Camera captures employee fight with robber at west Houston cell phone store

February 6, 2013 3:58:02 AM PST
Over the last few months, we have brought you stories of several violent robberies at cell phone stores across our area. Now, we have exclusive video of what employees in one store decided to do when they came face-to-face with a robber.

It was just like any other afternoon at the Cricket store on Westheimer near Dairy Ashford. The front doors were open, and employees were helping customers who came in.

"I was walking and talking on the phone. I didn't think anything was going to happen," assistant store manager Joe Gonzalez said.

But on January 23, it did. A customer arrived in a hoodie and demanded money.

"He was just saying, 'I have the gun,'" store manager Bilal Khan said.

But as they handed the thief cash, they backed him against the wall.

"We just grab him from his neck and we were just fighting each other," Khan said.

That's when Gonzalez came in.

"I hear a big commotion," he said.

He checked the safe room and grabbed a chair.

"I was going so fast when I hit, I kept going into the wall," Gonzalez said.

The tangle continued, and the counter came crashing down. A hoodie no longer hid the suspect's face.

You see, this wasn't the first time this store was robbed in the last couple of months. In fact, the front windows are still nicked with bullet holes. Employees remembered December 7. Then, the thief had a very visible gun.

Houston police say there have been a number of cases of cell phone store robberies getting attention in the media in recent weeks. With many stores well equipped with cameras, the crimes are often captured on surveillance video.

But police say they need your help because they don't always end with the theatrics of this one. The thief's escape attempt was futile.

"I thought, let me close the door so he can't get out," Gonzalez said.

While the store was a mess and an employee's hand got cut, they held onto him until police got their hands on him.

"When I go to think back, I wouldn't want to be put in that situation again," Gonzalez said.

Police say they have a suspect in his 20's in custody in connection with that case. They are looking into whether he has ties to any other cell phone store robberies.

Employees received $100 from their boss for their bravery.

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