LEWISTON, Maine – A Lewiston man being sought by police was apprehended Wednesday when he jumped from a third-floor balcony to a garage roof trying to escape officers pursuing him and was tackled by a newspaper photographer, authorities said.
The Sun Journal newspaper reported that photographer Russ Dillingham was credited with helping police capture 35-year-old Norman Thompson as he tried to flee from local police and federal agents.
"We never would have caught this guy without Russ," Lewiston police Sgt. Detective Adam Higgins said. "He was able to take pictures, tackle the guy and then hold him for us."
Investigators from Lewiston, Auburn and the Maine state police and warden's service had been searching for Thompson in connection with the theft of several vehicles, according to the newspaper.
Thompson was spotted Wednesday afternoon on a bicycle in the downtown area and subsequently flushed from hiding in an apartment building, according to police.
"He took off running. And then, at a full spring, he went right over the railing like Superman. He was literally like Spiderman," Higgins said. "This was from the third floor."
Thompson landed on the garage roof next door "and then he jumped from that roof to the ground, like a cat," Higgins said.
Higgins said he screamed to the photographer, "Tackle him, Russ! Tackle him!" and Dillingham did.
"Russ ran after him, his camera flew to the ground, and he tackled him," Higgins said.
Thompson, who police said was not armed, was arrested Wednesday on charges of theft by unauthorized taking and of violating conditions of release. Police said he is a suspect named in warrants on charges that he stole a game warden's private vehicle and then led officials on a high speed chase, according to the Sun Journal.
"I always kind of wondered what I'd do in a situation like that," said Dillingham, 47, a 25-year veteran of news photography. "But you don't even think about it. You just react."