Skip to comments.'Bat man' stops crash suspect; Arizona
Posted on 03/22/2002 6:29:41 AM PST by SpookBrat
Be a good citizen. Do the right thing. Never turn your back on responsibility.
A father spoke those words to a young son. And decades later, when Doug Click saw the speeding dump truck flip and the wild-eyed man jump out and run, he remembered them.
"That guy had already done crazy stuff, endangered people, and I worried he might hijack a car," Click, 37, said hours after helping police arrest a truck-theft suspect. "So I ran after him, told him to just lay down on the ground."
Click, a cage fighter and son of former Phoenix Assistant Police Chief Bennie Click, ran down the suspect and repeatedly whacked him with an aluminum bat after the suspect refused to stop fleeing and instead hit back.
Police say Kenneth Ray Thomas, 38, who has a rap sheet dating back two decades, stole a 13-ton dump truck early Thursday, then eluded police through the streets of Phoenix for nearly 45 minutes, blowing through red lights, weaving in and out of traffic, running vehicles off the road and hitting a sedan.
Employees at Rental Services, 21445 N. 27th Ave., discovered the dump truck was missing when they arrived for work Thursday morning. Kim Edwards, company spokeswoman, said whoever stole the dump truck drove it through a fence, taking down 80 feet of it. The thief also tried to steal a trailer, but it got hung up in the fencing, she said.
"We are just grateful nobody was seriously injured," Edwards said.
Police spotted the dump truck speeding erratically, and television cameras broadcast the wild ride through Phoenix.
At 18th Avenue and Camelback Road, police say, Thomas swerved to hit a patrol car but missed, then overcorrected and caused a minor crash. Shortly after, at Central Avenue and Bethany Home Road, he ran a red light and hit the front end of a Ford Thunderbird with two adults and three small children inside.
"Thank God that he only clipped the front end of it," Phoenix police Detective Tony Morales said. "Had he hit further back than that, we would have had a catastrophic collision."
The dump truck then slammed into a pole, flew into the air and landed on its side.
Click, who owns a rental business, was heading for coffee when he saw the truck hit the Ford and careen into the pole.
"I thought he must be dead," Click said.
But the man not only jumped out through the broken windshield and ran, he also refused Click's orders to lie down. Instead, the suspect pulled something metal from his shirt.
"If it had been a gun, I'd have got away from him, but it was a pair of bolt cutters and he swung them at me," Click said. In his hand was a small aluminum bat he keeps in his vehicle.
"I used my elbow to block the blow from bolt cutters," Click said, holding his left arm up to display a small bruise on his elbow. "Then I moved inside and whacked him on the leg with the bat, then snatched him up and hit him in the head with the bat a couple times. Then I took him to the ground and hit him in the head a few more times."
Click shook his head. He is a veteran martial artist who has often fought in bruising, full-contact tournaments and in "cage fights," where nobody pulls a punch.
"Weirdest thing," he mused. "I hardly fazed the guy. He was still fighting, and that's when the cops came up and I moved back, just stood still because I knew they didn't know who I was or what was going on. Then they piled on and subdued him."
Police accused Thomas of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, aggravated assault on a police officer, burglary, theft of a means of transportation, possession of burglary tools, fleeing police, resisting arrest and criminal damage.
State Department of Corrections records show Thomas has served prison time for theft, fleeing from a law vehicle and marijuana violations. While in prison, he was disciplined 74 times from 1983 to 1997 for such offenses as fighting, possessing contraband and narcotics, setting a fire and giving/receiving tattoos. He was released a year ago.
Click's father, Bennie, who left Phoenix in 1993 and served as the Dallas police chief until January 2000, said Thursday from his northern Arizona home that Doug was the only one of his four children who didn't become an officer.
"I'm proud of him," Bennie said, "but never in 35 years of law enforcement would I have advised a citizen to get involved in something like this. It's too dangerous."
Morales said police don't know what would have happened had Doug Click not helped out. Officers were "quite a ways back" from Thomas when he crashed the dump truck. Would he have hijacked another vehicle? Would he have run into the neighborhood?
"We, as a police department, would urge the public to use caution any time they encounter a situation such as this. You never know what could happen," Morales said. "But we certainly appreciate the public's help, and we are not going to discourage them from trying to help us."
Click said "life has been pretty wild" since the incident. He has done numerous media interviews and flew to New York on Thursday night to appear this morning on Today.
"It's a lot of attention, but I didn't do what I did for attention," he said. "I did what I did because that man might have hurt others, and I believe we all have a responsibility to help other people and not run away.
"So I didn't run away. I stayed and tried to help."
PS: This is my very first time to post an arcticle. Everyone go easy on me please. :)
(For those of you who weren't around in 99 or earlier, its an inside joke).
I am glad to bump this to encourage others to stand up to those who do evil.
Sounds like the perp got pinged...
Sounds to me like he was mentally deranged or on drugs.
Am I allowed to stow a baseball bat in my car?
Batting practice during spring training is always fun to watch.....
Sounds like Sammy Sousa's got another challenger this year!
I just re-read this thoroughly. The footage showed the entire thing, and I didn't see this. Both men were still standing when the cops got there and grabed them. If the guy had "bolt cutters" they were the size of an average pair of pliers. Did anyone else see this on t.v.? Does anyone remember seeing it happen like Click says? Is he exaggerating?