Detroit man who walked 21 miles to work told police he feared for safety after threats, reports say

While the story of James Robertson — the Detroit man who walked 21 miles to work every day — inspired strangers to raise $ 350,000 in donations and give the 56-year-old factory worker a new car, Robertson himself has become uneasy with his newfound wealth and quickly threw his belongings into garbage bags and moved to a location he feels is safer than his old neighborhood, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Robertson jumped at the chance to move after city police offered him temporary living quarters, the newspaper reported. He also is storing the 2015 Ford Taurus that was given to him with no strings attached in a police lot.

“We had a meeting with him (and) he expressed interest that he did not feel safe,” Detroit police Capt. Aric Tosqui told the Free Press.

“People were actually asking him for money,” 2nd Deputy Chief June West added.

Robertson, who according to the paper was living in a boardinghouse in Detroit for $ 220 a week while earning $ 10.55 an hour, was offered the rent-free use of an apartment after he told his friend, Blake Pollock, that some of the other residents wanted a share of his money, even threatening him with violence.

Pollock met Robertson last year when he offered him a ride last year after seeing him walk down the street numerous times in bad weather, and the banker and Robertson became friends.

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“The biggest thing for me is that nobody had to talk him into moving,” Pollock told the paper. “He just said, ‘Let’s do it,'” Pollock said.

While $ 350,001 was raised for Robertson on a GoFundMe.com page as of Friday by 19-year-old Evan Leedy, Robertson doesn’t yet have the money and will meet with a financial adviser next week, according to the Free Press. But the recent arrest in the murder of an 86-year-old Detroit man who Robertson said had won $ 20,000 in the lottery scared him to action.

“He knew about that story, and I also know about an incident in the 1st Precinct where a gentleman was killed after he allegedly won some money,” Tosqui told the paper. “In those two examples, no one approached the department. But if somebody won the lottery tomorrow and contacted us, we would look at the situation in the same way and see what we could do,” he said.

According to CBS Detroit, Robertson plans to stay at his temporary quarters for a week or two, then look for a place closer to work — and where he feels safe.

Despite his sudden change of lifestyle, Robertson is very grateful and amazed by the outpouring of support.

“I really have been so shocked at this whole thing,” Robertson told Detroit’s WWJ. “Really, if anybody would have told me that this was going to blow up like this, I’d say you were crazy.”


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