Georgia Citizens Take Up Guns to Stop Robber

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When a stick-up artist tried to knock over the local gas station in Rhine Georgia, the local citizens formed an old school posse and tracked the gunman down, with surprising results.

The Town

In the 1880s, the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad laid its tracks through rural Georgia from Savanna to Vidalia and Albany, connecting with spurs to Montgomery Alabama to the West and Tallahassee Florida to the South. Along this line, in the Central Georgia turpentine belt of Dodge County, sprung up the little town of Rhine.

The town itself, some 130-ish years later is still around and still little, with about 400 full time residents. The highlight of the year in Rhine is the Pondtown Festival that features a beauty pageant, concerts, and street dancing. Still, even this remote tranquil place is not immune from crime.

The Incident

On an otherwise normal Thursday afternoon in November 60-year old local Ken Lowery stepped inside Aden's Convenience Store in downtown Rhine and ran right into something out of the ordinary.

The place had just been robbed.

As reported by WGXA-TV, "The lady screamed at me and said 'I've been robbed, he's got a gun, and I gave him all the money,'" Lowery recalled.

Lowery says he saw the suspected gunman, identified as 24-year-old Damien Durham of Wilcox County, walking down the street making a nonchalant getaway. Witnesses say it was a bizarre sight, but what happened next was even more unbelievable.

"People just kept coming around and they were mad, people in Rhine were mad," Lowery said. "Here we had an armed robbery in the middle of the day at Aden's and they wanted to form a posse."

Photo from the newspaper "Nogales Herald" dated July 20, 1922 showing an American posse after capturing the Mexican bandits Manuel Martinez and Placidio Silvas (middle of back row) who killed or wounded five people at or around Ruby, Arizona in 1921 and 1922. Posse justice, which dates back to 1600s England, was prevalent in the United States up until the 1920s. Often formed in conjunction with law enforcement, and then acting under the constitutional protection of such, these groups enforced the law when needed and no one else was available.

The Response

Indeed the local citizenry of Rhine, GA did on November 7, 2013 assemble into an armed 'posse' of about twenty individuals to search for the robber. This group searched the 3.1-mile (1900-acre) town, looking for the suspect who had fled on foot.

At one point Lowery saw the individual and fired a warning shot. This forced the suspect to drop his weapon as well as the loot and beat feet for the comfort and safety of a nearby shed. There, law enforcement officers of the Dodge County Sherriff's office found the fugitive and took him into custody.

Major Donald Helms of the Dodge County Sheriff's Office says it's just a story of good guys with guns. People in a small town exercising their right to bear arms.

"You might not want to come down there and mess with the Rhine folks," Helms said.

We would tend to agree with that statement.

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