De Soto Police Chief Gets Social Media’s Attention After Helping Stranger in Need

WAUKEE, Iowa  --  "I look at it as part of the job, and I'd like to think any other law enforcement officer would have done the same thing in the same situation," said De Soto Police Chief Dustin Runge.

“Last night, around 6:50 p.m., Dallas County Dispatch called me to a man walking on the interstate. A passing motorist was concerned about his welfare," said Chief Runge. “I was the closest car, so I got dispatched. I found him at the 109 mile marker. His name was Mark. He stated that he walked on foot from Knoxville, Iowa, and that he was just looking for a new place to start a new life."

It's what happened next that is generating a lot of attention online.

"He said he was trying to find a Western Union place to get some money that his relatives had forwarded him and De Soto didn't have any Western Union facilities, so I googled on my computer and Waukee Hy-Vee was the closest place," said Chief Runge. "And then I found out he was only getting $30, and that's all he had with him, so I offered to take him to the Hy-Vee Grille."

A Facebook post that captured the good deed is getting lots of attention.

"It's exploded on social media. A Hy-Vee worker had approached us when we were eating dinner and kinda asked what was going on and asked to take our picture, but I wasn't expecting it to explode like it did," said Runge.

Joshua Watson, a cashier at the Hy-Vee on East Hickman Road in Waukee, calls what he witnessed there last night an inspiring event.

"I said, 'is everything okay?' And he (Chief Runge) explained to me he was just buying this guy dinner and was going to give him a ride to the shelter, and I was pretty struck by that," said Watson.

So struck was he that Watson felt compelled to take a photo and share the police chief's good deed on Facebook.

"I was really inspired by that because it's so uncommon to see that kind of kindness in this world these days, especially given the disparity between the public and law enforcement. I felt it was important to document something good for a change," said Watson.

Even though Chief Runge went above and beyond the call of duty, spent his own money to buy a stranger a meal, and then took him to a shelter, he doesn't think he did anything special, saying, "That's somebody's son or brother...and somebody cares about him, so if I had a family member out on the interstate, I would want the same thing in return."