CULPEPER, Va. — Police in Culpeper are hailing three convenience store customers as heroes after they came to the rescue of a store clerk who was allegedly assaulted Monday.
Culpeper police charged a 29-year-old Broadway, Virginia man with felony abduction and misdemeanor charges of assault and battery, destruction of property, disorderly conduct and being drunk in public. Police said the ordeal started when the man apparently got into an argument at a junkyard in the southern part of the county.
The suspect, who was a passenger in a red wrecker that was towing a pickup truck, then showed up at the Horizon Food Store in the 500 block of Madison Road. That’s where the pair purchased gas and the suspect attempted to purchase a bottle of water.
However, police said an argument started between the store’s owners and the suspect about the price of the water. That promoted a “panic alarm” call to police around 12:30 p.m. from the store.
Culpeper officials said the suspect became so agitated that he started yelling at the clerks that he would prove how strong he was. Police said he then ripped the face off the store’s ATM machine, exposing wires and cutting his hands in the process.
Another female clerk ran outside to write down the license plate number of the wrecker.
The suspect then allegedly asked the woman what she thought she was doing. When she didn’t reply, police said the two got into an argument.
Police said the suspect chased the woman back into the store — and allegedly grabbed a partially full bottle of Vitamin water — and threw it at her. The woman was hit in the back.
He gave chase and eventually caught up with the woman behind the counter. Police said he allegedly knocked her down, held her to the floor and “started pounding on her.”
“He was talking incoherently and not making much sense,” said Detective Richard Brooking, who was one of the first officers on the scene.
As officers arrived, they found three customers pinning the suspect to the floor. Police said the trio kept him down until the officers were able to handcuff him and take him into custody.
“The victim and the community owe these three citizens a debt of gratitude for assisting the clerk,” said Culpeper Police Chief Chris Jenkins in a news release. “They are to be commended for risking personal injury to help someone who could have faced serious injury if the assault had continued.”
Police said the clerk who was tackled and beaten was injured in the altercation. However, the other clerk was not injured.
Police said they do not know why the suspect was “acting so strangely.”