Sunday, July 7, 2013
Mark Cooper's Independence Day...
...this past Wednesday, July 3rd, James David Myers, a convicted rapist serving a life sentence at the Mansfield Correctional Institute, (once the home of Andy DuFraine in The Shawshank Redemption,) celebrated his birthday by escaping from the prison and vanishing into the stormy evening.
An all-points bulletin hit the airwaves shortly after.
Because my home sits less than 30 minutes east of the prison, we took notice.
A twenty-four hour manhunt for the escapee turned up no clues as to the whereabouts of Myers. Many figured him to have departed the area, gaining as much distance from Ohio as possible.
Only one day later, while many of us were celebrating our Independence Day with family & friends, James David Myers entered the Olivesburg General Store, a small locally owned market, eight miles north of the prison, and less than ten minutes from my home.
He steps up to the counter, places a hand over his very own mugshot, taped to the glass only hours earlier, and asks the clerk to use the phone.
Recognizing the escapee, the trembling store attendant hands Myers a cordless receiver.
At about the same time, Mark Cooper, his wife and son, enter the store and order ice-cream cones from the nearby freezer. Mark notices a man talking on the phone a few feet away, considers his appearance, thinking that he's seen him somewhere before, then makes eye-contact with the attendant behind the counter.
Remaining calm, Cooper ushers his family outside, dials 911 on his cell, then instructs his wife and son to stay outside. He fears that Myers may get away before the authorities can arrive. He thinks, what if that were my wife or daughter behind that counter?
Mark Cooper reenters the store, notices that Myers is no longer using the telephone, but remains at the counter, eyeing down the candy bars and packs of chewing gum. Cooper, standing over six feet tall, tipping the scales at three hundred pounds, and wearing a shirt donned in our country's stars & stripes, walks past Myers, hesitates, then grabs the escapee from behind, locks his arms into a full nelson, and pins him to the floor.
There they wait until the police arrive, guns drawn.
In the time it took them to get there, really no more than five minutes give or take, their job had already been done for them.
They found James David Myers tied up in banding wire, and held down under the weight of Mark Cooper, left with no choice but to stare at a United States flag until being escorted back to his cell in Mansfield.
Now that's what I call, being a Patriot on Independence Day ;)
Thanks for reading,