Detroit's 'walking man' becomes internet sensation, potential target

He'd rather walk than mooch off someone else. How far would he walk? 20 miles roundtrip and he did it for 10 years. That was until the Detroit Free Press got a hold of his story. $350,000 later, James Robertson's life was changed.

Dubbed Detroit's 'walking man', Robertson spent the last decade or so walking to and from work. The 56-year-old said his 1988 Honda Accord quit on him about ten years ago but it didn't stop him from getting to his job at SME Schain Mold, a manufacturer of plastic parts. He had a perfect attendance record at the plant.

The way to work involves catching the bus a few times and then walking a few miles the rest of the way. The return trip home? A lot more walking since the buses don't run at that time.

After his story was picked up across the globe, money poured in to a GoFundMe account. The donations are closed with 13,248 people pitching in to a grand total of $350,001. It turned this working-class hero into a target.

A Ford dealership gave him a new car: Red, his favorite color. Robertson had hit the lottery and the whole world knew it. Robertson was electronified. Now, he's cruising the Motor City in his bright red car. The only thing missing is the big white bulls-eye.

"God knows I don't belong there. I'm different from the rest of them. I don't do drugs. I don't do crime," Robertson says.

The very day his story was pinging across the world, an old man was found stabbed to death in the basement of an abandoned house in Detroit. That old man was rumored to have hit the lottery.

People started hitting up Robertson. From the money to taking the new car for a spin, they wanted a piece of his new found fortune. Then Robertson accidentally clipped the neighbor's house with the new red car and the neighbor wants to get paid. 

Robertson started to worry. His friend called the cops. Then his friend called Charlie LeDuff. And Charlie called Detroit Police Captain Ariq Tosqui. Captain Tosqui said they were sending a car by the neighborhood as often as possible check on the car in the driveway. Why?

"I think it's the right thing to do. With the attention given to the situation I want to make sure he gets as much attention from as he he did the community around him," Tosqui said.

It didn't end there. The captain called a landlord. The landlord had a place ready for Robertson. On Tuesday, Robertson, and some of his belongings, was relocated from the room he rented for $900 a month to a new, undisclosed location. Robertson's staying at his new home in Detroit until he figures out what to do with his money.

So what about his new found fame and fortune? Has it changed him? He was invited to Detroit's state of the City speech Tuesday night but said no for the same reason he walked 20 miles every day: he didn't want to miss work.

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