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Kitwana Jones hoists the Grey Cup as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2007. (Ryan Remiorz)
Kitwana Jones hoists the Grey Cup as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2007. (Ryan Remiorz)

Edmonton Eskimo sacks suspected serial purse snatcher Add to ...

Save for the hysterical woman, a purse, a laptop and the subsequent arrival of the police, it was like any other tackle for Kitwana Jones.

The Edmonton Eskimos defensive end was on his way to the Alberta legislature just before 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, set to appear at a pancake breakfast. It was early for Jones. The 28-year-old North Carolina native didn't have his music turned on in his car, something he says is "not normal."

That's why he heard the screams.



Nobody was going to stop this guy. It was just women and old people out. So it was just like, 'Hey KJ, you gotta do what you gotta do.' Edmonton Eskimos defensive end Kitwana Jones


"I just see this guy running with, like, two purses in his hand. And I seen this little old lady, she's just running behind him and screaming for dear life, yelling 'Help, help, help.' So I was looking and said, 'Oh man, is this woman really about to chase this guy?' "

Jones was witnessing a purse and laptop snatching, near the corner of 100 Avenue and 103 Street in the city's downtown. The way Jones describes what came afterwards, you'd think it happened at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium. Before he could react, another older man tried to stop the suspect.

"The guy just ran through him, ran through the little block he had," Jones said, saying the guy was "40 or 50 yards" ahead of him. "Nobody was going to stop this guy. It was just women and old people out. So it was just like, 'Hey KJ, you gotta do what you gotta do.' "

Jones could be considered a purse snatcher's worst nightmare. He stands six feet tall, weighs 227 pounds, and ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash in college. He's a freak who led his former team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, in quarterback sacks last season. The Eskimos acquired him in a trade in May, and he has five tackles and a fumble recovery in three games this season.

Putting those skills to use, he got out of his car and took off after the suspected thief.

"I just took the initiative, jumped out of my car, ran him down and tackled the guy," Jones recalled. It was a blindside tackle that included an unfriendly arm to the head. Police took three or four minutes to arrive. While they waited, the men had a chat.

"It was mad early in the morning. I was upset. For real," Jones said. "I didn't even get a good stretch in or nothing. I had to chase this guy, and I'm mad, and I'm like 'Why you out here trying to rob old women who are really trying to make an honest living going to work?' And he just laughed."

Jones gave him another arm to the head, and a kick to the side. Police say the suspect wasn't injured, and Jones won't face any charge. On the contrary, investigators lauded the tackle in a news release titled "Solid Catch by Edmonton Eskimo." It made Jones a local celebrity much of Tuesday.

"He took what he knew and applied it in a similar fashion to the things I know," deadpanned Edmonton police Detective Bill Allen. "I saw the size of [Jones] He's fairly capable of holding a fairly big individual."

Police arrested a man who they say is also suspected in at least one other robbery. Terrance Allan Walcott, 29, was set to appear for a bail hearing on a robbery charge Tuesday night.

The unidentified woman got her purse and laptop back.

Jones is the latest in a line of Edmonton Eskimos to make headlines as Good Samaritans. In 2002, six players were toasted as heroes after catching a woman, Teri Macleod, who jumped from a burning building. That year's squad went all the way to the Grey Cup final, but Jones wasn't making any predictions for his own team.

"I just hope we get there. We have the talent to do it. I don't want to jinx anything, but I hope it's a good omen," he said. "I ain't no hero. I just seen someone who needed help, and jumped in."

Follow on Twitter: @josh_wingrove

 

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