When Neighbor Helps Neighbor

by Diane Dimond on July 5, 2010

My American Heroes!

This is the America I told my daughter we lived in when she was growing up.

“If you’re ever in trouble, honey, just ask your neighbor for help. Find a policeman if you can.”

On a bright sun-shiny day in Chapel Hill, North Carolina a few weeks ago there was no time for a girl — let’s call her Sally —  to ask for help. As this 18 year old daughter jogged along the streets of her university town she was suddenly set upon by a fiend. A car rolled up, a would-be kidnapper jumped out and hit Sally in the face with a blast of pepper spray.

She didn’t have time to ask for help but Sally’s neighbors stepped up anyway. Two brothers, Joey and Freddie Shelton ran to her aid. They are American heroes in my book.

“We were raised right,” Joey says

The Sheltons had never met the young woman but as Joey said, “Just the sight of a man treating a woman like that in broad daylight was wrong.” The brothers didn’t stop to think as they saw the terrified young woman and a man trying to haul her into his car.

They quickly pulled their vehicle to a spot to try to block in the attacker’s car. With rescue imminent the perp dropped the struggling Sally and jumped into his car to speed away. In the process he hit Joey, not once but twice, sending him spinning like a top and up into the windshield with such force that Joey’s upper body cracked the glass. Joey was tossed into the street and left with an injured shoulder and a badly fractured back.

But Sally was alive, safe and able to celebrate her 19th birthday the next day.

Another neighbor driving by, Melissa Williams, didn’t understand exactly what was happening when she saw Joey lying in the street but she was sharp enough to follow the attacker and jot down the license plate number. 26 year old Theodore Walker was arrested a short time later and in his car, police say, they found a loaded shotgun, a baseball bat and he carried a pocketful of condoms. During a court hearing it was mentioned that Walker may suffer from a mental illness.

Suspect Theodore James Walker

Since Walker’s mug shot hit the news four other young women have come forward to say he tried to abduct them too. One of the women was hospitalized in critical condition.

The town of Chapel Hill has embraced their heroes realizing it could have been any one of their daughters or sisters or nieces or cousins who needed help that day. Such selflessness needs to be honored.

The Mayor held a ceremony for the Good Samaritan brothers, along with Ms. Williams. They were all given special certificates and symbolic keys to the town. Mike Miles, a local businessman whose office window overlooks the scene where the attempted kidnapping played out, was so moved he started a fund at the local RBC bank with a thousand dollars out of his own pocket. Since then, the bank reports they’ve gotten donations from all over North Carolina as well as from other locations where the story has spread.

UNC Health Care has announced it will absorb the cost of Joey’s hospital treatments so the fund can go for his home

Honored: Melissa Williams, Joey and Freddie Shelton – All Heroes

care, medical supplies and missed work. The 51 year old Joey is a part time barber and chauffeur, his 50 year old brother, Freddie, recently returned to the state after having been laid off by Boeing in Seattle. The money, at this time in their lives, is a God-send.

When I spoke to Joey Shelton he came across as a humble man who couldn’t believe all the celebrity-like attention he’s been getting. “It’s just mind blowing,” he said. “The love and support and appreciation! It’s wild – after turning 50 you think it’s gonna all be downhill.”

Some people might not even have notice Sally’s plight or deliberately turned away from helping, not wanting to get involved. I had to ask: Why did Joey and Freddie jump right in?

“Looking at her face, how terrified she was. She needed help,” he told me. “I find it hard to believe that anyone who saw what we saw wouldn’t have stopped to help.” Since the incident they’ve all gotten to know each other better, they have had meals and long conversations about the future.

All We Really Have Is – Each Other!

By the way, the Sheltons are black, Sally is white and that fact somehow gives me even more hope that the America I taught my daughter to believe in really does exist. Neighbors helping neighbors stay safe with no regard to skin color.

The brothers could have turned a blind when they spotted the attack at the side of the road. “Instinct just kicked in,” Joey told me. “Doing the right thing comes from what you are taught. I was taught right.” Joey says he and Freddie were simply raised to help others in need.

Let’s all be sure to raise our kids like that.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane July 5, 2010 at 1:26 am

ABQ Journal Reader Paula H. Stewart writes:

“Thank you for another great article in my Albuquerque Journal today! This story about the Shelton Brothers helping Sally! Wow! What a wonderful story for the 4th of July, when I’m feeling cynical with all the sad news, concerned about the state of our world, and then this inspiring, ‘can’t help but smile’ story!

