A 25-year-old Lawrence man jumped in to help a police officer struggling to subdue a man suspected of attacking cars in traffic and caving in the roof of a Prius on Saturday night on the Kansas University campus.
Nicholas Ayre said he had never been in a fight before. But when he saw the man attacking a police officer in the 1300 block of West Campus Road, his first instinct was to get involved. With his help, the officer arrested Sol Sebastian Rhoad Starling, 19, of Shawnee, on charges of battery and destruction of property, according to Trent McKinley, a Lawrence Police Department spokesman.
According to police, the incident began on West Campus Road about 10:15 p.m. Saturday, when Starling ran into the street and punched the rear quarter panel of the Toyota 4Runner that Ayre was riding in. Ayre followed him, hoping to identify him for police, and saw Starling jump in front of, and climb onto, a 2004 Toyota Prius driven by Donald Low, 63, of Lawrence.
Ayre said he watched Starling jump up and down on the roof of the car, partially caving in the roof and cracking the windshield. The damage to the car was estimated at $3,000.
Starling fled as Lawrence police Sgt. Craig Shanks arrived on the scene and ran out of sight behind the Chi Omega sorority house. When Shanks approached him and asked for identification, Starling suddenly attacked the officer, according to Ayre and the police report.
“The kid was calm for a second, and then he just lost it,” Ayre said.
The officer tried to use a Taser on the attacking suspect but missed his target and lost the upper hand in the struggle. Ayre said he felt the officer needed a little help and didn’t think twice about getting involved.
“At that point, I was like, ‘game on,’” Ayre said. “I just reacted, and I thought I should just choke this kid out.”
Ayre did. He grabbed hold of Starling and helped the officer put him in handcuffs as other officers arrived. Starling was booked into Douglas County Jail on felony counts of battery against a law enforcement officer, criminal damage of property and obstruction. He was released on $3,500 bond.
McKinley, of the Lawrence Police Department, said that it wasn’t clear what was driving Starling’s behavior that night but that Ayre’s assistance to the officer was a good example of citizen involvement. Under these particular circumstances, he said, the officers involved generally appreciated it.
Ayre said he would do it again. And he doesn’t bear any ill will toward Starling, partly because he is only 19 years old.
“Everyone messes up once in their life. I just hope he had one bad night and finds himself in a better place,” Ayre said.
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