13 May 2006

USMC Calculus Instructor Captures Jewel Thief

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Capital Online reports:

When a shabbily dressed man ran out of a Westfield Annapolis jewelry store followed by an employee screaming for help, Erik McInnis didn’t think twice.

“Anybody sprinting out of a store like that is guilty until proven innocent,” the 39-year-old Marine major said.

He immediately left his two children, ages 9 and 2, in the mall’s play area and chased Timothy A. Laboard, 40, of Baltimore, through the back corridors of the mall.

Jonathan Neff, another father in the play area, said Maj. McInnis “hurdled the row of seats and hit the ground at an all out sprint behind the thief … He was through the doors in hot pursuit before anyone else knew what was happening.”

Maj. McInnis followed Mr. Laboard back into the mall, grabbed his collar, and put him in a rear figure-four choke hold on the ground.

“It was kind of surreal. There I was laying on top of this guy and everyone just kept walking by like nothing had happened,” said the Naval Academy math instructor.

After a few moments, an off-duty FBI agent walked up and handcuffed Mr. Laboard.

Mr. Laboard was charged with theft over $500 after the incident on Monday. Police allege he snatched a $28,000 diamond ring out of a person’s hand inside the Helzberg Diamonds. After Mr. Laboard was arrested, police said he pulled the ring from his mouth and handed it over to an officer.

“I’m a drug addict and I need help,” Mr. Laboard said, according to a police report.

Officials at Helzberg Diamonds were not available for comment.

While Maj. McInnis might teach calculus during the day, he’s still a Marine. He said he also teaches martial arts at the academy and is the officer representative for the school’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club. That, he said, is where he learned the submission and grappling moves he used at the mall.

“I’ve been teaching the stuff to midshipmen for years. I had a better than average chance to catch him,” said Maj. McInnis…

“As hokey as this sounds, I consider apprehending scum bags to be an unwritten statement in my general job description of being a Marine,” he said.

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