Store workers cited for help in murder suspect's capture
They don't wear a police badge or carry a weapon, but officials say that two young women played a role in the capture of a Massachusetts murder suspect on the loose in Westport two weeks ago.
Erin Meaney and Marica Dacey, both employees of Splash of Pink in Playhouse Square, were recognized for their help when police gave them certificates of commendation as well as "Challenge Coins" with the Westport Police Department's logo.
While others may have seen the Massachusetts suspect, Thomas Gardner, prowling around the Playhouse Square shopping complex, said Police Chief Dale Call, Meaney and Dacey took action and called the emergency "9-1-1" number to alert authorities about the sighting.
"They took the time to get involved when a lot of people chose not to get involved," he said.
The two had been told by a postal worker around 11 a.m. Nov. 9. that a murder suspect, who was chased into Westport off Interstate 95, had crashed a stolen car in Winslow Park behind the Westport Country Playhouse and could possibly be hiding in the area.
That news prompted Dacey to go online and find his photo. Hours later, Meaney was sitting on a bench outside Splash of Pink --after hearing a report that Gardner may have made his way to the train station -- when the suspect himself walked by and said hello. She replied accordingly and played it cool before heading inside to call police.
Meaney said she became more nervous when he walked by her storefront as she was making the call. Fortunately, she said, he did not look inside.
Call said if the two women hadn't done due diligence, "Who's to say he (Gardner) wouldn't have stolen another car, carjacked someone, taken someone hostage inside a store? The good thing is they called 9-1-1 right away."
"When you hear about these things," said Meaney, "You never think you're going to run into the person, but this shows you should definitely take it seriously."