Thursday, October 29, 2009

Teen helped catch fugitive and protect a restaurant full of people

On Tuesday, we presented a very brave young man with the Police Department's Certificate of Appreciation. Here is his story:

Rodney Simpson was just expecting to bring his girlfriend some dinner the night of July 19, 2009, but he ended up negotiating with a fugitive and protecting dozens of people from harm.

Earlier that evening, Leawood police discovered a stolen car in the Wal-Mart parking lot near 135th Street and State Line Road. Kansas City Police came to assist and found stolen guns and drugs inside the stolen car. When the two occupants of the stolen car – a man and a woman – exited Wal-Mart, they saw police, and the man fled on foot. He ran to the nearby Hardee’s and into the women’s restroom.

Mr. Simpson was not aware any of this had occurred as he drove at about 8 p.m. to bring food to his girlfriend, who worked at the Hardee’s. He did see several police on nearby roads and the police helicopter overhead and figured they were looking for someone. When he entered the Hardee’s, he heard screaming by the restrooms and saw female Hardee’s employees yelling at the man they’d found in the women’s restroom. They were screaming at him to get out. Mr. Simpson immediately walked up to the ruckus. The suspect raised both fists and prepared to fight him, but Mr. Simpson told the suspect to calm down. The suspect told Mr. Simpson that he had to make the Hardee’s employees stop yelling at him, because if Mr. Simpson didn’t, than the suspect would.

Mr. Simpson quickly calmed everyone down and began talking with the suspect. The suspect told Mr. Simpson the police were looking for him and offered Mr. Simpson money to drive him away from the area. The suspect asked to use a cell phone, and Mr. Simpson lent him his. He convinced the suspect to go back in the restroom. Mr. Simpson told him police were everywhere, and it would be best to just lock himself in the bathroom until the area was clear.

After Mr. Simpson persuaded the suspect to go back into the restroom, he convinced all of the customers and employees to evacuate the restaurant. Once everyone was safely outside, Mr. Simpson called 911 and flagged down nearby police officers. Police took the convicted felon into custody without incident and found a loaded handgun in the bathroom stall he’d been hiding in.

Major Cheryl Rose said that although he is just 18 years old, Mr. Simpson’s quick thinking and bravery undoubtedly kept a situation from becoming violent. And Captain Michael Perne said, “Mr. Simpson’s courage goes far beyond what most people in his situation would have done. He put the safety of the other citizens before his own and should be commended.”