What wonderful people the Sheltons are, I wish I were wealthy, I would send them and their families money, these are the reasons we should be donating money for! But I wonder, why are only you telling us about this? Why aren’t they on the ‘Today’ show, CNN or other news outlets?? Why is it the Kate Goesslins, The Jersey Shore Kids, and all those other idiots on, getting attention, getting money for their ridiculously dumb exploits?? Please help me out with this about your colleagues!

I digress, if you have any contact with Sally, please let her know I am so thankful she is safe…and please, please if you can let the Shelton Brothers know I am so grateful there are people like this in our world, and they are ‘Great Americans’!

Thank you so much Diane, for bringing this to our attention, and for all your great work!!”

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Diane July 5, 2010 at 1:27 am

ABQ Journal Reader Sally Smith writes:

“I enjoy your editorials through the Albuquerque Journal. Today’s editorial regarding Joey and Freddie Shelton’s heroic actions in saving the young woman in Chapel Hill was a delight to read and brought hope for those of us who ask, “What’s happening to mankind today”.

Thank you for reminding us that there continues to be thoughtful men and women in our midst.

I would like to send a check to these fine gentlemen but am hesitant to mail it under their name, to Chapel Hill, NC. Could you please provide me with a safe address for my check.

Thank you, Thank you.”

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Diane July 5, 2010 at 1:29 am

ABQ Journal Reader Deb Rubolino writes:

“Your story about the Shelton brothers brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for the heartwarming story. It was on page 7 of the Albuquerque Journal. If only the GOOD news was on the FRONT page! I have a cousin in NC, so it’s nice to know there are good people there who would help a young woman in need. It made me smile that the men are a different race than the woman, having grown up on Long Island with friends of all races. They were “just” our friends, regardless of their color (I’m an Italian American). I was also a little surprised at their ages! I was picturing guys in their 20s! Yeah for us 50 year olds!

Thank you for reporting that story. We’ll pray for Joey’s quick recovery.”

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Jackie Chesnutt July 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Terrific story! Thanks for reminding us that good deeds and good people are all around us. The Shelton brothers are new additions to my list of heroes!

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Lyn July 5, 2010 at 9:43 pm

How wonderful to read something positive for a change instead of all the negative stuff. They are true heroes.

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Pattee Mack July 5, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Wow–unbelievable story, and definitely inspirational. It’s nice to hear good news about people once in a while.

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Diane July 5, 2010 at 10:54 pm

DD Web Site Reader Jeff Hughes writes:

“I would do the same thing to help!! Thank God for people like these!!”

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Diane July 6, 2010 at 12:05 am

Facebook Friend Dian Crystal writes:

“Diane,
Thanks for sharing this story… The Shelton Brothers, are, in my eyes, HEROES!!! They were taught right, and I know that they have passed the lessons they were taught on to their children… I am very proud of them… They give me hope for all mankind…”

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Diane July 6, 2010 at 12:06 am

Facebook Friend (and Cousin!) Laurie Hughes Williams writes:

“Like you, this story fills me with hope! God bless the Shelton brothers.”

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Diane July 6, 2010 at 12:06 am

Facebook Friend Darryl DuPont writes:

” If the world was made up of people all like the Shelton brothers… What a wonderful place it would be. “

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Diane July 6, 2010 at 12:07 am

Facebook Friend Jackie Morin writes:

” Heaven sends us Angels. We just can’t see their wings! That is the definition of love, to my mind!! ?”

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Diane July 6, 2010 at 12:08 am

Facebook Friend Yvonne Marten Ebstein writes;

“Wow ! The Shelton brothers may have saved many future lives. What care they have in their hearts for others. Beautiful report, Diane.”

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Diane July 6, 2010 at 12:08 am

Facebook Friend Ronald Jeffries Tallman writes:

” Wow that is an awesome story Diane. Stay with that one there is sure to be more positives coming from that.

Any corp/bus or other entity looking for solid employees please consider Joey or Freddie. Character, concern and caring do matter.

When the world eventually becomes colorless you can say it is stories like these may have paved the way.”

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dave July 7, 2010 at 9:11 pm

That story made me feel good about America. Having worked in television news, the theory “if it bleeds, it leads” runs amok across the newscasts. this story would never get priority so, this refreshing story from Chapel Hill inspires me. I am so glad that those men were honored, and kudos to the guy who started the fund. great article, and i look forward to many more on your site Diane.

dave in LA

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