IL--Don't Prosecute Bob Buttrum for Catching a Thief!


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Don Gwinn
July 16, 2004, 03:24 PM
I received this from John's mailing list at www.concealcarry.org yesterday. The State's Attorney's office number again is 1-618-244-8025. From the reaction when I called, I'm certain they're getting calls from people asking them to prosecute Buttrum. There's some speculation in the email that the local NAACP chapter is leaning on the SA office because Buttrum is white and the "victim" who stole the gas is black. I don't see how that could possibly be a racial issue unless Buttrum allows white people to steal from him.

Before anyone starts, yes, what he did was tactically ill-advised and technically violates Illinois law. But if you don't want to see the man go to jail for it, please make a call.



It just keeps getting better in Illinois. First it's Hale Demar protecting his home and family in Wilmette prosecuted. Now we have downstater Mr. Bob Buttrum about to get a taste of liberal justice.

Bob owns a convenience store in Jefferson County. This county is so backwards they don't even have a web site. For that very reason some would say that makes Jeff' County an idyllic place . But guess you have to scratch the surface to see what lies below.

Back on May 26th Bob's store was robbed of gasoline. You know, fill the tank and split. But Bob's store is called "Midway Mart" not "Rob and Run."

Bob can't afford to lose profits this way and heck, stealing is just plain wrong. So Bob gave chase in his truck and finally stopped the vehicle and held the perpetrator by brandishing his gun in his general direction (that is pronounced DYE-wreck-SHUN down south.)

The sheriffs came and arrested 18 year old Larry Mitchell for theft of services. Now common sense would tell you that Bob would get a citizen's citation for his work - and that criminals would get the word that it just isn't safe for them to do business in Jefferson County in general and at Bob's Midway Mart in particular.

But this is Illinois, not the real world. Reliable sources inform me that Bob will likely be indicted by the Jefferson County Grand Jury on July 22d probably on felony unlawful use of weapons charges. Our sources tell us the sudden motivation for this move by Jefferson County State's Attorney Gary Duncan is mounting pressure from the local NAACP. You see the perpetrator is black and they feel young Mr. Mitchell was singled out by Bob based on race. Or so the NAACP do say. As if a white guy could drive into Bob's and pump free gas. But this is the NAACP mentality so, like a woman's mind, there is no fathoming it.

We are watching this case closely and will report to you if the indictment is handed down. If it is, well I think the Jefferson County courthouse is going to get a little visit. Probably from both gun owners and NAACP supporters. This could be the next three ring circus to hit the county seat of Mt. Vernon, IL.

But what is important is that as gun owners we have to stick together. When you arrest one gun owner, you arrest all gun owners.

Further, there is a long tradition that what happens north of I-80 gun rights-wise is handled by Concealed Carry, Inc. South of I-80 belongs to the Champaign County Rifle Association. I expect to follow their lead should an indictment be forthcoming. In a perfect world the I$RA would cough up the legal dollars, but I haven't seen them ever put out a dime to help a gun owner. Let's hope this case will be different should it come down to it.

You know I expect crap like this from Cook County and even the collar counties. But when southern Illinois gets this way, you have to wonder if the whole state shouldn't just be renamed "PENAL COLONY 5348B." I really need to go to a re-education camp as I am flumoxed by this situation. I need some liberal to 'splain it to me.

For those itching to make a difference now....you know, those of you who love to make phone calls to make politician uncomfortable, State's Attorney Gary Duncan phone number is 618 244-8025 and his personal cellular phone (We have our sources you see but the phone is only taking messages now....I wonder why?) is 618 214-2157.

I really think we could all save a lot of time and trouble if we gave Bob a citizenship award and not a trial. If you call SA Duncan be polite, short, to the point. He has not pulled the judicial trigger on Bob yet so let's hope the light of reason shines between now and next week.

The original reporting on this appears below.

NOTE TO OUR SUPPORTERS: Balanced the check book today. We have $451 dollars in the old bank and dropping. If anyone has recently won the lottery or still has a job and is feeling generous of spirit feel free to click on the PayPal or Amsoil links above or simply mail huge envelopes stuffed with cash (no questions asked) to:

Concealed Carry, Inc.
PO BOX 4597
Oak Brook IL 60522-4597

I'll be holding a vigil at the PO BOX....


Taking matters into his own hands
May 27 2004 12:00AM By

By MARY KAYE DAVIS
marykaye@register-news.com
http://www.zwire.com/news/newsstory.cfm?newsid=11809256&BRD=987&PAG=461

BLUFORD — Midway Mart owner Bob Buttrum has seen his fair share of shoplifters and people pumping gas, then driving off without paying.
Late Wednesday morning, it happened again.
Around 11:30 a.m., a black Blazer pulled into his gas station/convenience store on Illinois 15 near Markham City Road and a man got out and starting pumping gasoline.
“He started acting really suspicious and nervous,” Buttrum said. “He would look in the windows of the store and then look down. I turned to my friends in the store and said, ‘Boys, I think he’s getting ready to steal some gas.”
No sooner did he get those words out when he saw the man drop the gas hose and speed out of the parking lot, his vehicle spinning gravel into the air, Buttrum said.
Buttrum called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, but was told it didn’t have a squad car in the area.
While most store owners probably would have just thrown up their hands, Buttrum and his two friends took a different route; they jumped in their vehicles and chased the man down.
Armed with cell phones and, in Buttrum’s case, a 9 mm pistol, the three men also sped out of the parking lot and headed south down Markham City Road.
Buttrum said another friend in town, who was standing outside during the chase, estimated the Blazer was traveling about 70 to 90 mph down the road.
“The people in the Blazer were throwing things out of the vehicle left and right as they were heading down the road,” Buttrum said. Finally, one of Buttrum’s friends was able to pass the Blazer and blocked it in. Buttrum and the other friend caught up and did the same.
“At that point, I got out of my vehicle and let the four guys know I did have a gun,” Buttrum said. “I really didn’t know what I was getting into because I knew one of them also had something in their hand, but I couldn’t tell what it was because the windows were all tinted. I ordered the person to put it down, but they were too busy acting crazy, mouthing off and yelling” profanity, the business owner said. “I called the sheriff’s department back and told them I had a gun and I was holding them at bay until someone could arrive.”
Buttrum told the vehicle’s occupants to show what they had in their hands. It turned out to be a cell phone.
The sheriff’s department arrested Larry Mitchell, 18, of 3805 Robin Drive, Mt. Vernon, at 2:22 p.m. Wednesday on a charge of theft of services, a sheriff’s department spokesman said. His bond was set at $1,000; he posted bond and was released.
The three other occupants in the Blazer have not been charged.
Buttrum said even small thefts can drive a small business into the ground, and he wasn’t going to let it happen again.
“Most owners just blow stuff like this off, but I can’t and I won’t,” Buttrum said.
The store owner said he makes about $30 to $35 profit a day on gas sales, working a 14-hour day, and he wasn’t going to let those profits just drive off.
“I’m just tired of it,” the businessman said. “People are running all over small stores. You read in the paper every day that someone drives off without paying for gasoline, but how many times do you read about them catching the person. We just wanted (the thieves) to know that even though we’re a small store about 10 miles out, we’re not going to put up with this kind of stuff. Hopefully, people will get the point.”


