to several shoppers, he started to replace his discarded garments with new ones off the racks. According to police, he “did not purchase” these items, and he attempted to run down a cop with a scooter when they tried to stop him.

Police are unsure where the scooter came from, whether it was his or Walmart’s. Either way, officers finally managed to wrangle it and get Vann to a stop.

Not to be outdone, Bo the dog grabbed a box of Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix in his mouth and tried to leave the store.

Officers arrested Smith for disorderly conduct, but not without her trying to kick out the window of the squad car. Vann was arrested for “lewd and lascivious behavior, disorderly conduct, and retail theft.” Bo was not charged, because he’s a dog.

Local and national news made hay of the incident, speculating on whether Smith and Vann were “on crack,” stir-crazy from the long winter, or disabled in some way. The department spokesperson stuck to the facts. It was difficult to determine where mother and son were at mentally, or if substances of any kind were involved. They weren’t making much sense.

If anything, police say the story demonstrates what it's like for an Eau Claire cop on an unusual but not unheard of night: Dodging karate kicks, chasing nude men on scooters, and trying to stop a dog from eating nine ounces of powdered cornbread.

Smith and Vann are due in court on May 23.