CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Bad guys, beware. Woody Williams is not playing around when it comes to his neighborhood fire station. He will be there to protect the men and women who work there.
A photo of Williams in his plaid jacket and pajama pants has gone viral after he went out to his local fire station to keep an eye on the place while firefighters were out on a call.
This comes after firefighters from multiple agencies across the Carolinas have had their personal vehicles hit by burglars while they were out on fire calls.
"Since they had all the bad press about the burglar breaking into the firefighters' cars in other areas, I said 'Well, as an old veteran, I can come over here and keep an eye on this place'," Williams told WBTV Monday. "When I hear them go out, I just say 'Well, I'll come over here and keep an eye on things'."
Williams calls fire station #7, in Charlotte's NoDa area, his watering hole.
"These are all our friends and our buddies and the neighborhood takes care of itself," he said.
The photo has been shared hundreds of times, while accolades coming from across the area. Williams says the idea of firefighters becoming victims makes him sad.
"That's the worst thing. I think that's just about as low as you can go," he said. "Those guys would fight and die, even for the burglars. You know they are going to a burning house for him and here they are victimizing the very guys that would save their life. That's pretty nasty, right there, if you ask me."
Williams says he stands guard and stays alert.
"I just keep an eye on movement, especially in the back. I go back there and keep an eye on their cars and trucks. There's a lot of foot traffic through here," he said. "I'm not sure if they are even calling them out on their phone - fake calls - and then going out and robbing them. They have a lot thrown at them. They are pretty vulnerable themselves."
He says firefighters took the photo of him Sunday when they saw him standing there. He promised he'd watch over while they were out doing their jobs.
Williams says the picture has traveled online "in fun," but warns that you shouldn't test him.
"This is a 12-gauge cane," he joked while making a gun-cocking noise. "I'll do my darnedest to stop him. It's not my job to arrest him or do anything like that, but I'll get a big chunk of his ass. Y'all can beep that, if you want to. But I'm old military and I don't mind taking him to task. If I have to wreck him out, I'll take him out. He won't get far."
"We were trained to fight and die for our country and they don't go away your whole life. So if you got something - duty calls. These guys are our brothers in need," Williams said. "They'll fight and die for us and I'll fight and die for them. And if you think about it, that's a good die. I don't mind dying for a good cause."
But Williams says you don't have to be a gun-toting person or a retired veteran to help out. Just be a good eyewitness.
"That's the worst enemy they can have is a witness. They don't want a witness," he said. "The second enemy is a dog - they hate dogs."
He joked that firefighters leaving the station are the "noisiest people in the world," but says that should be a signal to you that it's time to help your neighborhood station.
And he's got a strong warning for potential burglars.
"You will get caught, it's just a matter of time before we get you. And we're coming for you," Williams said.
Until then, Williams, and his cane, will stand guard at Station #7 as often as he can.
"I'll come and go as I can and while I'm here, close to the fire station, I'll be watching these guys," he said. "I suggest other people watch their fire stations 'cause those are the guys that will come and save your life."