Hollywood's Buford Pusser, the club-wielding hero of 1973's "Walking Tall," has nothing on state Sen. Paul Koering.
Koering, who owns Max's Package Liquor in Brainerd, scared off two would-be robbers Saturday night with a wooden club left behind by the previous owners of the Ninth Street liquor store in downtown Brainerd.
"I really just kind of exploded into a rage," the Fort Ripley Republican said, recalling how he pulled the club from behind the counter, slammed it down on the counter and then took a swing at the suspects, prompting them to flee on foot.
Sen. Paul Koering used a wooden club to scare off two suspected robbers at liquor store.
Koering, who had just returned to the liquor store about 20 minutes before the incident, was sitting in an easy chair watching television when two men wearing hooded sweatshirts and scarves over their faces entered the store about 8 p.m. The lawmaker said when he asked what he could do for them they tapped the cash register with an aluminum baseball bat, and said, "This is what we'll have."
Koering said the would-be robbers fled toward the south side of the Moose Lodge after he swung the bat and yelled "a few choice words" at them. He pursued them briefly and threw his club toward them but they escaped.
"I thank God there wasn't somebody else working for me," Koering said. "It was kind of surreal. I don't know why I reacted the way I did."
He said the previous owners had said the only trouble they had experienced was when someone grabbed a bottle of liquor and ran away.
"As Brainerd continues to grow these are some of the things that come with growth," Koering said. "It's sad."
Brainerd Police Chief John Bolduc said the suspects were described as two black males, about 6 feet tall, light skinned, wearing hooded sweatshirts and scarves. He said the department is continuing to investigate the case. Bolduc cautioned people in similar situations about confronting criminals.
"I would not advise people to confront armed suspects," he said. "You just don't know. In this case, it worked out. For whatever amount of money, it's not worth one's being injured or assaulted with a weapon."
Koering said he was glad he made the decision to brandish his club.
"I hope it sends the message that Brainerd people aren't going to just lay down to crime moving in," he said.
MIKE O'ROURKE can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5860.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.