Talk about being in the right place at the right time. A married couple employed by the Elizabethtown, Kentucky police department were enjoying a quiet meal at Raising Cane’s restaurant in nearby Louisville. As often is the case, whether off-duty or on, the crime-fighting tempo doesn’t get much respite.
As newlyweds, husband/Detective Chase McKeown and his wife/Officer Nicole McKeown munched on their meals in a far-corner booth when a masked gunman brandished a firearm and demanded money from the cashier. The cashier’s hands went up; typical tell-tale sign of a robbery in-progress. Both off-duty cops noticed and sprung into action; typical tell-tale sign of cops and the off-duty misnomer.
“I saw her hands go up and I’m thinking, ‘Is he doing what I think he’s doing?’,” Nicole McKeown said to local media. Cops certainly have a front row seat (or rear-corner booth) to witness hard-to-believe human behaviors.
“We just looked at each other. ‘Is this what’s going on?’ Let’s go,” Chase McKeown said, “Instincts took over and we just did like we felt we needed to do.” Cheers to these two LEO lovebirds!
With their service weapons drawn and both flanking either side of the restaurant dining area, Detective McKeown and Officer McKeown ordered the gunman to drop his weapon and lay on the ground. Seems two out-of-thin-air, armed cops spooked the robber; he fled to the front door where he clumsily dropped his firearm.
Chase and Nicole gave chase, nabbing Justin Carter, 30, in a yard one block away. Also armed with their cell phones, these two off-duty cops on date night called 9-1-1 and relayed the at-gunpoint arrest and their location. Louisville cops arrived and assumed custody of Carter. His firearm is secured in a police evidence locker while he remains in county lockup for armed robbery and other poor decisions, unless he can somehow produce $50,000 cash bond. (Just imagine: if this armed perpetrator committed this deed in New York, he may be sprung already…thanks to their newly hatched bail reform laws.)
Louisville police Robbery Unit Detective Dave Mason said at a post-arrest press conference at police HQ: “It is my belief, if not for the heroic actions taken by these two [off-duty] officers, the perpetrator’s actions inside the business would have escalated.” Indeed he is correct. Watch WBAL TV News video and you will see what appears to be an uptick in impatience with the cashier, as if she is not handing it over fast enough for his desires. After initially showing his pistol then awkwardly trying to tuck it in his pants waste-band, he reproduces it and waves at toward her. That is the unmistakable sign of desperation, and desperate people make the poorest of decisions—often fatal ones.