In Feb. 14 IssueRussell County NewsBy Greg Wells, RCN Managing Editor
It was a Saturday in Somerset and a local family was shopping, when suddenly the whole situation looked like something out of police drama.
When it was all over a bystander commented to Leslie Hurt, "The Pittsburgh Steelers don't have anything on your husband."
Willie Hurt is the manager at the GFF Heritage plant in Jamestown and he said it all started with the decision to go out of town for dinner.
"And I had to get something at Lowes," Hurt said. "Then we were just walking into Walmart, on the grocery side - all of the sudden I heard this commotion and someone was yelling 'stop him, stop him… he stole that woman's purse!'"
Looking back, Hurt said, it might not have been the best of choices.
"I just grabbed him," Hurt said. "We went down and he was swinging at me an I was blocking and he was cursing and started saying 'Let go man! I'm just trying to feed my kids!'"
Hurt didn't let go though. He held on until store management arrived. They promptly tried to throw Hurt out of the store for fighting, but the crowd that had gathered came to his aid and instead the accused purse-snatcher was taken away by security.
As things settled down Hurt said he was introduced to the woman as her purse was returned.
He said there was a language barrier, but someone interpreted for the Hispanic woman and her two small children.
He said everyone was telling how great it was that he did what he did, and the woman thanked him. But he said it was just a reaction, and he only did what he thought was right.
"I was just raised that you look out for other people, when someone is trying to take advantage of them," Hunt said.
It was afterward that what could have happened started to sink in.
He said he realized what a risk he'd taken with his own life; "what if he'd had a gun or a knife?"
Thinking about what the man had said has they were struggling on the floor afterward he thought of the two small children with the woman.
"I mean what if that was all the money she had in the world there in her purse," Hurt asked. "She was there buying food for her kids…
"I guess it is just a sign of the times we're in right now," he said. "…I'm just glad no one was hurt."