The Viper is a self-styled real-life superhero in Columbia, TN.
COLUMBIA, TN (NBC) -- In a town where they've engraved "justice" and "honor" on the public square, a new word, a new name is the talk of Columbia.
Bike shop owner A.C. Howell said, "The Viper, I believe. Isn't he the Masked Viper?"
Yes, the Viper. He's a man police found patrolling the public square with an arsenal of equipment, including plastic sticks and ninja throwing stars. His goal? Find crime and report it to police. Officers spotted him outside the wheel last week.
The bike shop's owner couldn't help but chuckle.
"I don't know. He needs something to do. Probably needs a job. I hope he's looking out for my benefit. I hope he's guarding my store," said Howell.
For what it's worth, Columbia police didn't want to talk about The Viper today. But a lieutenant once told the paper in town they're doing just fine without any caped crusading.
"I wasn't sure how to take it at first," said Columbia resident Laura Truelove.
As word of the Viper spreads, plenty of people want to know what would possess the 20-year-old to pick up an alter ego.
"I hope it's just coming from an aspect that he's just wanting to do something fun and maybe entertaining to grab some attention," said Truelove.
By phone, the Viper said it's a matter of pride. He told the Columbia Daily Herald, "I am just a guy trying to do what's right in tights."
The Viper is a college student and a fan of comic books. And only he knows when his pursuit of peace will continue.
"I welcome him to Columbia. I hope he does some good," said Howell.