By David Macaulay
The Daily Press, February 16, 2012
Kelvin White sometimes gets uncomfortable when strangers approach him on the street. But that is not nearly as bad as the dreams he has almost nightly of people out to kill him. Almost four months after White tackled a man accused of posing as an FBI agent in a robbery at Food Lion at Newmarket Square in Hampton and was shot by another man, he is still suffering from excruciating pain from the bullet that shattered his right leg.
White is a quiet and unassuming man unaccustomed to the minor celebrity status created by interviews with local media. He spends most of his days recovering at his home on Decatur Street in Newport News. He still requires a cane to walk but is more mobile than in the weeks after the incident when he was unable to move his leg.
He remains on leave from his job. A cookout is planned at Hampton police headquarters on Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to raise money for White and his family.
THE INCIDENT White is a sales representative for Chesbay, a job that requires him to deliver beer to some of the toughest parts of Hampton Roads. He said the Food Lion at Newmarket Square did not appear to be as dangerous as other stores.
The morning of Oct. 21 seemed like any other. White arrived at the store just before it opened at 7 a.m. As he sat in his truck, he noticed two men dressed in black walking across the parking lot.
He thought it strange that they were carrying briefcases and wearing sunglasses when it wasn’t fully light. He went into the store to work, and later noticed an assistant manager being escorted to the back of the store by one of the men in black.
The assistant manager appeared tense. White asked her if she was all right. She nodded but he wasn’t convinced. He didn’t know it at the time, but the men were later accused of strapping fake explosives to the bodies of the assistant manager and another female member of the staff. White said the man became aggressive with him and told him he was “special security for the store.” White said the man was wearing a gold badge and a bullet-proof vest. “I said, ‘You don’t look like no security I’ve ever seen,’ ” White said.
White overheard the assistant manager saying the store was being robbed. The man White was talking to called his accomplice on his cell phone. White said the other man showed up with a gun. “As soon as I saw the gun, I grabbed his friend. I took a knife I had concealed and put it to his throat,” White said. A struggle ensued.
The other man started firing the gun, sending shoppers scattering in all directions. White said he plunged his knife into the back of the man he was holding. White ran through the store followed by gunshots.
One caught him in the back of the leg and he fell. The bullets kept coming, White said. “When I got up and tried to run, I saw my leg was dangling. I couldn’t move,” White said. Blood was spreading across the store floor from the wound.
He expected the gunman to come and finish him off as he lay on the floor clutching his knife. But the robbers ran from the store with just a small amount of cash. Two men have been arrested in connection with the robbery. Emmanuel Norman, 27, pleaded guilty in December 2011 to obstructing commerce by robbery, possessing a firearm in a crime of violence, and impersonating an officer or employee of the United States.
FBI spokeswoman Vanessa Torres said a second suspect, Jeffrey Malcou, 29, was extradited last week from Tennessee and arraigned in Norfolk. White maintains he has no regrets about his actions. He believes the men were intent on killing staff in the store, and shrugs off the hero tag. “I did it all to get us home,” he said. He maintains it was a “fight or die” situation.
The bullet penetrated his leg, shattering the tibia. White said he broke his teeth gritting them because of the intense pain. He still has bullet and bone fragments in his leg. Doctors have told him he may not make a full recovery and may develop arthritis. On Tuesday, his physiotherapist asked him to rate the pain on a scale of zero to 10. “I told them over the past three days it’s been at 50,” White said. White hopes to return to work soon.
He said his employer has been supportive in paying medical bills but he only receives 60 percent of his normal pay. Being a recognizable local face has been difficult for White. He said the publicity and awards have been “hugely overwhelming.” He received a Citizen of the Year award at last week’s crime prevention banquet in Hampton. “The part I had to get used to is people coming up and hugging me,” White said.
“I’m a quiet, laid-back person.” The 48-year-old father of two has faced other problems since the incident. He previously helped coach a baseball team and was a keen cyclist. He finds it hard to be confined to his home for much of the day. “There’s a lack of sleep due to the pain and the constant nightmares of somebody trying to kill you every night,” he said. But he has few regrets about his actions. “I would do it again if I had to.”