Citizen helper

Terry Elmore, a Limestone County citizen, receives a certificate of appreciation Monday from the Limestone County Sheriff's Office for assisting Deputy Jason Pendergrass in arresting a suspect. Pictured, from left, are Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly, Pendergrass, Elmore and Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely.

A citizen who stopped to assist a deputy struggling to subdue a suspect last week received honorary deputy status, heartfelt gratitude and even a Cracker Barrel gift card from the Limestone County Sheriff's Office this week.

Terry Elmore said he was driving along Spence Cave Road on his lunch break Wednesday when he heard sirens. LCSO deputies had been chasing a suspect in a stolen vehicle through Limestone County and even into Tennessee, and shortly after passing Elmore, the suspect wrecked the vehicle and tried to continue running on foot.

When Elmore arrived at the scene of the wreck, he noticed Deputy Jason Pendergrass fighting with the suspect, later identified as David McKinney. McKinney had managed to get on top of Pendergrass, who admitted that in the one-on-one match, he was losing.

"He was on top of me, and he's a lot bigger than me," Pendergrass said. "I already had some issues with my back, and he's getting the best of me. Then, I saw Terry, and he just dove into the ditch and got him off me."

Elmore said he didn't think about what he was doing. He saw an officer in trouble, so he pulled off the road and rushed to help.

"When an officer needs help, you don't really think about it," Elmore said. "You just help them."

With Elmore's help, Pendergrass handcuffed McKinney to a fencepost until backup could arrive. McKinney faces charges of reckless endangerment, aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, attempting to elude and first-degree theft of property. He also faces a charge of drug trafficking after authorities found nearly 2 pounds of methamphetamine in his possession and a charge of possession of a pistol by a violent felon for a firearm found on the motorcycle he was on before he stole the SUV used in the chase.

"The sheriff's office is very appreciative we've got citizens like this that are willing to assist," Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said in a media conference Monday. He said it makes him feel good about the community in which he and his deputies serve, "because we have the support of the community."

"It speaks volumes when we've got people not just willing to go out and assist, but he was also putting his life on the line," Blakely said of Elmore.

For his efforts, Elmore received a certificate of appreciation, an honorary deputy certificate and a $25 Cracker Barrel gift card from the sheriff's office. He said he was "just glad to help," but Pendergrass said without Elmore, "I think (McKinney) would have got the best of me."

"That's the first I've ever had a citizen jump in and help like that," said Pendergrass, who's been with LCSO for 16 years.

As of Monday, McKinney was still in the Limestone County Jail. His bail has been set at $100,000.

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