Georgetown hero to the rescue for second time

By Valencia Wicker

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - It's been almost three weeks since John Walters stood behind a chain-linked fence and watched bulldozers sift through piles of debris on Front Street in Georgetown.

On September 25, Walters' apartment and art studio burned in a massive fire that destroyed several other businesses and homes.

Walters' dog, Jake, also died in that fire.

"It's stressful because you've got a lot going on," he said. "You've lost your home, you've lost everything that you own and then you lose your ability to create income."

Just moments before his home went up in flames, Walters became a hero. He saved his next door neighbor from the fire.

"I grabbed her by the back of her jacket and just kind of picked her up and helped her along," he said.

Nineteen days later, not much has changed for Walters. He's still homeless but now, his story includes the Food Lion on Johns Island.

"I decided just to step away from the town a bit, just to collect my senses. So, I came down for a couple of days down to Charleston," said Walters.

While grocery shopping Sunday, he noticed a possible thief.

"This guy was picking up the packages and putting them in the shopping cart," said Walters.

"He came up and he didn't have his shopping cart. And then I noticed his sweatshirt was tucked in and it had not been before."

Walters said when he saw the suspect instinct kicked in.

"I grabbed him under his arm and by the coat and around his neck. And, I put my legs around him, jumped up on his back, [because] he was taller than me," he said.

"He was carrying me for half a second and I slid my leg in between his and tripped him up and slammed him down to the ground."

Police said Walters held the suspect down until officers arrived.

"He was trying to dig in his pocket for his knife," he said. {}

The community is now calling Walters a hero.

Community members say he is now a man with nothing, who was brave enough to protect items that weren't his own.

"Any man I know would do the same thing," said Walters. {}

Police said the suspect in this case was 47-year old Robert Chavis.

Chavis told police he was trying to steal 75 dollars worth of meat to pay for drugs. He has been charged with property crime enhancement.{}