Robbins Board Honors Two Heroes
The mayor and Robbins Town Board on Thursday hailed two residents of the town as heroes.
One stopped to help a bleeding gunshot victim get to safety. Another ran into a burning house and rescued a 2-year-old boy.
At about 3 p.m. on Aug. 29, Darrell Lee Rouse had left his job at American Growler and was on his way home. A bleeding man ran into the street from a burning home, waving for help. Rouse stopped and rushed the man — Juan Carlos Sanchez, 29 — to the police station.
Sanchez had three .32-caliber bullet wounds in his back. He was treated at the police station by Emergency Medical Services personnel and taken to the hospital.
Behind, in a front room of his house, firefighters later discovered the bodies of Santana Vernal Sanchez, 28, and Apolonio Barrita Bustamonte.
“They were both burned beyond recognition,” Police Chief Jeff Sheffield said later. “We had to wait for identification based on dental records.”
Sanchez is back home with family members now. The deceased woman found in the home was his cousin.
As Rouse was speeding Sanchez to help, a neighbor, Richard Matthew Pope, saw the fire. Pope rushed in the back door to rescue a 2-year-old boy he thought must be there. Three older children were in school, according to Sheffield.
Robbins police, with assistance from the State Bureau of Investigation and the Moore County Sheriff’s Office, determined that Bustamonte murdered Santana Sanchez — his former girlfriend and mother of his 2-year-old child — then shot Juan Sanchez before setting the house on fire and killing himself, Sheffield said.
The mother apparently had moved away from Bustamonte to live at the house with two cousins for protection. The older children are now living with their biological father in another county.
“The two bodies were in a front bedroom,” Sheffield said. “The little boy was in a back part of the house where Mr. Pope found him. He took the boy out and didn’t try to get into the front part.”
At Thursday’s meeting, Mayor Theron Bell and the town commissioners proclaimed Pope and Rouse as heroes and presented both men with plaques honoring their actions and recognizing publicly their “exemplary conduct and outstanding performance” in an emergency.
“Darrell Lee Rouse recognized an emergency situation and rendered immediate aid in response to a gentleman in distress,” Bell said, reading from his plaque. “Darrell Lee Rouse displayed heroism, compassion and consideration by helping a gentleman that had been wounded out of harm’s way by getting him the medical attention that he desperately needed.”
Family, friends, workers and bosses from American Growler stood to clap and cheer for Rouse. His family surrounded him for photos. Bell praised his heroism in ignoring any possible danger to himself.
“You might have saved his life by giving him that ride,” Bell said. “We appreciate it. Most people run away from gunshots. You went toward them. Thank you very much.”
She then called Pope before the board. Pope, 21, and soon to be father of a little girl, walked up to accept his plaque. He lives not far from the ruins of that house, and is looking for full-time work.
“He recognized an emergency and rendered immediate aid in response to a house fire — displayed heroism, courage, selfless compassion and determination in this tragic event,” Bell read from the plaque. “His courageous actions led to saving the life of a child.”
Pope’s family gathered around him as more applause filled the room. At that point, Bell recessed the meeting to welcome the two heroes, their families and friends, to join the board for refreshments.
Contact John Chappell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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