‘If I had my gun I would have taken him out.’
Police reports of an assault in Erwin show that a local man may have prevented the situation from being worse when he came to the aid of an elderly lady.
Erwin resident Charles Branham, 55, went into action when he heard a lady screaming for help outside Erwin’s Dollar General late Saturday afternoon. He was waiting in a vehicle outside in a nearly full parking lot while his wife shopped inside the store. He said the screams were coming from the side of the building where the lady had parked.
“I couldn’t see her but I could hear her screaming and asking someone to call the police,” Mr. Branham said. He saw a black male standing over an elderly lady, physically assaulting her while stealing her purse.
Mr. Branham said when he ran over to help, the suspect left.
“By the time I got there, he had just vanished,” Mr. Branham said. “ He had to have been on a bicycle or he had a getaway car waiting for him.”
An employee of Dollar General called police who were quickly on the scene. Mr. Branham said he was prepared to do whatever necessary to stop the attack.
“I worked for the Department of Corrections so I have some law enforcement under my belt,” Mr. Branham said. “If I had my gun I would have taken him out. I just wish I could have gotten there before he hurt her.”
Mr. Branham said he saw a suspect similar to the one in the Dollar General attack lurking around the back of the Erwin Carlie C’s IGA store. He informed Carlie C’s management about the suspicious activity. He said the suspect had disappeared when management went to look for him.
He said he fears for the safety of his wife and other women.
“I have been here 21 years and it has never been this bad,” he said. “It has gotten to the point where women can’t even go outside in Erwin. It is pretty sad when an elderly lady can’t go shopping in broad daylight.”
Police reports indicated the assault suspect could not be seen on surveillance tapes.
Several teenagers in nearby Al Woodall Park also couldn’t provide more information.
Erwin Police Chief Bill Morris said there has been no arrest in the case which is now at the top of his priority list.
“We have been interviewing witnesses and chasing down leads,” Chief Morris said. “We are working on it.”
Chief Morris said the victim’s family asked that she not be identified. He said she is being treated for serious injuries at an area trauma center.
“She is hurt pretty badly,” Chief Morris said.
The Erwin Police Department is asking for the public’s help in solving the crime. The suspect is described as a thin, black male, who is approximately 30 years old.
Anyone with information is asked to call the police department at 910-897-5122. Story by the Daily Record