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CAUGHT ON VIDEO: Citizen With a Gun Stops Church Thief

A concealed carrier held a church thief at gunpoint, and the local media happened to be at the right place at the right time to catch it on video.

Ed Clayton – a maintenance worker for First Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida – also happens to be a licensed concealed carrier. There had been a breach in the church’s front doors one evening, and he was tasked with boarding them up.

When he had arrived to the church, he thought there might be someone inside. For this reason, he had come prepared with his handgun just in case. A witness told Clayton that there had been someone breaking the doors open earlier that evening – and incidentally causing $4,000 worth in damages – but that he didn’t go inside the church and instead had run away.

As the maintenance worker was repairing the doors, the suspect returned. When the suspect saw Clayton, he took off running, and the Clayton went after him.

“I saw the guy walk up the sidewalk and he saw me and took off running. So I ran down the sidewalk and when I got to the end of the sidewalk I didn’t see anyone,” Clayton told WFLA. “I look over in the bushes and he’s hiding… As soon as I hit the sidewalk over there, I took my weapon out just in case. I didn’t know where he was,” he said. According to Clayton, prior to this incident, he had never had to pull his gun on anyone.

Eventually, the suspect – identified as 23-year-old John J. Novobylski from Illinois – wound up at the top of the church steps in front of the doors where concealed carrier Ed Clayton held him at gunpoint until police arrived to arrest the suspect, charging him with felony criminal mischief. It was at that point that WFLA happened to be in the area covering another story that they stopped and recorded what they could.

Philip Hodges

Phil has been writing about outrageous news and politics since 2012.

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