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Bank Customer Helped Police Track Murder Suspect

Posted November 27, 2007
Updated November 29, 2007

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— The scene outside the Domino's Pizza distribution center in Garner where Samuel James Cooper was arrested last week was preceded by a chase and a 911 call from Calvin Pendergraft.

Pendergraft was a customer at the Bank of America on Benson Road last Wednesday when, according to authorities, Cooper robbed the bank at gunpoint, fled in a white minivan and drove to the pizza business.

"He didn't run," Pendergraft said Tuesday, as news broke that Cooper, 30, of 2300 Creech Road in Raleigh, had been charged with five unsolved homicides in Wake County. "He was nonchalant. He walked every step of the way."

Cooper, he said, walked out of the bank, removed his mask and got into the minivan, Pendercraft said.

He followed Cooper, telling a Garner 911 operator where he was driving and what he was seeing.

"He made a right turn on Aversboro," Pendercraft says in the call, released Tuesday. "OK, the police just went by him." (Listen to the entire 911 call.)

With help from the description, Garner police were behind Cooper when, they say, he ditched abandoned the mini-van and ran into the Domino's where his mother worked.

His mother was consoled by fellow workers as her son was led away in handcuffs nearly an hour later.

Pendergraft said Tuesday he "just reacted" – and knowing, now, that Cooper is charged in connection with five homicides, he's glad he did.

"I don't know what hit me," he said. "Something hit me, and I did what I did."


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  • WRALSUCKS Nov 28, 2007

    Yes, with the history of the Criminal Justice system in NC, this animal may well be on the streets in a couple of years, which would place this Mr Pendergraff in significant peril.

  • cuteboyd Nov 28, 2007

    Good Job Mr. Pendergraft! It's so good to have people like him.

  • haggis basher Nov 28, 2007

    Well done!

  • djofraleigh Nov 27, 2007

    This CONCERNED citizen who put himself in peril to follow the bank robber also has likely saved at least one life by getting the man caught. He would NOT have been caught without Pendergraft's pursuit and CELL PHONE. Garner Police took the clues and did the rest -- good for them.

    The guys in the warehouse who took the money to NOT tell on the robber, now know they were shielding a murderer. I know they are wishing they had more time to think about what they did that day and would do it differently if they had to do it over again.

    There's something in an honest working man that despises a thief. A liar you can ignore, but a thief can't be watched close enough, long enough, to keep him from stealing.

    Cooper, somewhere down deep, wanted or didn't care to be caught. I think that because of his lack of care in his ways, even his escape. Remember, this world is not easy to exist in with comfort, but prison is a secure place for even some inmates...the proverbial briar patch.

  • Tax Man Nov 27, 2007

    thanks to this hero for helping nap this murderer

  • twc Nov 27, 2007

    I hope Cooper's confessions don't make him ineligible for the death penalty. Even though it may take years to euthanize him at least he'll be kept in extremely close confinement. Any less than that would be an injustice to the victims and the heroics of Citizen Pendergraft. Domino's needs to rid itself of some of its employees. Was his mother also aiding his escape like the ones that took the money to help him? My consolations go to the victims only!!!

  • Made In USA Nov 27, 2007

    Of all the stories that I have heard in a long time, this man should certainly receive a monentary reward from Crime Stoppers. No if, ands, or buts. A heafty one at that. He has probably saved who knows how many more lives from being taken by this evil person. This citizen is a hero!

  • wish_I_were_flyin Nov 27, 2007

    good job !

  • bomanicous Nov 27, 2007

    Good job Mr. P, I would've stayed anonymous for a while though. A reward would be well deserved!

  • wish_I_were_flyin Nov 27, 2007

    good job !!