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Teacher nabs robbery suspect

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By Robin Bass

A 20-year-old Mt. Washington man was arrested by police shortly after holding up a gas station in Taylorsville Wednesday afternoon.

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Curtis A. Blandford, of 270 Harrison Circle, was charged with second degree robbery and taken to Shelby County Detention Center. Bond has been set at $10,000.

Blandford was in police custody within 30 minutes of his alleged robbery of Country Mart’s fuel station. Lt. Rick Jewell, of the Taylorsville Police Department, said credit for the quick arrest goes to Jacob Barmore, a teacher at Spencer County High School.

Barmore followed the robbery suspect for several miles, said Jewell, and ended up blocking Blandford’s Jeep Cherokee from exiting a dead end street near Tanglewood Golf Course. With no cell phone to call the authorities, Barmore convinced the suspect to get in his vehicle and drove the suspect to On the Way Cafe, a nearby restaurant.

“Of course, we don’t condone Jacob’s actions,” said Jewell. The police lieutenant said civilians are, instead, encouraged to get a suspect’s license plate number. Rather than complying to Barmore’s commands, Jewell said the suspect could have just as easily gotten out of his car wielding a gun. A later search discovered the suspect had a pocket knife and a baseball bat in his possession.

Still, without the teacher’s help, Jewell said it would have taken much longer to catch the suspect, especially since his face could not be seen easily on the store’s surveillance video.

Video showed the suspect entering Country Mart’s fuel station at 2:30 p.m. and then walking away from the counter when another customer entered. Four minutes later Blandford is seen laying a bag of chips, donuts and a candy bar on the counter and then passing a note to the clerk.

After reading the note, the clerk calmly opens the register, dumps the food, cash and note in a plastic sack and the suspect exits.

With police responding to the store’s panic alarm and Barmore on the chase, another customer volunteered to use his binoculars – hoping to catch a glimpse of the suspect’s license plate.

Clerk Kevin Tindle appeared dazed after the incident as he recounted the incident.

“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” said Tindle, a Country Mart employee for two and a half years. “He gave me a note that said something like, ‘This is a stick up. Give me all the money and nothing else will happen.’”

Police recovered the plastic bag containing $982 and several snacks allegedly from the convenient store. On the bottom of hand-written note, also in the bag, was ironically printed the Bible verse, “Hold me up in your path that my footsteps not slip. Psalm 17:5.”

Blandford reportedly told police that he was unemployed and recently “had a falling out” with family members.

“I think he just pulled up and decided that’s what he was going to do,” said Jewell of  Blandford’s apparent lack of planning.

Second degree robbery is a felony charge that involves making threats, not the use of deadly weapons. This offense carries the penalty of five to 10 years in prison.