By JOSH FRYE
News Staff Writer
Local law enforcement officials, responding to a report of a possible burglary in progress around 8:45 a.m., found instead a vagrant who was simply searching for food and water as he attempted to make his way back to north Alabama.
The incident occurred last Wednesday (July 28) in the area of Ima Lane and Bell Fork Road, just off Alabama 21 North, in Atmore’s police jurisdiction. Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) deputies and police officers from Atmore and Poarch arrived on the scene, looking to take a criminal in custody. Instead, the county officers wound up digging into their pockets to help the drifter get back home.
According to ECSO Major Bill Blair, the call was taken seriously due to multiple burglaries that have occurred in that area over the past several months. One home currently for sale in the vicinity has been broken into a number of times. Blair confirmed that the male vagrant, whose name was not released since he was not arrested, was detained and questioned by ECSO officers, but neighbors confirmed that the man had been camping in the area for several days and was just knocking politely on doors asking for food and water.
“The vagrant was traveling from Mobile to Huntsville,” Blair said. “He had no prior criminal record and it was confirmed that none of the buildings in the area had been burglarized or broken into. No crime was committed. What we found was simply a gentleman down on his luck who was trying to get home.”
According to Blair, the man had been without food and water for more than two days. Once the man was cleared of any crime or wrongdoing, Blair and other ECSO personnel aided the man by supplying him with food and water.
After helping him rehydrate, ECSO took the act of compassion a step farther by transporting the man to the bus station in Evergreen to help him complete his journey home.
Blair added that the ECSO is here not only to protect and serve its fellow citizens and care about the community, but is also willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to show compassion when it matters most.