DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit’s “Walking Man” is moving after news of his marathon journey to work each day landed him a new car and upwards of $350,000 in donations.
Turns out, he doesn’t feel safe now, and is even leaving his swanky new ride in police custody when he’s not driving to or from work.
James Robertson became known around the country when the local media covered his story of walking 21 miles from his Detroit home to his job in Rochester Hills. He couldn’t afford a vehicle, but had never missed a day of work at his $10.55 an-hour job.
His story touched heartstrings, an online fundraiser was created in his name, and donations came pouring in. He even received a brand new Ford Taurus, with no strings attached.
Robertson said he’s thankful for the outpouring of support, but he’s not exactly loving the publicity. On Tuesday, Detroit police helped move the 56-year-old to a temporary space as he seeks a home closer to his job in the suburbs.
Robertson said he only plans to stay in his new place for a week or two while he secures more permanent housing. He has also been parking his new car under the watchful eyes at a local police precinct.
Robertson apparently asked police for help because he had started receiving threats in the wake of his windfall. Detroit Police Capt. Aric Tosqui told the Detroit Free Press that Robertson was especially concerned after hearing about the recent stabbing death of a 86-year-old Detroit man who had won the lottery.
Arthur Neal’s body was discovered earlier this month inside a vacant northwest Detroit home, about six weeks after he was reported missing. Reports indicate that Neal disappeared after telling people that he won a $20,000 lottery prize. Twenty-year-old Quanzell Hood is a facing first-degree murder charge in the case. Police believe Hood knew Neal and killed him while trying to get money.
Police have said they’re not sure if Neal actually won a $20,000 lottery prize. No winning ticket has been cashed, lottery officials said.
As for what Robertson plans to do with his newfound money, “I’m going to figure that out when the time comes,” he said, adding that he has yet to receive any of the cash that was raised online.
“I really have been so shocked at this whole thing,” Robertson told WWJ’s Charlie Langton. “Really, if anybody would have told me that this was going to blow up like this, I’d say you were crazy.”