Coast Guard member helps officers arrest suspect at Portsmouth Wal-Mart

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Roger Brown (Photo via U.S. Coast Guard)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — One of the good Samaritans who helped Portsmouth officers arrest a resistant burglary suspect has been identified as a Coast Guard member.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Roger Brown was walking toward the exit of the Wal-Mart at 1098 Frederick Boulevard around 8:15 p.m. on April 27 with his car keys in one hand and a single bag in the other. The plastic bag contained frozen fruit that he planned to make a breakfast smoothie out of the next morning before he went to work at the Command, Control and Communications Engineering Center on Base Portsmouth.

Before the automatic doors slid all the way open, Brown said he heard sounds of a scuffle and a voice yelling, “Get down, get down!”

Outside, two police officers were wrestling with a man who had managed to pin on of the officers to the ground. Police said the suspect was punching the officer in the face.

“It took me a second or two to realize what was happening,” said Brown. “Then I kicked off my flip-flops, threw my keys and my groceries down, and took action.”

One of the officers was working part-time at the store that night when he recognized 32-year-old Clinton Pickens, who matched the description of a suspect wanted for burglarizing five local businesses between April 19 and 25.

Gallery: Portsmouth police search for serial burglar

The officer talked to Pickens until a second officer arrived to help taken Pickens into custody.

“As soon as the second officer got there, the suspect became violent and started assaulting the first officer,” said Detective Misty Holley of Portsmouth police. “He became extremely aggressive.”

Brown jumped right in and pulled Pickens off of the officer and then helping the police get the suspect on the ground.

Clinton T. Pickens (Photo: Portsmouth police)

Another good Samaritan rushed over to assist Brown and the officers. Brown said the man restrained the suspect’s legs while the officers put him in handcuffs.

“It all happened quickly, and I didn’t catch his name,” said Brown. “But he was a great help.”

Detective Holley says Brown and the good Samaritan were key in resolving the situation.

“The officer sustained minor facial injuries and bruising,” Holley said. “If Petty Officer Brown and the other good Samaritan hadn’t reacted so quickly, it could have ended up much worse.”

Brown, who has served in the Coast Guard since 2003, said he originally joined looking for a change and a way to find direction in his life. While he now works as an electronics technician and provides technical support for Coast Guard cutter navigation systems, Brown previously served as a boarding team member aboard the 210-foot Cutter Resolute out of St. Petersburg, Florida.

During his tour aboard the Resolute, Brown was part of law enforcement missions as a boarding team member. He went through countless hours of tactical training, which he said came in handy during the struggle with Pickens.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Roger Brown with his wife, Jennifer, and daughters, Bella and Sophie. (Photo via U.S. Coast Guard)

“It’s been a while since I’ve used those techniques,” he said. “But you never forget them.”

But Brown said you don’t need tactical training to help police officers or others who are in trouble, you just need to act quickly and do what you can.

“You’ve got to look out for your local law enforcement members,” said Brown. “You never know when you’re going to need their assistance in return. It all comes back around full circle.”