I believe this would be felony UUW. Jeff can probably tell us more about that, but I don't know how involved he will want to be. This is not very far from his jurisdiction.

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Preacherman
July 17, 2004, 10:24 PM
This is worth a bump. I'm not in Illinois, but for those of us who are, this deserves your time and attention, IMHO...

Standing Wolf
July 17, 2004, 10:58 PM
You read in the paper every day that someone drives off without paying for gasoline, but how many times do you read about them catching the person.

We should read about that a lot more often.

Pilgrim
July 18, 2004, 01:18 AM
Maybe twenty or twenty five years ago a gas station owner and tow truck operator in Kettleman City, CA, gave chase to a gasoline thief. His body was found later in the cab of his pickup truck. To the best of my knowledge the murderer has never been identified.

Pilgrim

Josey
July 18, 2004, 02:19 AM
Have I got this right? A guy steals some gas. NO weapon, no endangerment of life and of little monetary loss. TWO people jump in TWO vehicles an initiate a 90 MPH THREE vehicle chase on a interstate? The drivers, passengers and the general public were endangered, there was a vehicle (suspects) boxed in and a firearm brought into play as a threat. Do I have this right? I feel that ALL involved should be sitting in jail. Three drivers should lose their licenses. Mr. Buttram (you cannot MAKE this stuff up) should spend a few years in the state pen. I have no sympathy for any of those IDIOTS.

mrapathy2000
July 18, 2004, 02:57 AM
no endangerment of life and of little monetary loss

not much of a life without a job or business. not much of a small business if you keep losing "little monetary losses"

those losses add up for rural small businesses.

no cops,sherrifs and highway patroll half hour or hour away providing they are not busy.

one way I see it as vigilantism. the other I think they are justified. no one upholds the law or looks out for your interest maybe you should take a stand.

small business owner pays for gas. gas goes into large tank. non paying customer comes pulls gas n go. small business owners property is in that car I think he has every right to chase them down get what is his specially in public. maybe even go into private property. especially when no Law enforcemant is around to enforce the law.

similar to Bail Bonds. guy in jail calls bail bondsman gets bail paid released to custody of bail bondsman. you run bondsman sends his bail enforcers after you. they can go anywhere the man released on bail is why. cause he is in theyre custody. conditions of release.

why shouldnt the gas station owner/worker be able to go where his stolen merchandise is ?

mussi
July 18, 2004, 07:25 PM
I've once seen an interesting solution to that problem in the Ukraine.

You drove into the gas station, and when you were pumping, a row of spikes in front and behind the vehile would rise so that trying to flee would result in deflated tires. Seems to have solved the problem quite well

CEShooter
July 18, 2004, 07:46 PM
Good for this guy. If the cops won't or more than likely are unable to act in such a situation then good for the average Joe standing up to these waste's of space. Is someone had been hurt in this chase then yep, nail the store owner's arse to the wall. It's the same responsibility we take as gun owners when we choose to fire upon someone threating our lives. But no one was hurt so he successfully made sure a criminal will get what's coming to him so he's a hero. Often the line between hero and idiot is the width of a hair and dose of good luck. Crime will never decrease until the average Joe starts to fight back and have a zero-tolerance policy on crimes against a person.

Jeff White
July 18, 2004, 10:11 PM
This happened one county South of me. Funny but this is the first I've heard about it, but then I've been on a cycle where I'm either working or sleeping for the past couple weeks.

First off, taking the case to the Grand Jury may provide the states attorney political cover from the NAACP. He could easily file the charges himself. In fact I would almost bet that this is what's going on.

I'm not so sure that this would be felony UUW. If you look in the Illinois Compiled Statutes, a private citizen can use the same force a peace officer can to effect an arrest:

(720 ILCS 5/7‑6) (from Ch. 38, par. 7‑6)
Sec. 7‑6. Private person's use of force in making arrest.
(a) A private person who makes, or assists another private person in making a lawful arrest is justified in the use of any force which he would be justified in using if he were summoned or directed by a peace officer to make such arrest, except that he is justified in the use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm only when he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another.
(b) A private person who is summoned or directed by a peace officer to assist in making an arrest which is unlawful, is justified in the use of any force which he would be justified in using if the arrest were lawful, unless he knows that the arrest is unlawful.
(Source: Laws 1961, p. 1983.)

The statute on Unlawful use of weapons says this:

(720 ILCS 5/24‑1) (from Ch. 38, par. 24‑1)
Sec. 24‑1. Unlawful Use of Weapons.
(a) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowingly:
(1) Sells, manufactures, purchases, possesses or

carries any bludgeon, black‑jack, slung‑shot, sand‑club, sand‑bag, metal knuckles, throwing star, or any knife, commonly referred to as a switchblade knife, which has a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife, or a ballistic knife, which is a device that propels a knifelike blade as a projectile by means of a coil spring, elastic material or compressed gas; or
(2) Carries or possesses with intent to use the same

unlawfully against another, a dagger, dirk, billy, dangerous knife, razor, stiletto, broken bottle or other piece of glass, stun gun or taser or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument of like character; or
(3) Carries on or about his person or in any

vehicle, a tear gas gun projector or bomb or any object containing noxious liquid gas or substance, other than an object containing a non‑lethal noxious liquid gas or substance designed solely for personal defense carried by a person 18 years of age or older; or
(4) Carries or possesses in any vehicle or concealed

on or about his person except when on his land or in his own abode or fixed place of business any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm, except that this subsection (a) (4) does not apply to or affect transportation of weapons that meet one of the following conditions:
(i) are broken down in a non‑functioning state;

or
(ii) are not immediately accessible; or
(iii) are unloaded and enclosed in a case,

firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container by a person who has been issued a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card;

