SNELLVILLE -- Something stuck in Snellville police Lt. Billy Wayne Brown's craw about the man who wanted a ride to Lawrenceville.
The man, clad in a T-shirt, tie and sweatpants, had approached the veteran officer about 10 a.m. Tuesday at a QuikTrip gas station at Ga. Highway 124 and Dogwood Road. Brown told the man Lawrenceville was just too far to drive. All Brown really wanted was to pop in, grab a coffee and get back on the road. The man walked over to a pay phone.
Exiting the store, coffee in hand, Brown asked the fellow if he'd scored a ride. The man stomped off into the store without much of a reply, police said Wednesday.
How rude, thought the lieutenant.
When Brown, in uniform, walked back into the store to make sure things were on the up and up, the would-be hitchhiker was robbing the place, repeatedly demanding the manager behind the counter to "Give me all your (expletive) money," said Snellville police spokesman Cpl. Trey Downs.
Brown slipped in line behind the alleged robber and made eye contact with the manager, who handed over $15 in a bag. Without resistance, Caleb Frankie Stephen saw the officer and surrendered, Downs said.
Police officials on Wednesday praised the instincts of the longest serving officer on the force. Brown started with the department when he was 18, some 34 years ago, making his tenure the longest in the city (tied with a court clerk), Downs said.
Brown booked Stephen, who was not armed, on a robbery charge and took him to Lawrenceville after all (the Gwinnett County Jail).
Brown wasn't available for an interview Wednesday, but he told colleagues the experience struck him as pretty unbelievable.
"We believe that, obviously, the suspect had some kind of mental problems," Downs said.