You’re never too old to fight crime, America, especially if you were a karate instructor back in the day.
That’s the lesson imparted by Charlie Burton, 75, who helped a young whippersnapper cop take down an alleged shoplifter over the weekend.
The scene of Burton’s heroics was Washington Crown Center mall in a fairly distant suburb of Pittsburgh, the Ellwood City Ledger reports.
“I throw lumber every day,” Burton, who works at a mill, told the local newspaper.
The septuagenarian also moonlights by handcrafting pens out of bullet shells. On Saturday, before a lunchtime spent fighting crime, Burton was hawking his unique pens at a sportsman’s show at the mall.
He got hungry, so he headed down to the food court. That’s where he spotted a police officer in a fracas with a man.
“I said, ‘Do you need help?'” Burton explained to a Ledger reporter. “And somebody said, ‘Yes.'”
So, Burton did what any 75-year-old U.S. Navy veteran would do: He jumped into the melee on the side of the cop.
“He said, ‘You’re hurting my arm,'” Burton explained. “I said, ‘If you don’t stop struggling, I’ll break it.'”
Burton noted that he had been a boxer aboard the USS Forrestal aircraft carrier around 1960 or so. He also taught martial arts as a younger man.
The alleged shoplifter is Jonathan Fekete Jr., 29. Fekete has been charged with taking $200 worth of clothes from the Macy’s at the mall. He was also wanted on outstanding drug charges, notes area Fox affiliate WTXF.
Burton noted that Fekete “wasn’t that smart” if he indeed shoplifted at the mall during the sportsman’s show, which is attended by policemen, gun aficionados and 75-year-old vets who will definitely throw down if the need arises.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Camera Bartolotta helped turned Burton into a celebrity. The Republican was in attendance at the sportsman’s show and posted images on the Internet.
Burton said he doesn’t understand what the fuss is about.
“I’m dumbfounded over it,” he told the Ledger. “The guy who should be getting the attention is the cop who got him in the first place.”