“He yelled at me,” Guthrie police looking for two aggressive panhandlers

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GUTHRIE, Okla. - Police are on the lookout for a couple of panhandlers accused of menacing people around the area.

Guthrie Police Sgt. Anthony Gibbs said the department has been hearing reports of the two for over a month.

They target people at churches, parking lots, even inside stores.

On Sunday, the couple approached Josh Tucker and his wife. The man told Tucker he's a veteran who was coming from the VA in Oklahoma City, heading home for South Carolina, and needed money for gas.

"So I said, 'well why don't you drive over to the gas station with us and I'll just fill up your gas tank?'" Tucker said. "And he said, 'well, I have a full tank of gas right now."

Tucker said he requested a gas card.

"So he followed me over to the Loves station, and at the time I tried to purchase a Loves gift card for him," Tucker said.

Because Tucker didn't have cash, he couldn't purchase a card, at which point the couple pressed him for a Walmart gift card instead.

Meanwhile, Tucker's wife was in the car, learning that her pastor had had a very similar experience with a couple matching the description of the two.

"A gentleman who had broke down, was trying to get to Fort Smith, AR, had gone to the VA," Tucker said. "The stories aligned perfectly with what was going on here."

He decided he didn't feel comfortable just giving the two money, but when he told them, their previously kind demeanor changed.

"He yelled at me across the parking lot, we were at Loves," Tucker said. Tucker and his wife described the two cussing at them and calling them racist. "I explained, 'I tried to help you' and he blurted an absurdity and I drove off."

The Tuckers went to police and took to Facebook to warn others. Several people responded with similar stories involving the same pair.

Louis Errigo was one of them, approached by the man alone in Walmart.

"A large gentleman approached me in a veteran hat and asked me if I'm a veteran," Errigo said. He told the man he was. "He goes, 'well I need some money, can you give me some money?'"

Errigo told him he doesn't carry a card, only cash.

"He goes, 'really?' And then he just stood there and stared at me, had a little attitude, then he turned and walked off. Looked pretty agitated, pretty mad," Errigo said.

Sgt. Gibbs said officers want to find the couple to have a conversation with them.

"What we don't want is for this to continue and then for whatever reason because this person may not have all their mental faculties there, and they end up hurting someone," Sgt. Gibbs said.

He said pulling out your wallet or purse in front of a solicitor can be dangerous. It would be best to direct them to the police department, who would send them to a ministry or group prepared to help.