"Here I am driving the car and he has the gun pointed right at me, and I wasn't sure whether it was loaded or-- I'm sure it was loaded," Michael Rutkowski said.
Rutkowski, 93, says he was just going to buy some groceries at Tops on Main Street in Rutland Thursday morning when his day took a drastic turn. After buying his groceries, Rutkowski says he exited the store and walked into the parking lot, where he says a man approached him and asked him for a ride.
"He wanted to know if I would take him to the clinic because the individual that was going to take him there was 20 minutes late and hadn't showed up," Rutkowski explained.
Rutkowski says he never expected what happened next. "He pulls out a gun and he says, don't do anything foolish all I want is your car."
When we caught up with Rutkowski at the police station, he told us that he just tried to stay calm.
"Well, I'll tell ya', I just didn't know what I was going to do. So, the best thing is probably do nothing," Rutkowski said.
He eventually drove into the Vermont Sports and Fitness health club on Curtis Ave., where Rutkowski says he got out and the suspect got into the driver's seat and drove away with his car.
"As much as it's nice to help out somebody in need, you do not know who you are picking up," Rutland Police Sgt. John Sly said. "If you don't know them, you don't know what they're about or what their intentions are."
Something Rutkowski learned the hard way. He says after this, he is going back to being a little bit more careful.
"For 70 years I told myself that I would not pick up any hitchhikers, and this is the first time I changed my mind," he said.
A former U.S. marshal saw Rutkowski pacing in the parking lot and called police. Police initially thought they had a suspect near the Table 24 restaurant and held him at gunpoint, but soon found out that wasn't the guy they were looking for.
Police are looking for a white man, about 200 pounds, with reddish facial hair. He was last seen driving Rutkowski's tan, 2004 Toyota Camry with Vermont plates BAK 207.
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