Neighbors fight back after man attacks elderly woman in her own home

by DIANA RUGG / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Diana: DRugg@wcnc.com

 Posted on January 9, 2010 at 11:35 PM

 CHARLOTTE, N.C.– A man with a prison record dating back to the 1970’s has been arrested for attacking an elderly man and woman during a home invasion – and the victims say police caught the man because neighbors got to him first, and beat him up.
 
Alma Caldwell, 81, said she was familiar with the man who attacked her because he would come around sometimes asking for money.  Thursday, she said the man talked his way into Caldwell’s home when a friend answered the door.   Before she knew it, he had grabbed a kitchen knife out of her hand and was using it to threaten her.
 
“He said, ‘I got your knife now’ “– Caldwell held up her hand as if she’s holding a knife — ” ‘I’m gonna kill you.”  The sudden move startled her.  “I was scared to death!”
 
Her friend William Graham, 84, came to her rescue.  Graham had been staying with Caldwell while she was sick.   Caldwell said the man wrestled Graham to the floor and held the knife to him.
 
As the two struggled, Graham said he grabbed the blade of the knife with his left hand.   He held up his hand to show the scar across his finger.
 
“I was holding the knife to keep him from stabbing me,” said Graham. “I didn’t want to get stabbed.”   Graham’s actions allowed Caldwell time to make her move.  She jumped up from her chair — and knocked over a bike that was propped up nearby.  It wasn’t much, but it was enough to startle their attacker.     
 
“He thought I had a gun or something,” she said.
 
The man grabbed about $300 out of Graham’s pocket and ran out the door.    Caldwell said police caught up with the suspect a few hours later — after neighbors caught up with him first.
 
“They beat him up,” said Caldwell — saying her long-time neighbors were upset she and Graham were attacked in their home.
 
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police confirm they arrested Henry Ellis Gainey, 48, after they were called to a disturbance a few blocks from Caldwell’s home.  He was was being beaten by bystanders, and was taken to the hospital for treatment before he was taken to jail. 
 
Police arrested Gainey on an outstanding warrant, but charged him with burglary, robbery, and assault in connection to Caldwell and Graham’s attack.
 
Gainey has a long prison record in North Carolina, dating back to 1978.  He has spent most of the last 30 years in prison, and has been arrested two other times in Mecklenburg County in the last three years.  Jail records show he got out of jail one day before Caldwell’s home invasion.
 
Caldwell and Graham say they’re glad their alleged attacker is back behind bars, and they’re grateful for each other — and the neighbors who look out for them.
 
“We always feel safe together,” said Graham, “and help one another.”

Published in: on January 10, 2010 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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