VCU students chase alleged thief, leads to arrest

Posted at 6:14 PM, Apr 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-19 18:46:23-04

[ooyala code=”BiZzdpNDoVFXU4EhqQ_tIpxw5UtwRp4K”]RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) Students chased and captured an alleged thief on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, and when police arrived it turned out the man already had an outstanding warrant and was a suspect in several other campus larcenies.

Around 2:30 p.m. a suspect sprinted out of the Life Sciences Building at VCU with citizens chasing after him, according to two students who witnessed the event and captured it on video.

The two journalism students, Zachary Holden and Nicolas Nightingale, happened to be on campus working on a project about daylight crime at VCU.

The suspect, Kevin M. Wheeler, 33, has no fixed address, said Mike Porter, VCU’s Media Relations director. Wheeler was charged today with larceny, trespassing and possession of a syringe.

Porter said that Wheeler entered the lab and attempted to steal a purse. Students ran after him and eventually surrounded him while one student phoned police.

It wasn’t the first time that VCU has had reports involving the suspect, said Porter. Wheeler is suspected in several campus larcenies, he said.

Nightingale said that his raw video shows Wheeler searching his pockets and then walking over to the trash can, where he dumps something.

“I was walking, when two gentlemen brushed right past me, screaming, ‘Stop that guy, stop that guy,” said Yash Barot. He witnessed Wheeler tossing what he said was likely the syringe into the trash, and then saw Wheeler’s arrest.

The two students are part of a VCU journalism class that uses iPads for reporting.

“It was a moment of luck, doing a story on daytime crime,” said Nightingale. He was standing out front of the VCU gym on Cary Street when he and Holden spotted people running after Wheeler shouting, “Thief.”

“We were in the right place at the right time,” said Holden, and he noted how “crazy and coincidental,” the event was.“Being in this class has got me more prepared to record using my cellphone or Ipad,” said Holden.

“I am very pleased to see that they immediately pulled out the iPad and captured the scene,” said Dr. Marcus Messner, who obtained a grant to teach the communication’s class at VCU.

In fact, it looks like this might have just earned them an “A.”