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The dirt-encrusted five pound weight was just there in an alley, no telling for how long. Donald Russell picked it up almost without thinking.
Now, it’s a keepsake, a memory of the strange events of Jan. 18.
Russell, a partner in Chuck Town Homes real estate agency, and associate Jeremy Wilson would chase after an alleged violent crime suspect near their Savannah Highway office. Russell would corner the suspect -– a homeless man who allegedly had entered a car wielding a pocket knife and demanded a ride from a woman driver.
Both Wilson and Russell acknowledge that this was out of the ordinary. But they’re also aware that fellow brokers weren’t all that surprised: things like this just seem to happen to them.
They had arrived about 9-10 a.m. at the office on the corner of Daniel Street and Savannah Highway. Wilson was heading out for an appointment when he passed another truck and something caught his eye. The woman driver appeared distraught. He backed up. She was talking, apparently to police, on her cell phone. A witness from another store said he heard the woman say a guy had jumped in her truck and “he had a knife.”
Wilson says he called Russell on his cell phone and told him what he heard. “When I saw Jeremy, I said, ‘What happened?’ Wilson told him the man apparently had run into an alley behind the offices.
Russell set out on foot to try to track down the assailant. He says he realized later that he could have called 911 instead of chasing a suspect who supposedly had a knife. Wilson, meanwhile, headed west along Savannah Highway.
Russell, emboldened after finding the weight, traveled streets on the edge of Byrnes Downs and the city greenway, eventually winding up aside a bushy area along Coburg Road.
“I just happened to see him,” Russell says. “He was crouched down. I yelled, ‘Hey, get out of here.”
The man replied, “No. I’m homeless.”
That set in motion what could be described as a slow speed chase. After various feints and starts, Russell eventually shadowed the suspect as he crossed the Harris-Teeter parking lot.
He phoned Wilson. “I got him,” Russell recalls saying. “Jeremy thought I was joking.”
Soon after, police arrived and subdued the suspect. According to court records, he was charged with kidnapping and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Russell says he never saw a weapon.
ChuckTown Homes opened five years ago, and the partners, which also includes Shawn Pillion, moved to the current office at 845-B Savannah Highway a couple of years ago. The website is www.chucktownhomes.com.
“We did 65 closings last year,” Russell says.
They even did some post-chase work. “I gave (business) cards to a couple of the cops,” Wilson says.
In retrospect, Russell says he should have called police but he doesn’t question his actions. “Too many people now run away from stuff,” he says.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.