And this section would certainly make it felony UUW:

(720 ILCS 5/24‑1.6)
Sec. 24‑1.6. Aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
(a) A person commits the offense of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon when he or she knowingly:
(1) Carries on or about his or her person or in any

vehicle or concealed on or about his or her person except when on his or her land or in his or her abode or fixed place of business any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm; or
(2) Carries or possesses on or about his or her

person, upon any public street, alley, or other public lands within the corporate limits of a city, village or incorporated town, except when an invitee thereon or therein, for the purpose of the display of such weapon or the lawful commerce in weapons, or except when on his or her own land or in his or her own abode or fixed place of business, any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm; and
(3) One of the following factors is present:
(A) the firearm possessed was uncased, loaded

and immediately accessible at the time of the offense; or
(B) the firearm possessed was uncased, unloaded

and the ammunition for the weapon was immediately accessible at the time of the offense; or
(C) the person possessing the firearm has not

been issued a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card; or
(D) the person possessing the weapon was

previously adjudicated a delinquent minor under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 for an act that if committed by an adult would be a felony; or
(E) the person possessing the weapon was engaged

in a misdemeanor violation of the Cannabis Control Act or in a misdemeanor violation of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act; or
(F) the person possessing the weapon is a member

of a street gang or is engaged in street gang related activity, as defined in Section 10 of the Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act; or
(G) the person possessing the weapon had a order

of protection issued against him or her within the previous 2 years; or
(H) the person possessing the weapon was engaged

in the commission or attempted commission of a misdemeanor involving the use or threat of violence against the person or property of another; or
(I) the person possessing the weapon was under

21 years of age and in possession of a handgun as defined in Section 24‑3, unless the person under 21 is engaged in lawful activities under the Wildlife Code or described in subsection 24‑2(b)(1), (b)(3), or 24‑2(f).
(b) "Stun gun or taser" as used in this Section has the same definition given to it in Section 24‑1 of this Code.
(c) This Section does not apply to or affect the transportation or possession of weapons that:
(i) are broken down in a non‑functioning state;

or
(ii) are not immediately accessible; or
(iii) are unloaded and enclosed in a case,

firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container by a person who has been issued a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card.
(d) Sentence. Aggravated unlawful use of a weapon is a Class 4 felony; a second or subsequent offense is a Class 2 felony. Aggravated unlawful use of a weapon by a person who has been previously convicted of a felony in this State or another jurisdiction is a Class 2 felony.
(Source: P.A. 91‑690, eff. 4‑13‑00.)

However, the staute goes on to say this:

(720 ILCS 5/24‑2) (from Ch. 38, par. 24‑2)
(Text of Section from P.A. 93‑438)
Sec. 24‑2. Exemptions.
(a) Subsections 24‑1(a)(3), 24‑1(a)(4) and 24‑1(a)(10) and Section 24‑1.6 do not apply to or affect any of the following:
(1) Peace officers, and any person summoned by a
peace officer to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace, while actually engaged in assisting such officer.
(2) Wardens, superintendents and keepers of prisons,

penitentiaries, jails and other institutions for the detention of persons accused or convicted of an offense, while in the performance of their official duty, or while commuting between their homes and places of employment.
(3) Members of the Armed Services or Reserve Forces

of the United States or the Illinois National Guard or the Reserve Officers Training Corps, while in the performance of their official duty.
(4) Special agents employed by a railroad or a

public utility to perform police functions, and guards of armored car companies, while actually engaged in the performance of the duties of their employment or commuting between their homes and places of employment; and watchmen while actually engaged in the performance of the duties of their employment.
(5) Persons licensed as private security

contractors, private detectives, or private alarm contractors, or employed by an agency certified by the Department of Professional Regulation, if their duties include the carrying of a weapon under the provisions of the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004, while actually engaged in the performance of the duties of their employment or commuting between their homes and places of employment, provided that such commuting is accomplished within one hour from departure from home or place of employment, as the case may be. Persons exempted under this subdivision (a)(5) shall be required to have completed a course of study in firearms handling and training approved and supervised by the Department of Professional Regulation as prescribed by Section 28 of the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004, prior to becoming eligible for this exemption. The Department of Professional Regulation shall provide suitable documentation demonstrating the successful completion of the prescribed firearms training. Such documentation shall be carried at all times when such persons are in possession of a concealable weapon.
(6) Any person regularly employed in a commercial or

industrial operation as a security guard for the protection of persons employed and private property related to such commercial or industrial operation, while actually engaged in the performance of his or her duty or traveling between sites or properties belonging to the employer, and who, as a security guard, is a member of a security force of at least 5 persons registered with the Department of Professional Regulation; provided that such security guard has successfully completed a course of study, approved by and supervised by the Department of Professional Regulation, consisting of not less than 40 hours of training that includes the theory of law enforcement, liability for acts, and the handling of weapons. A person shall be considered eligible for this exemption if he or she has completed the required 20 hours of training for a security officer and 20 hours of required firearm training, and has been issued a firearm authorization card by the Department of Professional Regulation. Conditions for the renewal of firearm authorization cards issued under the provisions of this Section shall be the same as for those cards issued under the provisions of the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004. Such firearm authorization card shall be carried by the security guard at all times when he or she is in possession of a concealable weapon.
(7) Agents and investigators of the Illinois

Legislative Investigating Commission authorized by the Commission to carry the weapons specified in subsections 24‑1(a)(3) and 24‑1(a)(4), while on duty in the course of any investigation for the Commission.
(8) Persons employed by a financial institution for

the protection of other employees and property related to such financial institution, while actually engaged in the performance of their duties, commuting between their homes and places of employment, or traveling between sites or properties owned or operated by such financial institution, provided that any person so employed has successfully completed a course of study, approved by and supervised by the Department of Professional Regulation, consisting of not less than 40 hours of training which includes theory of law enforcement, liability for acts, and the handling of weapons. A person shall be considered to be eligible for this exemption if he or she has completed the required 20 hours of training for a security officer and 20 hours of required firearm training, and has been issued a firearm authorization card by the Department of Professional Regulation. Conditions for renewal of firearm authorization cards issued under the provisions of this Section shall be the same as for those issued under the provisions of the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004. Such firearm authorization card shall be carried by the person so trained at all times when such person is in possession of a concealable weapon. For purposes of this subsection, "financial institution" means a bank, savings and loan association, credit union or company providing armored car services.
(9) Any person employed by an armored car company to

drive an armored car, while actually engaged in the performance of his duties.
(10) Persons who have been classified as peace

officers pursuant to the Peace Officer Fire Investigation Act.
(11) Investigators of the Office of the State's

Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor authorized by the board of governors of the Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor to carry weapons pursuant to Section 7.06 of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Act.
(12) Special investigators appointed by a State's

Attorney under Section 3‑9005 of the Counties Code.
(13) Court Security Officers while in the

performance of their official duties, or while commuting between their homes and places of employment, with the consent of the Sheriff.
(13.5) A person employed as an armed security guard

at a nuclear energy, storage, weapons or development site or facility regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who has completed the background screening and training mandated by the rules and regulations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
(14) Manufacture, transportation, or sale of weapons

to persons authorized under subdivisions (1) through (13.5) of this subsection to possess those weapons.
(b) Subsections 24‑1(a)(4) and 24‑1(a)(10) and Section 24‑1.6 do not apply to or affect any of the following:
(1) Members of any club or organization organized

for the purpose of practicing shooting at targets upon established target ranges, whether public or private, and patrons of such ranges, while such members or patrons are using their firearms on those target ranges.
(2) Duly authorized military or civil organizations

while parading, with the special permission of the Governor.
(3) Hunters, trappers or fishermen with a license or

permit while engaged in hunting, trapping or fishing.
(4) Transportation of weapons that are broken down

in a non‑functioning state or are not immediately accessible.
(c) Subsection 24‑1(a)(7) does not apply to or affect any of the following:
(1) Peace officers while in performance of their

official duties.
(2) Wardens, superintendents and keepers of prisons,

penitentiaries, jails and other institutions for the detention of persons accused or convicted of an offense.
(3) Members of the Armed Services or Reserve Forces

of the United States or the Illinois National Guard, while in the performance of their official duty.

So if peace officers and any person summoned by a
peace officer to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace, while actually engaged in assisting such officer are exempted from UUW and 720 ILCS (5/7-6) says that:A private person who makes, or assists another private person in making a lawful arrest is justified in the use of any force which he would be justified in using if he were summoned or directed by a peace officer to make such arrest, has he commmitted UUW? I don't think so. I bet States Attorney Gary Duncan doesn't think so either, which is why he's presenting the case to the Grand Jury instead of filing the charges himself. The Grand Jury issues no indictment and everyone is happy. Often use of force cases go through Grand Juries or Coroner's Juries so that there is no appearance of bias in the States Attorny's office.

I'd recommend holding off on all the panic until we see what the Grand Jury does. Think about it, if Duncan had wanted to charge Buttram, he's had a couple months to do it. Buttrum wasn't arrested on the scene so the Jefferson County deputies obviously didn't think there was anything wrong with his use of the weapon. I do hate to think about the civil liability Buttram took on by engaging in a high speed chase and boxing the suspect in. I'm quite sure any judgements from a fatal traffic accident would have exceed the limits of liability on his insurance, if the circumstances didn't give his insurance company wiggle room to keep from paying at all.

Jeff - who thinks the Grand Jury will probably do the right thing.

liliysdad
July 18, 2004, 10:25 PM
Vigilantism...plain and simple. The owner posed a greater risk to the public with the chase and the brandishment than was necessary for a petty theft. While I dont think he ought to go to the pen, he definitely should see the inside of the county lockup for a while.

If its that big of a problem, simply require customers to pre-pay for gasoline.

flatrock
July 19, 2004, 08:30 AM
If they want to charge the guy with something it should be reckless driving for giving chase at high speeds and cutting the thief off to effect the stop.

It doesn't seem like his use of the firearm was inappropriate.

I don't think it's a good idea for private citizens to be giving chase in cars at high speed to capture a thief. If a jury feel that he wasn't justified in doing so, then he should pay the price for that act. However, that's not related his carrying of a firearm.

HankB
July 19, 2004, 08:47 AM
Vigilantism...plain and simple. This sort of thing only happens when the authorities cannot or will not do their jobs. Note that the guy called the cops first, but was informed that they didn't have a car available.

liliysdad
July 19, 2004, 09:18 AM
Then he should have filed a report.

Ransom
July 19, 2004, 09:47 AM
This sort of thing only happens when the authorities cannot or will not do their jobs. Note that the guy called the cops first, but was informed that they didn't have a car available.

Yeah, but here you have people who arent trained in high pursuit driving putting god knows how many people in danger as they speed down the street chasing someone all over 20 bucks as most in gas. Its just irresponsible. Far too many innocent people could have been hurt or killed all over a few dollars.

Jeff White
July 19, 2004, 10:01 AM
No, this wasn't vigilantism. In Illinois a private citizen has almost the same powers of arrest as peace officer. Buttram witnessed the theft and he could make the arrest and use the same force a peace officer would be permitted to use under Illinois law. That said, I think that the entire episode was an exercise in poor judgement. The fact that an action is legal, doesn't necessarily make it the right choice at the time.

The following observations are made from my reading of the news reports, which may or may not reflect what actually happened.

Buttram observed a man acting very suspicious and nervous at his gas station. It was 11:30 am so visibility was most likely excellent. The man was out of his vehicle, pumping gas. A resonable man would assume that Buttram would have been able to get a good description of the suspect, ht/wt, hair, clothing. He also was in a position to get a good desription of the vehicle, to include it's license number.

Granted the Jefferson County dispatcher told Buttram that no cars were immediately available. That's not surprising since there probably weren't more then two deputies on the road to cover the entire county. That's a fact of life in rural Southern Illinois. Police protection is expensive and county governments down here are pretty poor. However, the dispather would have put out an ISPERN (Illinois State Police Emergency Radio Network) message that would have been heard in every squad car (state, county and city) in state police district 13. Depending on where the license on the Blazer checked back to, and the direction of travel, they may have broadcast it in adjacent state police districts. If the vehicle was not located, either the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department or the Mt Vernon City Police would have went by the suspects residence and arrested him for theft of services. Buttram would have had to ID the suspect from from either a photo line up or an actual line up. The outcome would have been the same, and no one would have been endangered by a high speed chase.

Were Buttram's actions legal? Probably....Were they prudent? I don't think so.

Jeff

MrPink
July 19, 2004, 10:09 AM
Seems like vigilantism to me also. Should have gotten the license plate number and called the cops. Chasing the thief down at 90mph and forcing him off the road does not sound safe to me. What if he or his buds caused an accident with a third party?

Two wrongs do not make a right.

This cloak of NAACP racism claim seems like a crock to me. Also if the store owner is prosecuted a slap on the wrist and an admonishment sound good enough to me. Remember the guy who stole the gas will probably get a light penalty..

Ransom
July 19, 2004, 10:10 AM
No, this wasn't vigilantism. In Illinois a private citizen has almost the same powers of arrest as peace officer. Buttram witnessed the theft and he could make the arrest and use the same force a peace officer would be permitted to use under Illinois law.

Its legal for him to hold the man for arrest and possibly brandish his gun(I'm kind of on the fence on that one) but does it give him the right to speed and drive recklessly in the pursuit of this guy? I dont think the citizens arrest gives you the right to break the law.

Don Gwinn
July 19, 2004, 03:01 PM
Bad judgment, yes. I agree with that. Again, I'm not saying I would have done the same in his place. But despite what a lot of politicians like to say, "bad judgment" and "crime" are not the same things. The guy shouldn't go to prison.

As for reckless driving, I'm OK with that too, but he's apparently not being charged with it, is he? Maybe there's some requirement that an officer witness that. If they were going 60 to 70 mph on old country roads, that could range from the normal speed "everybody" drives on that road, to highly dangerous. Depends on the road surfaces. If a county deputy comes up behind you doing 55 on what is officially a 30mph road west of my small hometown, you will be passed. I know because they've passed me.

Jeff, thank you for shedding some light on what might actually happen here.

Honestly, if he has to get a scare put into him and sweat out a grand jury, that may not be entirely inappropriate. Again, what he did was a bad idea that could have gone much worse than it did.

six 4 sure
July 19, 2004, 04:02 PM
I remember seeing this on the news awhile back. I thought then 'that might not have been the best way to handle it'.

I work in Jefferson County (Mt. Vernon) very close to where this happened. I'll have to ask around at work and see if anyone know more.

Bruce H
July 19, 2004, 04:21 PM
Looks like three people here don't see anything wrong with stealing. Even stealing small amounts is still stealing. Let this go on and everybody will try it. If this guy stole a takn of gas every week in a year the amount would be quite high. This needs to be applied more often.

g_gunter
July 19, 2004, 06:12 PM
I guess I'm a dinosaur compared to some here? I have a simple outlook on such things. I have no problem with a thief of this sort getting his just desserts. No problem at all with a citizen (the meaning of citizen in its fullest sense) protecting his life, property, and means of providing for him and his family from those who would show such a blatant disregard of such. Those who would show such a disregard are violating more than this man but everyone in that community who seek to peacefully co-exist with one another. The law should serve the people and since there is no law that can cover every aspect of life common sense must prevail in some cases. The low-life who thought so little of this man's property and livelihood has no place in society among law-abiding citizens. The man who protected his own property and livelihood was justified in his actions. But that's just me. I'm a dinosaur. ;)

Greg

pinblaster
July 19, 2004, 07:21 PM
g_gunter , you're not a dinosaur , you just haven't been "dumbed down" enoufgh yet . You need to be reeducated with some sensitivity training and maybe some anger management so you can feel empathy for the thief and understand that since the store owner let this poor thief put gas in his car before he paid for it , that it's the store owners fault that the guy stole the gas , and he should take the loss and not whine about it . :D

Rebeldon
July 19, 2004, 07:40 PM
I'm sorry, but the poor feller should have taken the license tag number and called the police. There was no forcible felony committed by the guy who stole the gas. It's not like the guy kidnapped somebody--he stole gas. Chasing him down in his car and holding the guy a gunpoint for stealing gas is illegal in any state. It is unjustified.

pinblaster
July 19, 2004, 08:05 PM
Yes unfortuneatly in most parts of the USA (especially here in Baltimoronland) thieves can steal with impunity and God help the person they stole from if they take it upon themselves to do anything about it . I guess I'll be okay once I get my "mind right" .:barf:

sevenpoint62mm
July 19, 2004, 08:31 PM
Makes you wish for the ways of ancient times, when they just cut a theft's hands off for stealing. Kinda hard to pump gas (or drive off with it for that matter) without hands. :D

liliysdad
July 19, 2004, 08:43 PM
Looks like three people here don't see anything wrong with stealing. Even stealing small amounts is still stealing. Let this go on and everybody will try it. If this guy stole a takn of gas every week in a year the amount would be quite high. This needs to be applied more often.

I never once said that stealing is OK...exactly the opposite. Its simply not prudent, nor intelligent to risk the lives of countles innocents over a tank fo gas. He should have taken the description and tagh number, and let the proper authorities handle it.

I guess the fact that I am an LEO affects my judgement in this...I would have arrested both of them.....NO tank of gas is worth a life, whether it is the victims, the subject, or anyone who happened to get in the way.

Whether you like it or not, the law is the law, and it works if you give it a chance. Youd be amazed the amount of drive-offs we castch here.

Hawkmoon
July 19, 2004, 10:23 PM
Yeah, but here you have people who arent trained in high pursuit driving putting god knows how many people in danger as they speed down the street chasing someone all over 20 bucks as most in gas. Its just irresponsible. Far too many innocent people could have been hurt or killed all over a few dollars.
Since you have made a categorical statement that the people involved in the pursuit were not trained in high speed pursuit, I assume I can safely infer that you either know them personally or have access to their life histories, correct?

Just because someone is a "civilian" doesn't mean the cops are better drivers, any more than it means the cops are better skilled at firearms use and handling. Not far from where I live a section of a 4-lane state highway is named after a deceased law enforcement sergeant, who died in the line of duty by driving his patrol car off said highway while pursuing a kid driving a car 20 years older and running bald tires.

I'm a former sports car racer and championship autocrosser. I KNOW I'm a better driver at speed than 98 percent of the LEOs on the road, but if this article were about me there is no way that information would make it into the discussion.

I think you have leapt unerringly to an unwarranted conclusion.

liliysdad
July 19, 2004, 10:26 PM
I dont care how good a driver YOU are, you are not qualified to make a pursuit, nor are you legally able, thus you would be wrong as well.

