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Man with pitchfork is thwarted

July 08, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

A pitchfork-wielding man walked into a Burger King restaurant just before noon Thursday and threatened to stab a 24-year-old Hagerstown man, Maryland State Police said.

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In a move described by police and a witness as heroic, the Hagerstown man, Raegan Keith Thompson, knocked the pitchfork out of the man's hands and forced him to the floor.

Relieved of the pitchfork, the unidentified man left the restaurant but threatened to return later with a gun, police said.

Police were still searching for him Thursday evening.

Thompson, a mover for an office moving company, said he was on his lunch break and waiting to order food at the Burger King at 13014 Pennsylvania Ave. when an older man came into the restaurant and asked him his name.

Thompson told the man and then asked why he wanted to know, Thompson said during a telephone interview Thursday afternoon.

The man replied that it was none of Thompson's business and began insulting him.

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The two men went outside where the insults continued for a while before the older man went to a truck, Thompson said.

Thinking the verbal confrontation was over, Thompson went back inside Burger King.

Before long, the older man came into the restaurant brandishing a pitchfork.

"He came in and said, 'I'm going to ... stab you,' " Thompson said.

"I knocked the pitchfork down with my right hand and grabbed his throat with my left hand and took him down," Thompson said.

Maryland State Police Trooper Wayne Smith said another customer thanked Thompson for grabbing the pitchfork, saying he may have kept the man from hurting others in the restaurant.

"You're safe in saying that he did something heroic," Smith said.

By brandishing a pitchfork the man was a danger to Thompson and others, Smith said.

"I don't feel I was a hero, I was just protecting my own," Thompson said. "He was coming at me with a pitchfork and it wasn't like I was going to stand there and get stabbed."

"Now the guys tease me and call me 'grandpa slayer' and all I was trying to do was have lunch," Thompson said.

Smith said they don't know why the man threatened Thompson with the pitchfork.

"Witnesses said that (Thompson) didn't provoke him," Smith said.

Thompson said that he did not know his assailant, who was described as a black man between 45 and 50 years old with a medium complexion, approximately 5-feet, 7-inches tall and weighing about 190 pounds. He had a mustache and was wearing shorts.

He left the Burger King with a child who was about 3 to 5 years old, and headed north on U.S. 11 in an older Chevrolet pickup truck, gray or primer color, possibly with a maroon stripe.

Anyone with information about the incident or the identity of the man may call state police at 301-739-2101.

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