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Sep 28, 2010 3:25 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Southampton native nabs burglary suspect for police

Editor's Note:

For a video by NBC Philadelphia about Mr. Fowler and Mr. Rote apprehending the alleged burglar, click here.

Sep 28, 2010 3:25 PM

A pre-dawn banging on his bedroom door was more than something going bump in the night for college student Ricky Fowler of Southampton Village.

Much more, in fact.

In minutes flat, the University of Delaware junior—along with one of his housemates, fellow junior Ryan Rote—spotted an intruder, chased and caught the fleeing suspect, and held him down until city police arrived on the scene to make an arrest.

Mr. Fowler, who has served with the Southampton Fire Department in its junior program since he was 12 and as a firefighter with Agawam Engine Company No. 1 since he turned 18, is also an emergency medical technician with the Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The events of Saturday, September 18, therefore, were a turnaround of sorts for him.

“Usually, I’m used to responding to 911 calls, whereas this is, like, the first time I actually needed to dial 911,” the 20-year-old said in a recent interview.

Citizens nabbing suspects on their own is generally not recommended, according to Newark Police, but in this case the two young men’s actions turned out favorably.

“We don’t advise people to engage themselves in this type of behavior, but in this particular instance they were able to handle themselves pretty well,” said Lieutentant Brian Henry of the Newark Police Department. “It’s not a recommended course of action, but it turned out pretty good in this one.”

Such occurrences are very infrequent, occurring no more than once a year, the public information officer estimated.

Mr. Rote, a Baltimore native, roused Mr. Fowler from his slumber early that Saturday morning after the former was awakened by an unknown male rifling through his desk and wallet in the off-campus house they share with two other classmates, one of whom was also home during the attempted caper, Mr. Fowler related.

The unarmed suspect—later identified as 23-year-old John D. Morton of Middletown, Delaware—had gained entry to the house by slicing a hole in a window screen and crawling through the unlocked window, police said.

Mr. Morton dropped the wallet and about $130 he had taken from it upon being caught in the house, then fled, Mr. Fowler said. But he was only about a block away, or less than 300 feet, when the two students ran after him and knocked him to the sidewalk. Mr. Rote held him in place, and Mr. Fowler called police on his cell phone. Lt. Henry said there was not much of a struggle.

“My roommate has the speed. I have the size,” said Mr. Fowler, a plant science major who said his current plan upon graduation is to return to his family’s plant nursery on Wickapogue Road.

The defendant was later charged with second-degree burglary, a felony, and attempted theft and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors, according to police.

Asked if he learned anything from the experience, Mr. Fowler replied, “I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal. We got the kid. I think we taught him a lesson.”

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Good Job, Ricky.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Oct 1, 10 7:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
Good job, little flower!!
By johnnyhampton (82), Southampton on Oct 3, 10 8:50 AM
Good job Southampton Native....and Good Name.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Oct 3, 10 9:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Hambone (514), New York on Oct 3, 10 12:46 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Hambone (514), New York on Oct 4, 10 2:31 PM
@Hambone: Your comments here amount to a "personal attack," in violation of 27east commenting policy and terms of service. That is why they were removed.
By BOReilly (135), 27east Web Editor on Oct 4, 10 3:46 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By justduckey (58), artist colony on Oct 4, 10 5:05 PM
so much for freedom of speach hambone.
By banjack (45), port jeff on Oct 5, 10 1:27 PM