Harrison County

She stopped for a soda and saw a wanted man. She left with a high-five.

Robin Brolaski had an adrenaline rush when she saw a man officials were seeking at a Burger King in Biloxi and gave a tip that led to his arrest.

Clifford Keetion Jr., 44, was wanted on sex-crime charges involving an 11-year-old Harrison County girl.

Brolaski didn’t remember his name but recognized Keetion when she stopped at the fast-food restaurant at Pass and Popp’s Ferry roads after work Monday.

She is an assistant manager at a Biloxi apartment complex. She said federal marshals had stopped by her office a couple of hours earlier to show pictures of Keetion. They were looking for anyone who had seen him. He was sought on a fugitive warrant.

Brolaski said she had seen the man in the area.

Brolaski said all she could think about was to react quickly to help get him off the street.

She called 911. Six federal marshals showed up.

“They swarmed in,” she said.

“Within minutes, they had him on the ground with their knee in his back in no time flat. It was just awesome to see them doing their job. And off one tip, one person who you wouldn’t think could make a difference, that fast, this man they were looking for was taken off the street.

“It’s probably the best experience I’ve had in quite a long time.”

Harrison County sheriff’s investigators had obtained arrest warrants for Keetion on March 8. He was wanted on two counts of sexual battery and one count each of unlawful touching of a child and attempted sexual battery.

“He disappeared,” sheriff’s Lt. Coley Judy said. “We couldn’t find him.”

Investigators asked for help from the U.S. Marshals Service Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force. The sheriff’s department has an investigator assigned to the task force.

“The task force helps us out a lot when we can’t find someone,” Judy said.

Girl talked to school nurse

The child was sexually assaulted Jan. 23 at a home on the east side of the county, said Judy, the sheriff’s lead detective.

“The child told a school nurse she was hurting,” he said. “The grandmother took her to a hospital and that’s where the child disclosed all details of what went on. A forensic interview on Feb. 14 further documented it.”

After Keetion was arrested, he said he is homeless and was living with the girl’s family, Judy said.

Keetion was booked at the Harrison County jail and held on a $400,000 bond set by Justice Court Judge Diane Ladner.

How it went down

Brolaski said it was a fluke, or faith, that brought Keetion to her attention.

She lives in Gulfport. After getting off work, she turned right instead of left, deciding to go into Burger King to get a drink and then go shopping.

She said she was driving out of the parking lot when “he crossed my path.” She said she recognized him by a drooping eyelid that appears to be almost shut.

She went back to the restaurant and asked a young worker who was sweeping trash if the man had gone inside. The worker said he had.

Brolaski went in as if she were going to place an order, but pulled the manager aside. She explained the situation. Keetion was nowhere to be seen, but presumably was in the restroom.

Brolaski went back to her car and had it in reverse when the manager came running out.

“She came flying out the door and said, ‘Oh, my goodness, he’s at the register right now placing an order. Call the authorities!’”

Brolaski called 911. A dispatcher stayed on the phone with her as she parked in the old Wal-Mart parking lot. She said she wanted “a bird’s-eye view” of both of Burger King’s doors so she could tell police which way the man went if they didn’t make it there before Keetion left.

Federal marshals showed up, and as they went in one door, the man ran out the other, Brolaski said. But marshals nabbed him.

‘They high-fived me’

Brolaski watched as they took him into custody. She drove up closer and parked by a marshal’s truck.

Two of them walked in her direction.

“I said, ‘Good detective work, right?’

“They said, ‘That was you on the phone?’

“They high-fived me and thumbed up,” Brolaski said.

She said she didn’t have time to be frightened, but it took her a while to calm down from the adrenaline rush.

“It was an exhilarating feeling to know someone, little old me, can change something like that and make a difference.”

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews