In my nearly 20 years of reporting on Second Amendment news and issues I’ve covered thousands of armed citizen stories, but I have to say I’ve never run across an incident quite like this one.
The sheriff in Kanawha County, West Virginia reports that four people were taken into custody on suspicion of burglary on Thursday after deputies were called out to a report of trespassing on a property in a rural part of Charleston. When authorities arrived, they found four individuals still on the scene; not trying to break into a home but with their hands tied behind their back.
The people told deputies that they had been inside a cabin on Crouch Hollow Road. When they were leaving a masked man approached them and tied their hands behind their backs.
Investigators say that he also shot flat the tires of an ATV and truck they were using.
The owner of the cabin was on scene and told investigators he does not use the cabin full time and that it has been broken into several times over the last six weeks.
Deputies say that their investigation revealed the cabin owner is not responsible for tying the four people up.
The identity of the masked man is not known.
After police found property from the cabin inside the truck, deputies arrested Elizabeth Littlejohn, James McDaniel Jr., Timothy Justice, and Jason Becher on charges of breaking and entering, but so far the masked man has remained unidentified.
Is there a wanna-be superhero running around the hollers and hilltops in Kanawha County? A local billionaire with a double life? Has the Mothman returned, this time armed with a handgun? Was this a neighbor who spotted something suspicious but didn’t want to draw attention to themselves for some reason?
I don’t know that we’ll ever get answers to those questions, though I’m reasonably sure we can rule out a cryptid or Gov. Jim Justice being responsible for tying up the suspects and shooting out their tires. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for any similar stories from the Charleston area, however, on the off-chance that this wasn’t a unique circumstance that led to the capture of the four alleged burglars.
It’s unclear at this point whether deputies will devote much time or energy trying to determine the identify of the masked man. I suppose he could face charges of destruction of property for shooting out the tires of the ATV and truck used by the burglary suspects, but under West Virginia common law a private citizen has the authority to make an arrest when someone commits a misdemeanor offense that represents a breach of the peace in the presence of that citizen. Does this qualify as an “arrest” if the masked stranger left the scene before authorities arrived, and would shooting out the suspects’ tires to prevent them from leaving the scene of a crime be lawful under common law?
It could make for a fascinating court case, at least if the masked man’s identity is ever revealed, but unless or until he makes himself known I’d say this is another secret that’s likely to stay buried in the backwoods of wild and wonderful West Virginia.