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Whitefish man helps authorities end Amber Alert

By Rebecca Vogt, KCFW Reporter, rvogt@kcfw.com
Published On: Nov 16 2012 08:29:47 PM MST
WHITEFISH, Mont. -

Thursday started out like a typical day for Phillip Bruinsma, ending his night with bowling league at the Pin and Cue in Whitefish but as he was leaving, he met Robert Barnett.

"As I was out in the parking lot I was approached by a man," said Bruinsma, "and he just asked for some gas money. Said he was stranded and needed to get back to Canada."

Like a Good Samaritan, Bruinsma gave him the money he had, and struck up a conversation, inviting Barnett to sleep in his car outside his home on Mill Avenue.

"He just seemed like a guy that was in some hard luck," Bruinsma explained. "If someone needs something I will give them the shirt off my back. I'm always out to help someone, you know?"

Bruinsma eventually drove home, checked his Facebook, and saw something about an Amber Alert but it wouldn't pop up.

"I kept hitting the link and it went nowhere," said Bruinsma. "It kept saying 'bad gateway' or just was loading and I really didn't have any information on that so I just went to bed."

Friday morning, Bruinsma was up early. He checked his computer again and pulled up the alert. As he linked Barnett to the alert, he walked outside and saw his car in front of his home and called authorities.

"That shows two sides of this gentleman," said Undersheriff Dave Leib, "that he was willing to help in the first place and yet, when he recognized a wrong that was being done he was willing to report that."

"But I don't see myself as a hero," Bruinsma said humbly. "I was just glad that I was able to do something to help that and that the way this situation happened I can put two and two together and help."

Three-year-old Alvin Barnett is currently back in the care of British Columbia's Ministry of Children and Family Development.