Rebeldon
July 19, 2004, 11:41 PM
Being a victim of a crime, especially a non-violent crime, did not make Bob Buttrum above the law, nor does it give him the right to pursuit the thief at high speed, and then hold the thief at gun point. His life was not in danger. But he put his own life in danger, as well as others, when he tore down the road after the thief. What if the thief tried to run? Would he have shot him? Would you still be defending him if he had shot the thief?

I can't blindly support a citizen's stupid, reckless, dangerous and illegal actions simply for the sake of gun rights. I'm sorry he's in trouble. I'm sure if he had it all to do over again, he wouldn't do it.

Sergeant Bob
July 20, 2004, 08:34 AM
I would like to give a big salute to Mr. Buttrum.





SALUTE!!!!!

Rebeldon
July 20, 2004, 12:50 PM
Salute?

I'm the first to salute an armed citizen who defends himself. But in this case, he wasn't defending himself. Mr. Buttrum just gave the anti-CCW crowd in Illinios one more talking point. All he had to do was get the tag number. After that, there was no urgency. What was he going to do, hurry up and catch him so he could siphon the gas back into his tank. i understand his emotion, but true justice must be patient.

HankB
July 20, 2004, 01:34 PM
Interesting read . . . some people object to the pursuit based on danger to innocent third parties . . . I can see their point. But some other posts appear to be of the "don't chase and threaten somebody just because they stole from you" mindset.

It makes me wonder whether or not these folks, on some level, identify more with the thief than with the gas station owner.

flatrock
July 20, 2004, 04:04 PM
I'm sorry, but the poor feller should have taken the license tag number and called the police. There was no forcible felony committed by the guy who stole the gas. It's not like the guy kidnapped somebody--he stole gas. Chasing him down in his car and holding the guy a gunpoint for stealing gas is illegal in any state. It is unjustified.

This quote by one person seemed to sum up the beliefs of others.

There was once a time in our country where people thought it was their duty to chase after and stop thieves. There was once an opinion that the criminal was responsible for their actions and the results of those actions.

People concentrate on the danger posed by the people chasing the criminal, but it was the criminal that was fleeing and creating the dangerous situation.

The criminal who drove off and led people on a chase should bear the major responsibility for the situation. He escalated the minor theft to a serious crime. People need to quit blaming the people who try and apprehend criminals for placing people in danger, and start punishing the criminals who flee and cause dangerous situation severely.

If this guy broke Illinois law in his chase, then he should be charged accordingly, however the estimation of 90 MPH was by someone they drove by, and can hardly be taken as accurate. It's up to a grand jury, and possibly a regular jury to determine if his actions were uncalled for.

As for the particular issue of his use of a gun? If he can't legally use a gun in this case, then the 2nd Ammendment isn't being upheld. His actions in chasing after the criminal may be questionable, but that would be a seperate charge from the firearms charge.

pinblaster
July 20, 2004, 05:43 PM
Well stated , flatrock , very well stated !

Rebeldon
July 20, 2004, 07:39 PM
Running after a thief on foot and chasing him down on the road in a car are two different things. And holding somebody at gunpoint who hasn't committed a forcible felony is just plain wrong. When Mr. Buttrum held the thief at gunpoint, he was saying, "I'm going to shoot you if you try to run away from me!" Let's say the thief tried to run and Mr. Buttrum shot him, would that be a justifiable homicide? Could Bill Gates hold you at gunpoint until the police arrive if he found out that you had a bootleg copy of Windows? That's also theft! A drive off is not a violent crime. I've done it by accident before. But when I discovered my mistake ten minutes later, I turned around, went back and paid for the gas. What if the owner had chased me down and held me at gunpoint?

I've chased down a criminal before. The guy was carjacking people right in front of our office. When he couldn't drive the stick shift, he took off down the street. I trailed behind at a distance to see where he was going, but he threatened to shoot me, so I slowed my pursuit a little. He tried to carjack somebody else, but they refused to let him have their car. Then he ran to Wendy's and carjacked a girl at the drive-thru. When it appeared that he was blocked because the traffic was heavy, he jumped out of the car and let it keep rolling. I caught up to the scene by that time, and I jumped into the car to stop it from hitting other cars that where waiting to pull out of the Wendy's parking lot. When I got out of her car, I saw that my boss had grabbed the carjacker. When I approached to help, the carjacker reached into his jacket, the same way he did when he threatened to shoot me, so I quickly drew my revolver and pointed it at him, and he gave up. When I discovered he didn't have a gun, I put my revolver back into my pocket. I didn't hold him at gunpoint (he was kind of whimpy anyway). Several citizens joined in to help detain him until the cops arrived. The cops praised everybody involved in apprehending the carjacker. My boss and I, as well as several others, have been summoned as witnesses against the carjacker, but the case has been delayed for some reason.

In this case, if I had shot the guy, I would have been justified. He was committing a forcible felony, and he assaulted me by threatening to shoot me, as well as three others, and then acted as though he was actually drawing a weapon from his jacket. I had a good reason to believe I was in danger.

I swear, I think some of you would shoot a feller for stealing a pie off your window sill.

pinblaster
July 20, 2004, 08:25 PM
rebeldon , you shock me :what: with your "wild west" mentality . You pulled a gun on a whimpy little carjacker who was unarmed and was only trying to steal a car . It's a good thing he was unarmed or you might not be here today telling the story . When were you going to decide you had to shoot him ? After he shot you ? BTW where I live people are smart e-nuff not to put pies on thier windowsills . :D

Rebeldon
July 20, 2004, 09:16 PM
rebeldon , you shock me with your "wild west" mentality . You pulled a gun on a whimpy little carjacker who was unarmed and was only trying to steal a car.

Even a whimp with a gun can kill you. Stealing a car by telling somebody you'll shoot them is a forcible felonly, whether you have a gun or not. In Florida, you can use deadly force against the perp in this case.

It's a good thing he was unarmed or you might not be here today telling the story . When were you going to decide you had to shoot him ? After he shot you ?

It's a good thing for him that he pulled an empty hand out of his jacket or I would have squeezed the trigger.

BTW where I live people are smart e-nuff not to put pies on thier windowsills .

What do you mean? Don't you know that letting your pie cool off in the fresh air makes the crust crispier? :rolleyes:

Sergeant Bob
July 20, 2004, 09:37 PM
Salute?
Yep, that's right.....SALUTE!!!

How many times had this guy been robbed? I'll bet drive offs are pretty common.
How high on the police list of priorities do you do you think this is?
Let's see, Homicide Division.....Narcotics.....Gasoline Drive Off Division...don't think so.

