An Lacomb-area resident armed with a shotgun caught a burglar in his shop early Friday morning and held the suspect at gunpoint until deputies arrived.
Jim Brazel, 82, said the culprit, who was hiding behind a tractor, came within a half-second of dying.
“This man doesn’t realize how lucky he is to be alive today,” Brazel said. “My finger was half-pressed against the trigger. That close.”
Justin Dean Russell, 36, of Albany, was arrested on a charge of second-degree burglary. His initial bail was set at $6,000, and he was scheduled for a court appearance on Monday.
Brazel said his wife Miriam woke him up in the middle of the night. She heard something out in the shop of their Green Mountain Drive residence.
Since more than $1,000 in equipment was taken from the shop in a burglary just three weeks prior, Brazel wasn’t fooling around.
He put on a robe, grabbed his shotgun and headed outside with his wife.
Inside the shop, Brazel had a tractor’s front end hoisted up. It was rocking back and forth, and he knew something was wrong.
“I told my wife ‘There’s somebody in here yet. Watch it,’” Brazel said.
Moments later, he saw movement behind another tractor in the shop.
“I drew the gun up and was going to pull the trigger at whatever it was. ... I thought it was probably an animal to begin with,” Brazel said.
“The man stood up, so I did not shoot,” he added. But Brazel kept the gun pointed at the burglar.
At 4:29 a.m., Miriam called 911.
The burglar first told Brazel he was trying to get warm. “I bought that like I would a lead balloon,” Brazel said.
Then the suspect changed his tune and said he was looking for something for his son’s birthday, which he said was today.
Four deputies arrived, and after putting Russell in handcuffs, they began looking for another suspect on the property.
“By that time, whoever it was was gone,” Brazel said.
Brazel figured his footsteps on gravel in front of the shop must have alerted the other burglar, who fled.
He’s told all his neighbors to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.
According to Brazel, burglars are taking a tremendous risk with their lives out in the countryside.
He said he isn’t going to hesitate to shoot if he feels in danger.