Vietnam Vet doesn't back down from gunman
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- A 67-year-old Chattanooga man didn't back down when someone tried to rob him in a grocery store parking lot. His response sent the suspect running, but he didn't make it far.
Napoleon Rutledge is a Vietnam veteran who says he has a couple dozen confirmed kills in war. He's not proud of it, but says he did what he had to do. He fought for freedom, and when that freedom was tested on Wednesday he reacted the only way he knew how.
"What I faced in Vietnam...no, it didn't shake me! It made me mad," said Rutledge.
Wednesday afternoon around 4:00 p.m. in a packed Bi-Lo parking lot on Highway 58, Rutledge was walking back to his car with $600 in money orders.
"This guy came up behind me and said, ‘Hey sir I want your money!' I turned around and looked, and he cocked his 9mm."
The gunman didn't realize he was looking for a freebie from a man not willing to back down.
When the gunman held the gun up Rutledge said, "Why you wanna rob me? Why don't you get a job? What I got, what I get, what I spend in this store, I earned it! I said if you gonna shoot me then shoot me. I got a wife and three kids that you'll have to take care of."
Rutledge said he then saw the fear in the gunman's eyes. The bad guy put down the gun and then made an even stranger request.
"He said well can you give me a ride across the street from Bi-Lo," said Rutledge. "I said No, you better get away from me!"
He did, 19-year-old Octavious Malone left in a hurry and was arrested shortly afterwards, along with two juveniles, on Gunbarrel Road. Malone is facing weapon and aggravated robbery charges.
Rutledge just doesn't understand the mentality of people like Malone. "What is wrong with them? I got drafted to go to Vietnam, I didn't have a choice. They got all the opportunities in the world now to make something of themselves but they don't want it," he said.
It should be noted this is not how the Chattanooga Police Department recommends you react in a similar situation, but in Napoleon's case it seemed to work.