Thompson, finance director of Anniston City Schools, received the Director’s Coin from Chris Murphy, director of public safety in Montgomery, for his part in apprehending a would-be carjacker in the city last month.
“I’m honored that the city of Montgomery chose to recognize us today,” he said. “It was pretty neat.”
Thompson said he was in Montgomery, where his son and ex-wife live, on Feb. 2 for his son’s Cub Scout Pinewood Derby race. After the race, he was taking his son to lunch when he heard a woman screaming for help as he was getting out of his car. He put his son back inside the car and locked it, then ran to check on the woman, who had been confronted by a man who threatened her with a knife and demanded her keys and purse.
Thompson, along with another good Samaritan, ran after the perpetrator, disarmed him and detained him with other witnesses until the police arrived.
“As police officers, that’s what we’re trained to do, that’s what we’re required to do,” said Montgomery police Capt. Duane Johnson about the incident outside of the Fresh Market on Perry Hill Road just off I-85.
But what’s remarkable in this case, he said, is “you have an ordinary citizen who has no obligation to put themselves in harm’s way who goes above and beyond to help a complete stranger and to take down an armed and dangerous criminal.”
Johnson said it’s unusual for an unarmed citizen to intervene in situations like this, and as a general rule of thumb, his department doesn’t usually recommend it because of the danger involved.
Despite that, the actions of Thompson and the other witnesses helped apprehend the suspect and solve a case that would otherwise have hinged on the department’s ability to investigate it after the suspect’s likely escape.
Thompson’s son was able to attend Tuesday’s ceremony in Montgomery and see his dad receive the same award the city’s police officers and firefighters earn for excellence.
“There was no guarantee that there was anyone else who would jump into action,” Johnson said of Thompson’s bravery.
“He heard somebody who needed help and he didn’t hesitate. He acted immediately.”
At the ceremony, Thompson said he thought more about the fact that he could have been hurt running after an armed man like he did, but at the time, he just thought about making sure the woman was safe.
“It was good to know we helped eliminate crime for that particular day.”
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.