It’s not the first high-speed chase Clint Rickey has seen blow by his taxidermy store. The chase Tuesday morning was the second one he has seen in the last year, but the first one he has been directly involved in.
“It's almost getting believable. It really, really is,” Rickey said.
The doors to Rickey Ridge Taxidermy are almost always locked. But around 10:30 a.m., Rickey was letting a customer out when another person was frantically trying to get in.
“It was incredibly perfect timing that that happened the way it did,” Rickey said. “I'm open by appointment only all day long, and if someone doesn't call to come here, I don't answer the door, because I'm always in the back working.”
It took Rickey a few moments to believe why the man said he was there.
“He said he was in a hostage situation. It took me quite awhile to realize that he was telling the truth,” Rickey said.
Rickey led the alleged hostage into the back room of the shop. The man asked to call his wife, but Rickey dialed 911 instead.
With the phone up to his ear and dispatch on the other line, Rickey watched James Kruger get out of the stolen truck. Kruger was on the run from police, thought to have picked up the hostage in Cassville. Police also believe he invaded a home and stole weapons.
When Rickey heard about those weapons, he grabbed his gun. By this time, Kruger was at the door.
“When he did get to the door and started knocking on the door we shut the door and locked ourselves in here, and it wasn't 30 seconds later that the sheriff's department was here,” Rickey said.
Rickey heard the sirens and Kruger pealing out of his parking lot. After a high-speed pursuit, Kruger crashed another stolen vehicle on highway 18/151 and was arrested. Police said Kruger will likely face a number of felonies and possibly federal charges.
Long after authorities questioned the hostage and took him away, Rickey is still processing the perfect timing that might have saved his life.
“I don't know. It took a couple of hours to really realize what really happened. Maybe I still don't right now, but yeah, it's pretty funny how things work out,” said Rickey.