A 61-year-old Good Samaritan said he stopped the suspected perpetrator of a hit and run from fleeing the scene of the crime by pointing his index finger at the man and pretending he had a gun.
Mark Dino Russo told the St. Louis Dispatch that on Sept. 26 he witnessed an out-of-control driver slam his car into a utility pole and hit two people before trying to sneak away.
A crowd of people gathered after the crash, he told the outlet, and a woman was apparently left lying motionless on the ground in the aftermath.
Russo said he noticed a young man on a cellphone walking away from the wreckage.
“From the quick look I got [of the driver], it looked like him,” Russo told the Dispatch. “I have no idea if he was thrown from the car, or climbed out or what. He was walking away, heading toward River Des Peres.”
Russo said he “had a feeling” that the suspect was going to run away.
“And I just decided I wasn’t going to let him,” he said.
When he was about “150 feet away” from the scene, Russo said the man broke into a run.
At that point, Russo took action. Standing behind the open door of his truck, Russo raised an empty hand and pointed his index finger – making a “finger gun” gesture – at the suspect.
“Stop, [bad person], or I’ll shoot,” he reportedly shouted.
Russo’s bluff worked.
“He stopped and put his hands in the air and started walking back. Then I told him to get back by his car, and he did that, too,” he said.
St. Louis police said they arrested Jeremy Stockert, 33, at the scene.
Stockert was cited for leaving the scene of an accident and careless and reckless driving, the Dispatch reported.
The injuries to the two victims hurt in the incident were not grave. Although, they were both transported by ambulance to a local hospital, the Dispatch reported.
According to Russo, he told two police officers about his actions. A police source was not able to confirm to the Dispatch that Russo’s account was contained in law enforcement’s reports regarding the incident.
Russo said his friends and family have pointed out how his actions may have placed him in danger.
“All I was thinking was if that’d been my daughter lying there, I wouldn’t want someone to let that guy walk away.”
A finger gun controversy
Not everyone sees the finger gun as a force for good. In August, a Pennsylvania state appeals court upheld a man’s misdemeanor conviction for pointing a finger gun at his neighbor during an argument.
Stephen Kirchner, 64, was found guilty of disorderly conduct and ordered to pay a $100 fine plus court costs, WGAL reported. The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that his gun-like gesture “served no legitimate purpose, and recklessly risked provoking a dangerous altercation.”
“We conclude that there was sufficient evidence that Kirchner’s act of mimicking his shooting [his neighbor Josh] Klingseisen created a hazardous condition,” Judge Maria McLaughlin wrote in the opinion.
Kirchner had fought the case for more than a year. He argued that his actions were too minimal to be considered criminal and that he had no interest to cause “public alarm” or create “hazardous conditions.”