You have to die to earn a Darwin Award, so a man arrested this week at Golden West College doesn’t exactly qualify. But he certainly gets an honorable mention. For those who don’t know, the Darwin Awards — made popular through vast e-mail circulation — are granted to those who remove their genes from the societal pool by committing stupid acts.
The 21-year-old Garden Grove man was apprehended on Wednesday afternoon after botching a purse-snatching attempt by escaping from a supermarket parking lot into the training compound of a police academy at a neighboring college.
He had a plethora of available escape opportunities after grabbing a woman’s purse outside a Lucky supermarket in Huntington Beach, a picturesque coastal town in Southern California, which is found annually on the FBI’s list of America’s safest cities.
The suspect opted for the worst possible path.
Instead of heading into neighboring residential areas or for crowded adjacent retail centers, he bolted across the street toward the 122-acre campus of Golden West College. In addition to being recognized for its academic and career programs, Golden West is also known for two things a fleeing suspect should avoid: ample grass-lined park areas and one of the state’s top police academies, the Criminal Justice Training Center.
Undaunted, unaware, or perhaps cracking under the pressure of two good Samaritans who pursued the alleged purse snatcher, the suspect headed directly for the police academy, passing under an archway with the “Criminal Justice Training Center” logo and into the training compound.
There, the alleged criminal met justice in the form of Randy Tucker, a police sergeant from the neighboring city of Garden Grove and an instructor for Golden West College’s police academy. Tucker, in uniform as is the custom of Criminal Justice Training Center instructors, chased the unarmed man up an embankment surrounding the training center, made a fine tackle and applied the cuffs.
“This is certainly one of the poorest get-away attempts I’ve seen in my 32 years of police work,” said Dave Barr, a former police chief who now heads Golden West College’s Criminal Justice Training Center and the campus Public Safety department.