Created: Fri, 08 Nov 2013 10:17:00 EST
Updated: Mon, 11 Nov 2013 09:28:42 EST
Criminals take note; You're taking a chance if you try to ply your trade in the Dodge County town of Rhine. Local law enforcement is praising townspeople for some de facto community policing, after tracking down and helping catch an armed robbery suspect.
For 60-year-old Ken Lowery the commotion began around 2:30 Thursday afternoon as he stepped inside Aden's convenience store and encountered the store clerk in distress.
"The lady screamed at me and said 'I've been robbed, he's got a gun, and I gave him all the money,'" Lowery recalled.
Lowery says he saw the suspected gunman, identified as 24-year-old Damien Durham of Wilcox County, walking down the street making a nonchalant getaway. Witnesses say it was a bizarre sight, but what happened next was even more unbelievable.
"People just kept coming around and they were mad, people in Rhine were mad," Lowery said. "Here we had an armed robbery in the middle of the day at Aden's and they wanted to form a posse."
Lowery says more than 20 people, many of them armed, spread out looking for the gunman, in trucks and on foot.
"We didn't have no leader of it all, we just went all our separate ways and the people in Rhine they knew they were going to get that rascal," Lowery said.
Lowery, a retired corrections officer, ended up tracking the suspect down roughly 200 yards away from the store. He fired a warning shot from his deer rifle and says the suspect stashed his gun and money, and hid in a nearby shed, where he was soon arrested by Dodge County sheriff's deputies.
Major Donald Helms of the Dodge County Sheriff's Office says it's just a story of good guys with guns. People in a small town excerising their right to bear arms.
"You might not want to come down there and mess with the Rhine folks," Helms said.
While at least one long time Rhine resident WGXA spoke with says a stick up downtown isn't the most uncommon thing, everyone was proud of their town for coming together.
"I'm glad I stay in a town like this, Rhine is a good town," said Kayla Mitchell.
Rhine Posse member Carter Clements also had a warning to outsiders that may be up to no good.
"Don't come to Rhine and mess with us, because if you do, we're going to mess with you," Clements said.
"A nice lady like that working at Aden's, trying to make a living, and some thug come in there trying to rob her, people in Rhine ain't going to put up with that," Lowery said.
The Dodge County Sheriff's Office says Durham is charged with armed robbery, he may also be facing additional charges.