Good Samaritan helps thwart Kingsport robbery

Hannah Swayze • Aug 8, 2017 at 5:13 PM

KINGSPORT — City police say a good Samaritan, along with a school resource officer in the right place at the right time, helped catch a robber who attacked a woman to snatch her purse, then fled a hit-and-run.

According to a press release from the Kingsport Police Department, the suspect, John T. Ashworth, 26, spotted a woman outside the Zoomerz gas station, 1673 Fort Henry Drive at 6:45 a.m. She was reportedly counting a “significant sum of cash” in plain sight. Police say that Ashworth followed her in his truck as she rode her bike across the street to the Crown Plaza Shopping Center.

After circling her in his truck, Ashworth allegedly approached on foot and snatched her purse, shoving her and the bike to the ground as she was trying to leave. The police say a bystander, whose name was not provided, parked his own vehicle in front of Ashworth’s to try to prevent his escape.  Ashworth allegedly accelerated, pushed the witness’ vehicle out of the way and sped out of the parking lot. The good Samaritan followed. 

At the same time, a KPD school resource officer, who happened to stop by the location on his way to work, discovered the victim on the ground and the vehicles leaving the parking lot. The officer then pursued the vehicles.

Ashworth was soon discovered by multiple police officers on nearby Pineola Avenue. He had reportedly abandoned his vehicle in a random driveway and was “nonchalantly walking away.” He was apprehended without incident, according to police, and was still in possession of the woman’s money.

The release adds: “Ashworth openly admitted to officers that he saw her counting the money, could tell that she was not really paying attention to her surroundings, and would therefore be an easy target.”

In light of the incident, the KPD encourages following basic personal safety tips: Do not display money and valuables in public and practice good situational awareness by paying attention to your surroundings.

In the release, the KPD also commended the good Samaritan: “In a day and age where most people find it easier to simply look the other way, he clearly went above and beyond.”

Ashworth, 428 Arrow Circle, Kingsport, is currently held in the Kingsport city jail on charges of robbery, aggravated assault, leaving the scene of a crash and failure to have insurance.