Citizen involved in capture of hit-and-run suspect receives reward
A Calhoun man at a car dealership was in the right place at the right time to help police officers 100 miles away with a hit-and-run case that involved one of their own.
Wednesday, William Baldwin was rewarded for that.
On Nov. 12, 2012, Henry County police officer Elgin Daniel was struck and killed and roadside assistance worker John Cook was severely injured after stopping to help a stranded motorist, according to police.
The vehicle that hit the men did not stop, and authorities put out the only description they had: They were looking for a Ford F-250 pickup truck with damage to the driver's side and the side mirror.
Baldwin woke up Nov. 13 and started his usual routine, which includes watching the morning news. One of Baldwin's co-workers watched the news, too, and both men knew police in Henry County were looking for the damaged truck.
So when the parts department at the dealership where they work got a call about a side mirror for a truck less than 24 hours after the incident, at least one of the men started thinking about the possibilities.
"One of the associates said, 'You know that mirror fits the kind of truck they're looking for, don't you?' and I hadn't even thought about it," Baldwin said.
Baldwin, who said his co-workers wanted to keep their names out of the media, didn't think much more about what his friend said until the man buying the mirror showed up and abruptly decided to pay with cash instead of his credit card.
"All kinds of flags went up for me then," Baldwin said. "I mean, I was halfway through the transaction, and then he wants to pay with cash? I've seen enough TV to know something was up."
While Baldwin finished the transaction, he said another co-worker took a good look at the truck the man drove to the dealership. It didn't match the police description, and it didn't need a side mirror, but the man took note of the license plate, just in case.
Not long after the sale was done, Baldwin decided to call the police in Henry County to tell them about the customer who bought the mirror. It was after he made that initial call that he found out his buddy had gotten a plate number off the truck.
"So I called them back again," Baldwin said. "And it turns out that is who they were looking for."
The information the men gathered helped Henry County police identify Ruben Marin-Garibay, 43, who was ultimately convicted of vehicular homicide. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence and faces another five years of probation after his release.
Baldwin received two monetary awards for his assistance Wednesday, Sgt. Joey Smith with Henry police said.
Baldwin was quick to say he plans to split the reward money equally with his two co-workers.
"It took all three of us," Baldwin said Tuesday during a phone interview. "We did it together. I just made the phone calls."
Smith said the Henry County police are forever grateful to the men.
"No law enforcement tool will ever compare to a citizen who is concerned with crime in their community and is willing to come forward with information," he said.