Neighbors nab prowler in Union Township
Jim Cain said he didn't hesitate to grab his gun and spring into action when he saw a suspicious man lurking around his neighbor's house in Union Township.
Cain, with the help of his neighbor Dwayne Zenobi, is being credited for helping police apprehend a suspect and prevent a possible burglary.
According to Southwest Regional Police, officers were called to an unoccupied home Sunday night at 6055 Route 88, where Cain and Zenobi were holding Jed Shoemaker of Finleyville at gunpoint.
Cain said he went outside around 11:30 p.m. to have a cigarette when he saw a two-toned pickup truck pull into the parking lot across the street.
The driver turned off its lights. That's when Cain saw the driver walk toward the unoccupied house owned by John Hickey. He said the house was damaged when a vehicle crashed into it earlier this year and damaged the foundation.
“I saw him walk around a bush and then go behind a pine tree,” Cain said. “I knew something wasn't right.”
Cain called Zenobi, and the men grabbed their guns.
Cain said they found the suspect – later identified as Shoemaker – on a side porch.
“We told him to freeze and stay there,” Cain said.
Held at gunpoint, Shoemaker asked the men what kind of guns they were carrying and said he stopped at the house because he ran out of gas, Cain recalled.
“I got the gun pointing to the back of his head, and he's asking me these questions,” Cain said. “I thought it was weird.”
The men walked Shoemaker back to his truck to wait for police.
Southwest Regional Officer Larry Storch arrived and allegedly found a claw hammer, crow bar and flashlight outside Hickey's house.
Zenobi told police Hickey would not have left tools outside, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Shoemaker, 34, of 3606 Washington Ave. later allegedly told police the tools belonged to him and that he knew the house was vacant.
He said he was going to break in to “see what was inside,” according to the affidavit.
Shoemaker is charged with possessing instruments of a crime and loitering and prowling at night.
Cain said more neighbors need to look out for each other and their property.
“You see all this stuff happening on the news, and you'll hear neighbors saying they didn't see anything,” Cain said.
“I was raised that you look out for each other. I work hard for what I have, and I'm not going to let someone steal it.”
Southwest Regional Chief John Hartman said that while he appreciates the assistance from Cain and Zenobi, and said they did “nothing wrong,” he cautioned citizens about taking police matters into their own hands.
“People have to understand that when they take that kind of step, something can go terribly wrong,” Hartman said. “We highly recommend they call police right away.”
Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.