Only on 13: Repairman on roof armed with just a tool bag and knife to fend off robbers

Jessica Willey Image
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Would-be robbers climb up to roof and fail to hold up repairman
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A repairman talks to only ABC13 weeks after he says he stood up to three men, including one with a gun, who tried to rob him on Houston's northside.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A would-be robbery victim, who came within two feet of a barrel of a gun, stood up to three men who wanted to steal his truck.

Houston police released surveillance video of the attack in hopes of identifying the robbers. It happened on Feb. 7 at about 2 a.m. on the city's northside.

Donald Burns, a heating and A/C repairman, was on top of the roof of a convenience store in the 500 block of Berry Road when the men approached.

"I heard them holler, 'Throw down the keys. Throw down the keys,'" Burns recalled. "Before I knew it, one was already on the back of the truck. Got two steps up the ladder and I grabbed my tool bag, and I said, 'I'm going to smash your brains out and I'm going to cut you up with this knife. You better go.'"

The men retreated, as video shows, but then they went back. Burns still had his knife out, but by that time, he was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.

"I said, 'Oh yeah, I'm glad you came back. I couldn't remember what you were wearing. She wants to know,'" Burns said with a smile as he recalled relaying the suspects' descriptions to the dispatcher.

That's when the robbers left for good. Burns, who often works overnight doing repairs at businesses and has been robbed before at gunpoint, said he could not afford to let them have his truck. It's an integral part of his business.

He now plays downs the fact that he was able to scare off three men, one of whom had a gun.

"I didn't have a choice. They brought it to me and I had to do what I had to do. I could have gotten shot. I'm no hero or anything, but I wasn't just walking home," he said.

Anyone with information about the suspects is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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