Resident honored for aid to police

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Robert Shamek was honored by the City Council last week for his part in the capture of two bank robbers in December.

During the Feb. 26 meeting, Mayor Craig Fentiman and Police Chief Bob Burford presented the Police Department’s public service award to Shamek. The award is given to a person who rises above the accepted norm for community service and performs a highly commendable or unusual action in distinguished service to the community, Burford said.

While concluding his business at the Wells Fargo Bank drive-through on Dec. 26, Shamek noticed a man cross the parking lot in a nervous and suspicious manner, Burford said. He watched as the man pulled a hood over his head.

Instead of leaving the bank, pondering the odd behavior, Burford said, Shamek stayed and continued to watch, becoming an important witness in a bank robbery case.

Shamek said the way the suspect moved, looking around and then turning suddenly and moving quickly into the bank as he pulled his hood over his head, tipped Shamek off,

“I’m like, am I seeing what I think I’m seeing? Is this for real?”

He stayed and watched, able to see clearly into the bank as the robbery unfolded.

Unfortunately, it was the one time he wasn’t carrying his cell phone, Shamek said.

“I was already moving by the time he set foot out the door,” Shamek said, wondering at that point whether he should run into the suspect.

Instead, he chose to follow, spinning his tires as he left the bank, Shamek said. “I’m surprised they didn’t think I was the getaway car.”

Shamek followed the suspects’ vehicle long enough to get a license plate number and then returned to the bank where he gave a thorough statement.

“I wasn’t nervous until I actually made it back to the bank,” Shamek said. His adrenaline was running so high, his hands were shaking by then, he said.

It was exciting, he said, but certainly not fun, but he did get to do some “tricky, illegal passing maneuvers.”

“In great part, due to your actions, both men were arrested within minutes and have been sentenced to prison terms,” Burford told Shamek at the council meeting. Now they are under investigation in other bank robberies.

“Your actions were prudent but not foolhardy,” Burford said.

“I thought it was super cool the city is wanting to acknowledge its citizens that are willing to help out,” Shamek said. “I’m hoping I did what just about anybody would’ve done in my situation.”

It didn’t feel like anything special, Shamek said. It was just what he was supposed to do.

About a week earlier, he and his wife had talked about seeing things like that on TV, he said, wondering why people in those situations don’t seem to do anything about them.

Sometimes, he would wish he was there just to see what he would do, Shamek said.

Shamek, 33, was born and raised in Sweet Home.

Councilmen present at the meeting were Eric Markell, Scott McKee Jr., Jim Bean, Rich Rowley and Fentiman.

In other business, the council will decide at its next meeting, March 11, whether to change the north end of 13th Avenue between Long and Main streets from 15-minute parking to two-hour parking.

The Traffic Safety Committee reviewed the existing parking regulations and has recommended extending the time vehicles may be parked there.

“It is more reflective of the type of business we have in the area,” City Manager Craig Martin said. It also is in keeping with what downtown development consultants have said in the past.

The change would affect 13th Avenue from Main Street to the alleyway on both sides of the street.

The west side of the street is adjacent to Steelhead gym. The east side is adjacent to the recently closed Grove’s Pharmacy. The west side of 13th Avenue south of the alley to Long Street will expressly remain 15-minute parking because it is used as a loading zone by Santiam Feed. The east side of the street between the alley and Long Street, adjacent to Levi’s Place, is already two-hour parking.

The City Council considered the issue on Feb. 26, but the resolution prepared for council members’ consideration included only one side of the street.