Next Time, Stick it in His EAR
Bystander shoots suspect during robbery at ATM
William “Don” Strickland takes his small-caliber handgun wherever he goes, just in case any criminals cross his path.
On Thursday, the former iron worker on permanent disability used it — when he saw a young woman being robbed at an ATM and the robber trying to get away.
First Strickland shot the tires of the getaway car; then he shot the man inside once in the right leg.
The robber escaped, but soon Clayton police arrested Morris Levi Stith of Clayton after Stith checked into Johnston Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound to the right leg. Stith was charged with robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, Clayton police said. Strickland probably will not be charged.
Stith complained about being shot as he hobbled into the magistrate’s office in downtown Clayton with a police escort Thursday afternoon. “It’s wrong, man,” he said.
Oh, the irony.
The incident occurred a few minutes before 9 a.m. in front of the Bank of America branch at Clayton Corners Shopping Center in the western part of town.
Rebecca Lynn Newton, 20, of Barber Mill Road in Clayton said she was about to insert an envelope containing $400 from her paycheck into the ATM slot when a man shoved her from behind and said, “I’ll take that.”
Newton spun and grabbed the unarmed man by the shirt, causing him to fall, and she started screaming.
Strickland, 35, of Four Oaks was in his car waiting for the bank to open. He said in an interview that he heard a woman scream — “Help, help, help, he’s robbing me!” — and sprang into action.
He said he “don’t get around too good” because of an injury several years ago that required four titanium rods to be inserted in his back. Still, Strickland ran to a white Chevrolet Cavalier that was backed into a parking spot.
The robber had jumped into the car, and Newton was struggling with him by the car door.
The car started moving, and Strickland hollered at the robber to stop, his North American Arms .22-caliber Magnum revolver in his hand. Then he fired twice at a rear tire.
You can tell this is not a “big-city” paper. The word “hollered” would never be seen in the New York Times unless it was a quotation.
“He still wouldn’t stop,” Strickland said. “I was standing beside the car, and he tried to run me over.
“I had my hand in the car” with the gun in it, Strickland said, “and I asked him to stop again, and he wouldn’t do it, so I shot him in the leg.“
Just a bit of advice, but if you stuck the barrel in his ear he might hear you better.
When police arrived, Strickland told them he was sure he had shot the man in the right leg, and police notified area hospitals to be on the lookout for a patient with such a wound, said Lt. Bill Newsome of the Clayton Police Department.
Officers found $360 in cash on Stith, Newsome said.
Newsome said Strickland is unlikely to be charged because he is listed as the victim of the assault. Tom Lock, the Johnston County district attorney, said a person has a right to use deadly force to resist deadly force.
And this is the South, where people aren’t punished for doing right.
“If the suspect in this case was attempting to run over a person, then that person could use deadly force to resist the assault,” Lock said.
He added that intervening in a robbery involves some risk. “No one wants to encourage vigilante justice, but I certainly can understand that a person might feel compelled to intervene when he saw a crime being committed. I might do the same thing under similar circumstances.”
Just have to get that “vigilante” word in there, don’tcha?
Strickland, who does not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, said the gun had been lying on the dash of his car.
“I don’t go to the grocery store without something today, because of things like that,” he said.
Newton, a gas station clerk who took the day off after the robbery, said Strickland is her hero.
Her fianc e,(sic) David Little, 40, said he, too, was grateful.
“I’m going to call him over the weekend and ask him what kind of steak he likes,” said Little, who moved to Clayton with his fiance e this summer from Atlanta. “I’m going to have him and his wife and kids over for dinner.”
Yup, that’s the South. I do miss it sometimes.