A Seattle man who calls himself "Phoenix Jones" appears to have taken 2010's comic book film "Kick-Ass" to heart.
Like the main character in the independently produced hero fantasy, Jones has taken it upon himself to dress in a colorful outfit and roam the streets looking for crime.
And on Sunday night, while trolling the streets of the Seattle suburb Lynnwood, he found one.
A man, who asked local reporters to identify him only as Dan, said his car was almost broken into by an unknown criminal when out of nowhere a masked man in a "skin-tight rubber, black and gold suit" rushed in and chased the crook away.
His heroics caught the attention of KIRO Eyewitness News, which went up-close with Jones, the self-named "Guardian of Seattle."
He carries mace and tear gas, and a stun prod for fighting off criminals. Jones's outfit was also equipped with stab plates and bullet-proof material, he said.
Jones is just one of a team that calls itself the "Rain City Superhero Movement," which calls to arms regular citizens who are sick of waiting for others to take direct action against criminals. They base their principles on the "Real Life Superhero Movement," a website formed after comic book icon Stan Lee's television show "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" caught on in 2006.
"Officially, a Real Life Superhero is whoever chooses to embody the values presented in superheroic comic books, not only by donning a mask/costume, but also performing good deeds for the communitarian place whom he inhabits," the "movement" declared on its website. "You don't necessarily need to engage in a violent fight to be a crime fighter - you might patrol and report whatever crime you see. So basically, terms like 'good deed' or 'crime fighting' are open to various interpretations."
Adherents are encouraged to take action in their communities by posting flyers about missing persons, handing out food and clothing to homeless people, raising awareness of unsolved crimes and even donating blood.
The "Rain City" group first made waves in November, when Seattle police were notified that costumed vigilantes were paroling the streets under names like "Buster Doe," "The Green Reaper," "Thorn," "No Name, "Gemini," "Catastrophe," "Penelope" and "Thunder 88."
When Jones was interviewed by the local police, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted, he was not in costume and claimed that it was being repaired after he was stabbed while fighting a drug dealer. Police said they weren't sure if he was really injured or not, and warned him that future crime fighting endeavors could cost him his life.
"I don't condone people walking around on the street with masks," Jones was quoted as saying. "Everyone on my team either has a military background or a mixed martial arts background, and we're well aware of what its costs to do what we do."
Local police have encouraged Seattle residents to avoid getting involved with actively fighting crime, urging them to report suspicious activity by dialing 911 instead.
This video is from KIRO Eyewitness News in Seattle, broadcast Jan. 5, 2010.