Say someone keeps coming to your house and stealing things from you. Not grand theft, but things like your lawn mower, a TV, lawn ornaments, that old canoe, etc, etc. I know someone this has happened to and he's just SOL.
Chances are you're never going to see that stuff again and the cops are not going to devote a whole lot of time to finding the perp.

You just going to keep filing reports and filling out insurance claims?

I'm not. Sometimes you just have to say enough is enough.

Gary
July 22, 2004, 10:21 AM
The headline in the Morning Sentinel this morning stated that "Gun Owner Will Not Be Prosecuted."

liliysdad
July 22, 2004, 10:34 AM
Another instance of mob mentality ... its a shame the law cant even be carried out by the DA without fear fo reprisal from the public.:rolleyes:

Gary
July 22, 2004, 11:13 AM
Another instance of mob mentality ... its a shame the law cant even be carried out by the DA without fear fo reprisal from the public.

When the rules become more important than the vice that they were supposed to remedy, the rules themselves become the vice. It seems that we only have "law enforcement officers" today. In years gone by we had "peace officers". I don't know to which mob the above quote is referring. As I understand the situation there was the NAACP on one side demanding that Mr. Buttrum be prosecuted to the fullest and on the other side there were some gun rights activists that thought that he should be given a medal. But as we can see from the posts on this forum of gun rights activists, the solution to the probem was not unanimous. Gary Duncan is the States Attorney and he is a Democrat. If he was going to cave to the mob mentality, I think that he would have been inclined to go with the wishes of the NAACP. I don't think that his decision has anything to do with being pro-gun or anti-gun. I think that he simply looked at Mr. Buttrum who is basically a "good guy" that did something that many of us might consider ill-advised. Convicting him of a felony is not going to get a "bad guy" off of the street or preserve the peace of the community.

Don Gwinn
July 22, 2004, 06:25 PM
Buttrum will not face prosecution. He will be given one year of probation and a 3-hour gun safety class.

Again, you can try to make this about the awful danger of automobiles if you want, but that has NEVER been publicly stated or implied as a concern by the SA's office. If they ever considered charging him for dangerous driving, they did it in private and rejected the notion. Could it be that some are picturing the chase in terms other than what really happened? Naw, probably not.

SA Duncan has apparently decided that he hates John Birch and CC, Inc., but can't afford politically to anger gun owners. I think that shows a certain wisdom.

He did have the gall to tell the Mount Vernon newspaper that although he was aware that some "concealed weapons advocate" from Northern Illinois had asked people to call, no one actually called his office.

Now, on Friday, his secretary read back my name, phone number and position on this issue to me. She told me that the SA would want my name and number "so he can call you back." I knew that was unlikely, but I left him my cell number anyway. Now he claims no one called him. :rolleyes:

By the way, to hold a thief at gunpoint is NOT against the law as I understand it. IF he decides he has the cojones to walk away from your gun, I wouldn't fire, but if he decides to go through you instead, you might wish you were armed. The weapon should be used in self-defense only in that situation, but that's true of most crimes under Illinois law. It doesn't mean you're not allowed to have the gun at hand, for goodness' sake.

Jeff White
July 22, 2004, 06:36 PM
Don,
Here's the article from the Mt. Vernon Register News. It doesn't mention anything about ; He did have the gall to tell the Mount Vernon newspaper that although he was aware that some "concealed weapons advocate" from Northern Illinois had asked people to call, no one actually called his office. It also doesn't mention probation. He'd have to be charged for something to be put on probation. I'm going to town afterwhile and I'm going to pick up the hard copy of the paper to see if there is anything different in that article.

Jeff

http://www.zwire.com/news/newsstory.cfm?newsid=12438198&title=No%20charges%20for%20man%20who%20chased%20gas%20thief&BRD=987&PAG=461&CATNAME=Top%20Stories&CATEGORYID=410
No charges for man who chased gas thief
Jul 22 2004 12:00AM By By MARY KAYE DAVIS
marykaye@register-news.com

MT. VERNON — A Bluford store owner will not be charged on a weapons violation for holding at bay a teen who allegedly stole gasoline from his store. Instead, he has been asked to take training on property protection rights.
In May, Bob Buttrum, owner of Midway Mart on Illinois 15 East near Marcum City Road, helped chase a vehicle of teens after the driver of the car allegedly pumped gas and then drove away without paying for it. Once Buttrum and several of his friends blocked the car with their vehicles, Buttrum displayed a gun and held the teens until deputies could arrive. The teen driver was later charged with theft.
After reviewing sheriff’s department reports, Jefferson County State’s Attorney Gary Duncan said Wednesday afternoon Buttrum won’t be charged.
“In the alternative, Mr. Buttrum has agreed to take specific training so that he will be better informed of his rights to protect his property and the limitations on those rights if he elects to pursue a property offender away from his business location,” Duncan said.
The training will be three hours.
Duncan added that community training also will be available because he believes “many in the community do not have an adequate understanding of recent legislative changes in firearms laws and of the laws in general regarding citizens arrests.”
“The Jefferson County State’s Attorney and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department have obtained approval from the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor to sponsor a joint community training to advise business owners, property owners and citizens in general about lawful remedies to protect property,” Duncan said. “The Mt. Vernon Police Department has also offered assistance in this public awareness effort.”
The classes will be held in the city as well as in rural areas and will also provide information on how to deter thieves and protect property.
The state’s attorney said business and property owners have a “clear right” under Illinois law to protect themselves and their property.
Duncan said that Buttrum agreed to take the course.
Buttrum said he believed he followed the law and did nothing wrong.

Don Gwinn
July 22, 2004, 06:59 PM
BOB BUTTRUM WILL NOT BE CHARGED BY JEFFERSON COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY

Amazing what a little pressure can do to bring justice.

Just a few days ago Jefferson County State's Attorney Gary Duncan papered the county with subpoena's for a grand jury hearing to indict convenience store owner Mr. Bob Buttrum on felony Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapons charges. (To recap Mr. Buttrum chased down a gas thief and held him at bay by brandishing a handgun until the Jefferson County Sheriff could arrive.)

Then a strange thing happened. Mr. Duncan changed his mind. All Bob has to do is take a three hour gun safety class and stay clean for a year and all is forgotten, forgiven, etc.

