It was not the home of the free on July 4 — at least not for James Myers, because that was the day the escaped prison inmate was tackled to the ground by a man wearing an American flag shirt.
WEWS-TV reported that Myers, who is serving a life sentence for rape, escaped from Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio on July 3, and made it as far as the Olivesburg General Store, 13 miles away.
It was there, as he stood by the store’s ice cream counter, above a mugshot of his face, that store patron Mark Cooper noticed who Myers was.
“I knew it was him as soon as I saw him,” Cooper told NewsNet5.
After making sure his wife and child were safe in their car, Cooper called 911 and returned into the store.
“I’m confident enough in my strength that once I grab ahold of somebody like that, they’re not going to get back up,” he said.
Store video shows Cooper walking directly toward Myers, putting him in a full nelson and slamming him to the floor. Cooper clocks in at 6 feet 4 inches and weighs 320 pounds, several inches and more than a hundred pounds more than the escaped felon.
Store employee Greg Galloway, who was serving Myers, had made eye contact with Cooper before the takedown.
“We were on the same page,” Galloway said. “He said, ‘I think that’s the guy too.’”
Once he was on the ground, Myers asked to be let go, but didn’t fight for freedom.
“The guy wasn’t moving at all down there. It was just a sense of safety when he had him down there,” Gallaway said.
Two other customers helped tie Myers up using twine, and Ohio state highway patrol officials arrived within minutes to arrest the escapee.
Tackling a sexual predator is the sort of behavior people who know Cooper expect from him.
“He did the American thing, on the Fourth of July especially,” a friend told reporters.
Myers was taken back to prison after being on the loose for 20 hours. He was the first detainee to escape from the facility since Dec. 2011, when an inmate outside the prison walked away.
Watch Cooper speak with WEWS, as aired Friday: