ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Chevron manager Joe Salem says he sees people try to shoplift a few times a week.
“We just approach them; we try to end it nicely: ‘Please give me the stuff. Leave the store; don’t come back,'” he said.
What happened Tuesday afternoon was different. When Salem asked the suspect to leave, he flashed a gun in his waistband and Salem realized the thief had two accomplices right behind him.
“When I came to this I didn’t know he had first, a gun, and second, it was going to turn like this,” he said. “I just jumped on him. I thought, I have to save my life. I have kids and I cannot let this guy kill me this day.”
The gunman is in custody thanks to the actions of customers that stepped in. The two accomplices got away, but barely.
“We wrestled from here all the way to the ice cream cooler before these guys and the customers came in to help me and we took him to the floor,” he said.
Meanwhile, Travis Briscoe, who has been ranked as one of the world’s top bullriders, happened to be in the parking lot. He heard the commotion inside and saw two people run out. That’s when he ran after them.
“I ran across to stop them but at that point, they got across the street,” he said. “We went to chase them across the street and he turned around. At that point, I thought he was armed and I have a little girl to go home to.”
Salem says Briscoe then went into the store to help the other customers get the gun away from the suspect.
“I know there’s a lot of bad people, but at the same time there’s a lot of good people. Albuquerque is a great place. There’s a lot of good people,” he said.
Police say they’re glad the suspect is in custody, but they don’t necessarily recommend people try to take down armed suspects.
“He did what he felt was right, but we’d tell the public: be very careful,” said Officer Charles Chavez. “But in other ways we’re very grateful they were able to stop this guy. This guy had a loaded gun.”
According to police, the 18-year-old suspect didn’t have an adult criminal record before today’s incident. Albuquerque Police Department says he was booked into MDC on felony aggravated assault charges.