In fact Mr. Duncan wants everyone to know he supports gun owners. Amazing what a few phone calls will do to shine the bright light of truth on a situation. I'm sure Mr. Duncan saw that his political future was in the balance and acted accordingly. I'd of done the same thing. It's called prosecutorial discretion. Something sadly lacking in Cook County but clearly still alive and well in Jefferson County.

Looks like Mr. Duncan may make efforts to brand me a racist, or so one source tells me. Oh well, when you got nothing else in your quiver play the race card I guess. I say bring the accusations on and let's party.

Also the Mt. Vernon Register newspaper played a huge role in hanging on to this story with tenacity. The last thing any politician wants is press involving the prosecution of a family man out protecting his business from predators. Kind of sends the wrong signal to criminals - don't you know - when the State's Attorney makes it clear that victims of crime are the ones going to jail and not the perpetrators.

A special thank you to the various confidential sources that kept CC News in the loop as this story developed. Your confidence and special trust will not be betrayed.

So to all of you who got off your butt's to make your voices heard, great job. To those who sat on your ass, well at least enjoy the good news and hope one day it's not you in Mr. Bob Buttrum's shoes.

For now let's assume State's Attorney Duncan is a convert and will act in the interests law abiding gun owners with the zealotry of the newly baptized.

NOTE: This story was withheld 24 hours out of fear that SA Duncan might change his mind and arrest Bob because CC, Inc. has really pissed Mr. Duncan off in a big way. Now that the story that Bob will not be prosecuted is in the downstate press, we feel it is safe to publish the above article. Folks, it's not my job to get all cozy with State's Attornies. I'd like it if they would just stick to real crime, play a few rounds of golf, have a cocktail or two and collect a pay check. But when they prosecute (or threaten to prosecute) a good gun owner...well you know what we say at CC, INC..."When you arrest one gun owner, you arrest all gun owners." Thanks to you we are batting 1.000 and while we are not making any friends, we are educating one State's Attorney at a time. That said, I think I'll be staying out of Jefferson County.

Though the Mt. Vernon Morning Sentinel did not contact me, here is what they said about CC, Inc.:

The case caught the attention of of at least one concealed weapons advocate in northern Illinois who editorialized that buttrum was being unfairly persecuted and urged people to contact Duncan in protest. However, no one did, Duncan said. The advocate also theorized that Buttrum would be indicted because Mitchell is black.

I guess SA Duncan forgot to check his voicemail? Are we to believe that after papering Jefferson County with subpoenas that SA Duncan suddenly, on his own, and without any provocation, changed his mind? Believe what you will. We didn't say Buttrum would be prosecuted because Mitchell was black, we said our sources said SA Duncan was under pressure from the NAACP.

Jeff White
July 22, 2004, 07:09 PM
Don,
The Sentinal isn't online, but I'll pick one of those up too. Check your PMs.

Jeff

Sergeant Bob
July 22, 2004, 07:54 PM
I'm glad someone finally realized who the victim was in this deal (however he came to that realization).

Another SALUTE (that's a big salute) to Mr. Buttrum and everyone who "didn't"? contact the SA!!!

Gary
July 22, 2004, 08:10 PM
SA Duncan has apparently decided that he hates John Birch and CC, Inc.,

Don, I am not challenging your opinion, but could you give us some of the details of why you have come to this conclusion? I live in Mt. Vernon and have talked with Mr. Duncan on occasion about the state of gun laws in Illinois particularly after the prosecution on Vana Haggerty and he has been professional and ameniable. I can't say the same thing for some of his associates and as a result he has told me that if I ever need to discuss something with the States Attorney's office to contact him directly. If there is bad blood now, I need to know more about it before I have the occasion to meet with him again.

Don Gwinn
July 22, 2004, 08:58 PM
Gary, I took John's word for that. I have not been able to catch Mr. Duncan in the office to speak to him personally. I may, at this point, call him and ask whether he told the Sentinel that no one had called.

He did do the right thing, and I have no wish to start a feud with the man. I believe John based his statements on phone conversations with Mr. Duncan, but I could be wrong. John is also something of a showboat, as you might expect from someone who does what he does.

Jeff, we cross posted. There's a PM waiting for you now. I said "probation" based on this:
All Bob has to do is take a three hour gun safety class and stay clean for a year and all is forgotten, forgiven, etc.
. . . . but the year of "staying clean" is not mentioned in the article you posted. Could be John misunderstood that part. Is there an equivalent term for probation? I was once placed under "supervision" for a year back in my wild and reckless youth when I was caught speeding. Would this be something similar?

Jeff White
July 22, 2004, 09:30 PM
Don,
It could be court supervision, but if so he'd have to be charged, plead guilty and placed there by the court, usually as part of a plea agreement. Similar to what you did in traffic court. It could be that prosectution was deferred if he stayed clean for a year. That could even have been done with a verbal agreement between Buttram's attorney and Gary Duncan.

I will make some calls tomorrow and see if I can get any inside info. I think you may be right about John showboating a little. It'll make a nice fundraising story for those in the Northern part of the state who may or may not have any way of knowing what really happened down here.

Sergeant Bob said;

How many times had this guy been robbed? I'll bet drive offs are pretty common.
How high on the police list of priorities do you do you think this is?
Let's see, Homicide Division.....Narcotics.....Gasoline Drive Off Division...don't think so.

I am a peace officer one county North of where this incident occurred. Drive offs are not all that common, but unlike in larger jurisdictions we often catch the offenders. Part of the reason is that our activity isn't so high that we don't have time to mess with those calls and part of it is the ISPERN system operated by the Illinois State Police that puts information on an incident like that in every state, county and local squad car in the area within minutes of the drive off happening. I can tell you with almost 100% sureity that if Buttram had called in the license number, vehicle description and a description of the driver that Larry Mitchell would have been arrested and charged with the theft. If he wasn't caught on the road, someone would have went to his home and arrested him. We do this all the time. As near as I can tell, everything that Buttram did was legal under Illinois law. I don't think it was the smartest way to handle the situation. Legal doesn't necessarily make it the right thing to do and I promise you the civil consequences would have been much more expensive then the tank full of gas had an innocent party been killed while Buttram was chasing down the thief. Maybe Buttram was just fed up with drive offs, maybe he was living out a Starsky and Hutch fantasy? Who knows? Who cares? It's really immaterial why he did it, it wasn't the smart thing to do. Now had Mitchell kidnapped a child from the station, it would have been justified, but not the way it was reported here IMHO. Legal doesn't make it right.

Jeff

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