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Citizens thwart a pair of career criminals

Ronald Butler and Edward Kaletka are behind bars after citizens team up
by: photo courtesy clackamas county sheriff's office, Edward Anthony Kaletka

A group of ordinary citizens rallied last week to thwart the machinations of two career criminals and help police put them safely behind bars.

'This is an extraordinary example of concerned citizens coming together to help one another,' said Detective Jim Strovink, public information officer for the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.

The incident began at 10:35 a.m. on Sept. 25, when Deborah Eurich observed a 1995 maroon Cadillac sedan cruising in the vicinity of 12300 SE Hubbard Road in Clackamas.

'The vehicle was driving back and forth in the neighborhood, and she noticed the two subjects inside,' Strovink said. 'One guy gets dropped off with a large black satchel bag, and he's talking to the other guy on a walkie-talkie.

'A few minutes later, the guy comes back and the satchel bag is full: he has to carry it with both arms.'

Eurich pointed out the miscreants to her brother, David Zapata and called 9-1-1, alerting authorities to the pair. Zapata got in his own car and followed them to the Space Age gas station on Highway 212. As he drove, he used his cell phone to keep the police apprised of the suspects' whereabouts.

At the fueling station, Clackamas County Sheriff's deputies Mary Nunn, Gil Millett and Dave Willard began their investigation, confronting one of the two suspects: Ronald Edward Butler. The other man, Anthony Edward Kaletka, had crossed the street to buy a sandwich.

The pair was already well-known to the sheriff's office. Butler has been arrested on 27 previous occasions on charges of burglary, trespassing and theft. Kaletka had 14 prior arrests for similar crimes, in addition to forgery and escape - the crime of fleeing from police custody.

'These are genuine bad guys,' said Strovink. 'Sheriff Roberts used to catch these guys years ago when we was out on patrol.'

Kaletka returned to the car, where Butler had surrendered peacefully to the deputies.

'They were attempting to handcuff Kaletka and he just came around and blindsided Deputy Willard with his elbow - it just about broke his jaw,' Strovink said. 'He was able to flinch at the last second so he didn't take the full force of the blow, but it knocked him back.'

Running free, Kaletka headed towards a nearby Airgas dealership, where James Schone had parked his company truck and gone inside to purchase welding supplies.

Schone recalled: 'The guy behind the counter looked out the window, and he said to me, 'Do you have a helper out there in your truck?' I said, 'No,' and went outside to check.'

He found Kaletka in the front seat of his truck. After Schone chased him out, Kaletka ran about 100 yards further down the road, to where 65-year-old John Himes was sitting in his truck.

'I had just picked up a bottle of welding gas and I was ready to leave, and this guy comes running up to my truck,' said Himes. 'He motioned for me to roll down my window. He was really frantic - he kept saying, 'Please, please take me with you!''

Himes agreed to help him, and started clearing a pile of paperwork off his passenger-side seat.

'He came around and got in even before I had a chance to finish,' Himes said.

Watching from his truck, Schone realized that Himes was in danger of being hijacked and ran after him.

'I reached inside and tried to grab the keys,' said Schone. 'I told the guy behind the wheel to turn it off.'

Becoming suspicious of his new passenger, Himes switched off the ignition.

'The guy sitting there beside me tried to turn it back on and he started yelling, 'Go! Go right now!' said Himes.

When he refused, Kaletka climbed out of the truck and ran off towards a nearby industrial area.

Reflecting on his experience afterwards, Himes said, 'I'm sure if that guy hadn't come out, I would have taken him down the road a little ways and he would have bonked me over the head and taken my truck, or worse.

'He was a dangerous character, this guy - he was hard-nosed.'

Even as more sheriff's deputies arrived on the scene and set up a perimeter, Schone continued his own personal pursuit.

'There were cops all over the place, but I thought maybe this guy was still going to get away,' he said. 'I saw him lie down between a truck and a van like he was going to hide, so I flagged the cops over that way.'

Taser drawn, Deputy Willard confronted Kaletka in the industrial area.

'He refused to submit to the deputies' lawful commands, so they tasered him,' Strovink said, recounting the pursuit.

The first dart did not make good contact with Kaletka's skin, rendering it ineffective, so Willard applied it again at point-blank range. At that point, Kaletka stopped resisting and fell face-first to the ground. He was treated at the scene by paramedics from American Medical Response and then transported to Kaiser Sunnyside for a medical check. He and Butler were subsequently lodged at the Clackamas County Jail, pending trial.

Butler is held on $65,000 bail and faces three charges stemming from the incident: Burglary I, Theft I and Felon in Possession of Body Armor. Kaletka's bond has been set at $115,000. In addition to the charges facing Butler, he has also been accused with Parole Violation, two counts of Escape II, Assaulting a Public Safety Officer and Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.

Strovink had high praise for all of the private citizens who participated in the apprehension of the pair, referring to them as heroes and offering his congratulations. For his part, Schone would have preferred to avoid the public praise and all of the attention he has gotten from the media.

'I'm a low key kind of guy -I go to work, do my job, come home and relax with my wife,' he said. 'I just try to do the right thing.'