Timothy Johnson knew something was wrong when his car door was open in the garage early Friday morning.
He had been home about 15 minutes after taking his son to the bus, started looking around and saw a suspicious young man across St. Ives Place in his neighbor’s yard about 6:30 a.m.
He asked the man if he lived in the neighborhood and the suspect became belligerent, Johnson said.
“We just got in a fuss back and forth and the next thing you know he got up in my face,” he said. “We got in each others’ faces and the next thing you know we got into a fist fight.”
He knew the man was up to no good by the way he responded to the inquiry, Johnson said.
“I told my wife to call the police,” he said. “Me and him were scuffling on the ground there for a while until the police got here and got it under control.”
Peggy Triplett did not hear the man in her yard just about dawn.
“I’m glad he didn’t get in because it would have been devastating,” said Triplett, who is a retired head of security for the District of Columbia.
After a neighbor called, she went to the door to find several Bibb County Sheriff’s Office patrol cars and a Mid Georgia ambulance crew on St. James Place.
EMTs bandaged Johnson’s left knee and he had a nick over his right eye.
“Bless his heart,” said Triplett, who was proud of her neighbor’s quick action. “He was a hero because I was in the bed asleep. ... This is a way to wake up.”
It was not immediately clear the extent of any injuries to the suspect, who was pinned on the ground until officers arrived.
The sheriff’s office had not released his identity or any charges against him by late Friday.
“Just a guy in the neighborhood looking to break into other people’s houses,” Johnson said. “Police say he already was a suspect breaking into people’s houses around here, him and another guy.”
Johnson’s grown daughter was in bed when she heard someone juggle the garage doorknob, but figured her father would see about it.
“That’s just really scary,” said Jalissa Johnson, who was holding two little children. “It makes you not want to be home alone.”
The family’s brown and black Yorkie fled in the commotion.
“I didn’t know it was going to get out of hand like this,” said Timothy Johnson, who shrugged off accolades.
“I don’t call myself a hero. I’m just being concerned about what’s going on. I’m trying to protect my family, my property and I was concerned for my neighbor across the street because I know they would do the same for us.”