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Columbia County man holds burglary suspect at gunpoint

Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 8:34 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 2:11 AM
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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.

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Columbia County deputies talk to Donald Newberry (center) and Michael Starnes at a home on Jaime Drive where Starnes caught a burglar trying to break into a neighbor's home.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Columbia County deputies talk to Donald Newberry (center) and Michael Starnes at a home on Jaime Drive where Starnes caught a burglar trying to break into a neighbor's home.

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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copperhead 02/28/12 - 07:35 am
This must have been one of

This must have been one of the well-trained guns. It didn't just start wounding and killing people on it's own. Hurray for well-trained guns and honest people possessing them!

urright 02/28/12 - 10:31 am
Good job, Mr. Starnes!

Good job, Mr. Starnes!

PghSteelersFan 02/28/12 - 01:16 pm
While it is good that the

While it is good that the burglar was caught, it is very dangerous to confront one face to face. That man could have had a gun too and the results could have been tragically different. Neighborhood Watch programs teach to 'observe from a distance so as not to be in harms way, write down descriptions of person(s), car type and color, and if possible without getting too close get license plate numbers, then contact the police'.
While you don't want your neighbor's house broken into, you should think first about your own safety. Losing a TV set is nothing compared to losing your life. Gathering information to assist the police is a much better and safer alternative. Playing vigilante only leads to trouble.

logansmom1023 02/28/12 - 04:57 pm
PghSteelersFan while I do

PghSteelersFan while I do understand your position, as the wife of the man who caught the burglar I just wanted to say my husband was NOT "playing vigilante" our neighbors are elderly people with disabilites. My husband served in the US ARMY for 13 years and is a veteran of Desert Storm, Bosnia, and Iraq and by no means was he gonna stand by and "watch" someone break into our neighbors house without doing anything. He is just not that kind of person. Not only did he serve our country but he also serves his community!!!!

TParty 02/28/12 - 05:32 pm
Well done, good neighbors. If

Well done, good neighbors. If only the majority of Americans were observant and pro-active.

dstewartsr 02/28/12 - 05:36 pm
Yeah, logansmom, don't

Yeah, logansmom, don't bother: Steelerfan would be the one crying the loudest if a neighbor had idly watched his home be burglarized. This is the kind of individual who makes crimes possible; hiding in their houses behind drawn curtains, they see nothing and tell even less when police arrive.

seenitB4 02/28/12 - 06:27 pm
Way to go logansmom....he did

Way to go logansmom....he did the right thing....

Now if south Richmond county would get a clue.....this is what you are lacking.....when you SEE something SAY something .....& keep saying it til you get some help from the commish/gov.

pigsfly 03/01/12 - 01:28 pm
logansmom. I for one want to

logansmom. I for one want to thank your husband for being there to help Mr.& Mrs. Straughan. My grandson is also one of the children they watch. I am so glad they were not home at the time, and also that they have someone who not only is a hero in the eyes of America but also a hero in my eyes. If other people would look out for each other like this then the world would be a much better place.

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