[an error occurred while processing this directive]
|Email story||Comment||Letter to the editor|
By ABHI RAGHUNATHAN, Times Staff Writer
Published January 18, 2008
ST. PETERSBURG - William Walker and a friend had stopped at the Kmart on U.S. 19 after spending Wednesday enjoying a Scottish heritage event at a library.
As they were about to drive off in Walker's 2007 silver Chevrolet Impala, a teenager jumped out. He had a rifle.
Walker, 80, is a World War II veteran and the son of Scottish immigrants. He was with his friend Katharine Manson, 87.
The teenager pointed the sawed-off .22-caliber rifle at Walker's chest and said: "Give me the keys. And step back now."
Walker complied. The teenager then screamed at Manson. She yelled back but got out. Then, the teenager with the gun and another young man sped off in the Impala.
"They're pointing that gun straight at your middle," Walker said. "What would you do?"
But the carjackers made a mistake, police said. They didn't know that Walker's car had an OnStar Global Positioning System.
Someone in the parking lot called police, and Walker told officers about the OnStar system. After locating the Impala at a nearby gas station, OnStar called St. Petersburg police, who pursued the Impala to a home in the 1800 block of 21st Street S. The Impala hit three cars before finally breaking down in the yard.
Police surrounded the home and arrested two teenagers: 17-year-old Michael Thomas and 18-year-old Kwame Weaver.
Thomas was arrested on a charge of armed carjacking, as well as numerous other charges such as hit-and-run and fleeing and eluding. Weaver was arrested on charges of being a principal to armed carjacking and two counts of obstruction.
"I don't understand what's going on in this world," Walker said. "Yes, I'm a World War II veteran, but I've never seen anything like this in my life."
Walker, a foreman for the Raytheon Co. for more than two decades, said his car was totaled. He bought the Impala in February, and now doesn't have a vehicle to get around. He doesn't expect to get back in insurance what he paid for the Impala.
"I'm out thousands of dollars because of some idiot. It's terrible," Walker said.
Walker praised the police who tracked down the teenagers, calling them very polite.
He said he plans to press for full prosecution of the two teenagers. Walker said one officer told him that one of the teens threatened to buy a gun when he got out of jail and go after the police.
"I don't know what's going to happen in the future with children like this," Walker said.
Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 893-8472.
[Last modified January 17, 2008, 22:37:21]