Fleeing thief nailed by determined store manager
Rick Wilson, who manages a hardware store and has spent four years fighting insurgents in combat zones, clung to the car as the man tried to escape.
He was messing around with the high-end nail guns Tuesday afternoon at an Everett hardware store.
That caught the eye of Rick Wilson, manager at Manor Hardware and Construction Supply on Rucker Avenue.
Wilson was on the phone with a customer, but he knew something was up, he said Wednesday.
He peered through the gaps in the shelving between him and the man. He saw something strange -- a distinctive red cylinder, part of a $400 nail gun that should have been in its packaging.
That particular model is only used by finish carpenters, Wilson said Wednesday.
"The red cylinder stuck out like a sore thumb," he said.
The man then started skirting the perimeter of the store, heading toward the exit, Wilson said. He had a strange lump under his sweater.
Wilson wasn't ready to part with his merchandise.
He followed the man outside and stood in front of the man's car, putting his hands on the hood, he said. Wilson said he wouldn't call police if the man gave the nail gun back. The man played dumb but eventually volunteered to come back inside.
The funny business didn't stop there.
After a few minutes, the man ran back to his car, ripped the license plates off and tried to drive away, Wilson said.
Wilson wasn't having it. He's a first sergeant for an Army Reserve psychological operations unit and has spent four of the past seven years in combat zones fighting insurgents.
He really doesn't like thieves, he said.
Wilson reached in the man's car and grabbed the steering wheel, trying to get to the keys or get the car out of gear. The man drove off. Wilson held on tight as the car swerved down Rucker, nearly crashing into several other vehicles and pedestrians.
Wilson kept his legs raised so he wouldn't be swept under the wheels.
"It was quite the little obstacle course out there," he said.
At one point, the car was heading in reverse, pedal to the metal, into oncoming traffic.
Wilson knew he risked death if the car crashed and he was launched into the roadway by the impact.
"I said, 'It's now or never,' " he said,
He gave the wheel a hard shove, causing the car to veer. Other drivers pulled in close, helping to block and stop the thief's car.
The man tried to run, but Wilson and others wrestled him down. A salesman from a nearby business grabbed some duct tape. The crowd used it to truss up the thief until police arrived.
The suspect, Gary J. Sargent, 28, of Lynnwood, was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of second-degree robbery. His bail was set Wednesday at $25,000.
Back at the store, Wilson had some bruises and cuts to his muscular frame. Some of the dings were from his wild ride. The robber also landed a few punches.
Wilson's wife was a little upset with him Tuesday night, but he was more sore than seriously injured, he said.
He brought the $400 nail gun back in the store. He doesn't understand why the man didn't just give up the goods.
"I just don't like thieves," he said. "It could have ended simple, but he chose the other path."
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; email@example.com.
(Video courtesy of KIRO-TV, Channel 7.)
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