Columbia County man holds burglary suspect at gunpoint

When Michael Starnes saw someone acting suspiciously around his neighbor’s house Monday morning, he went to check things out – but he didn’t go empty-handed.

Moments later, Barnes had the man at gunpoint, holding him until Columbia County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the Jaime Drive home south of Harlem.

“He’s on the back porch, and he’s trying to break the back glass,” Starnes said of the suspect. “I held him at gunpoint and brought him back around here (to the front) and waited for the cops to show up. It’s just that simple.”

Brandon Dickens, 21, of the 400 block of Railroad Avenue, and Anita Nicole Williams, 23, of the 300 block of Newmantown Road – both of Grovetown – were charged with criminal attempt to commit burglary.

Starnes’ neighbor Keneth Straughn was away baby-sitting his grandchildren about 9:30 a.m., when Starnes saw a sport utility vehicle pull up and a man walk up Straughn’s long driveway.

Williams was in the SUV with a 2-year-old, sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.

Starnes said he went over to let the man know his neighbor wasn’t home, but took his gun along.

When he didn’t find the stranger on the porch, Starnes said, he went to the back and found the man trying to break into the home.

“We’ve got a good neighborhood watch,” Starnes said. “We watch out for each other’s place when we know somebody’s not home. They do the same for me when I’m not home.”

Straughn said he is relieved the man didn’t get into the house and thankful his neighbor was so quick to act.

“I’m glad, really glad,” Straughn said. “Everybody ought to do it. Everybody ought to tote a gun in the house.”

Dickens and Williams, who also faces a charge of second-degree cruelty to children, were booked into the Columbia County Detention Center late Monday.

No bond amount was immediately available.

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