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Prayer and action

National | Truck driver who phoned 911 and blocked sniper suspects' escape route had led a prayer vigil for an end to the manhunt

Issue: "A warmer Chile," Nov. 9, 2002

Dominant-media-culture journalism has explored the role of prayer in health care--but the role of prayer in capturing criminals? Scripps Howard columnist Terry Mattingly reports on Ron Lantz, the praying trucker who called 911 after spotting the suspected snipers' car parked at the Myersville rest area near Frederick, Md. He and another truck driver blocked the entrance and exit of the rest area to prevent escape; police arrested John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo without incident.

But there was more--much more--to the story. "What few journalists noted was that the folksy trucker was telling them that his story had a beginning, as well as an ending," Mr. Mattingly notes. "Finding that deadly sniper-mobile followed some serious prayer."

Mr. Mattingly reports that one week before the capture, Mr. Lantz and fellow truckers were discussing the sniper case over their CBs. "Finally, Lantz and several others told everybody to pull off the road. It was time for a prayer meeting. According to Lantz, at least 50 truckers and a slew of other drivers got together--a mere 20 miles from that Myersville rest area."

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Mr. Lantz said he didn't care about his possible share of the $500,000 in reward money, saying he'd donate it to the families of victims. He also wasn't much concerned about blocking the escape route of mass-murder suspects: "My wife asked me what I would've done if they had shot me. I replied, 'I don't know, but I'm going to heaven, anyway.'"

For now, Mr. Lantz settled for the key to the city of Wilmington, Del., the city he departed before discovering the suspects' car. (His truck route takes him to Wilmington twice a week.) The mayor and local congressman praised his efforts and bravery. He was given a suite in the Hotel DuPont and breakfast in the Green Room, but didn't let the attention go to his head. Mr. Lantz wore his jeans, workboots, a flannel shirt, and a NASCAR hat as he commented on the swank accommodations: "That is a great motel!"

Timothy Lamer
Timothy Lamer

Tim is managing editor of WORLD magazine.

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