Lawrence County residents detain wanted man at gunpoint

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Ryan Denham is escorted to the Lawrence County Jail Wednesday night. (Photo: WHNT News 19)

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – A three-day crime spree in Lawrence County came to an abrupt Wednesday night. An accused crook emerged from a wooded area and directly into the gunsights of armed neighbors.

“It started at his grandfather’s house where he robbed and assaulted his grandfather,” according to Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell.

That was Sunday. Sheriff Mitchell says Ryan Thomas Denham also stole his grandfather’s car but wrecked it a short time later.

“Then on Monday afternoon, he robbed another lady in the East Lawrence area, all of this happened over there together, took her car and some money,” Mitchell said.

That car turned up Wednesday in a wooded area near a campsite where apparently Denham had been staying.

“From that point our guys just stayed with it, kept patrolling the area until things started developing and we finally got another call that he had just tried to rob another person out in that area of his vehicle,” Mitchell told WHNT News 19.

By then residents throughout the area had been warned. Many had armed themselves and were waiting to see when and where Ryan Denham would appear.

It all happened right in front of Debbie Albano. “He come out from the woods right back over here, there’s a tree line of woods and so Brian said he saw him and he started moving and he shot that gun up in the air. He had that rifle and then Brian told him, he said you better get down on the ground he said I’m fixin’ to put 50 in ya. And honey, he did what he said. He dropped that gun and got down on the ground and Brian just held him down there until, the cops had come out of the woods, they was following him and then dudes come from this way but it didn’t take but a minute,” Mrs. Albano explained.

And with that, Denham’s run was over. He was transported to the Lawrence County Jail where he faces a long list of charges.

“Clearly this guy picked the wrong place to come out of the woods…”

“Oh, he did. You don’t come out in Lawrence County without somebody having a gun,” Mrs. Albano said.

Bad guys, be warned.

By the way, Mrs. Albano’s neighbor, who first confronted Denham, was Brian Peters, a retired military man. Sheriff Mitchell says he plans to issue an award to Peters thanking him for his actions.