Mike Ditmars, a Prince George's County physical education teacher, chased a burglar suspect for five blocks yesterday, knocked a knife from his hands and tied him up with a rope before police arrived.
Ditmars did not know at the time that police believe the suspect is wanted for two armed robberies.
"I'm no hero and I don't want everyone making a big thing out of this hero nonsense, "Ditmars,, 31, said yesterday following the early morning incident. "I was just trying to take a stand, to do something for my neighbourhood."
Ditmars, coaches track at Robert Goddard Junior HIgh School in Seabrook, decided to take his stand after his home at 5102 Mineola Rd. in College Park was bulglarized Monday afternoon.
"I was on the ninth tee at Paint Branch Country Club at 3 p.m. when one of my neighbours came up to tell me my house had been broken into," Ditmars said. "By the time I got home the police were already dusting the house for prints."
Ditmars went to check his backyard and found his stereo under some beach towels next to a wooden shed. "I had a pretty good idea of who had done it," Ditmars said. "And I decided if he came back I could probably catch him myself."
Ditmars consulted police. They told him if he wanted to try to catch the burglar it was his business, but they certainly couldn't encourage him to risk it.
Ditmars decided to give it a try.
Just after midnight, as he waited in his yard with a rope, Ditmars heard someone come over the fence. But when he reached for him, the suspect pulled away and fled.
Ditmars chased him for five blocks before both tired. "While he was running my car keys fell out of his pocket. Then he returned around holding a knife. My hunting knife."
Ditmars backed the man into a fence, fending him off with his rope. He said he was nicked once on the neck by the knife when the suspect swiped at him.
"When he was against the fence, I kicked the door against his arm and he dropped the knife. Then he started running again."
Ditmars caught the man quickly and had him tied completely when police arrived, responding to a call for a fight.
Police said James R. Wallace, 18, of 5008 Nantucket Rd., College Park, was charged with assault with intent to murder, burglary and two counts of armed robbery in connection with two holdups last month. He was being held at the county detention center yesterday without bond.