Whenever something happens to a police officer, not only does the entire law enforcement community respond, but citizens step in, too.
A good Samaritan did last week, stopping to render aid when Deputy Glenda Shelton was shot by a prisoner she was transporting from court back to jail. The man, whose identity hasnt been released, likely would have been shot, too, had the deputys gun not jammed.
The gun was an empty threat, but it presented a real enough danger that the man had to give up his truck to the armed inmate.
P.K. Fitzgerald of Harlem was in his kitchen when he saw the pickup a few minutes later, roaring down his rural driveway. She came up our driveway before I had heard about the shooting, Fitzgerald says. I didnt know what was up, but I could tell she was running from somebody. She turned around and went back out the drive. I ran out to my Jeep and tried to take off after her just to get a tag number. After just a short distance down the road I got the feeling that she had turned off to hide.
Fitzgeralds instincts proved correct. He told deputies about seeing the fleeing truck, and it soon was found ditched in the woods. After a massive overnight manhunt, police with bloodhounds found Tamika Bumpass hiding under brush near Fitzgeralds home.
During the long night, other citizens brought food and drinks to the law enforcement officers standing watch. The Pumpkin Center Store became a depot for assistance, as emergency personnel from virtually all area agencies swarmed in to help.
In the end, Bumpass was back in jail, facing violent-crime charges that drastically worsen the white-collar penalties already aimed at her. And police now believe she is just the tip of the iceberg: Her sister has been arrested on similar forgery charges in Tennessee, and an FBI probe is casting a multi-state net for check fraud and identity theft.
The excitement fades just as quickly as the paperwork grows. But it is gratifying that our community is ready to work together when the need arises.
Thank God, too, that Bumpass is safely behind bars, that Deputy Shelton is healing - and that no one else was hurt.
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