Game-room patron wounds would-be robber
By MIKE GLENN Copyright 2009 HOUSTON CHRONICLE
June 3, 2009, 10:55AM
A 77-year-old man was within his rights when he shot a robber during a holdup of a game room in unincorporated Galveston County, Texas City police officials said Tuesday.
He is truly a victim whose back was against the wall, said Texas City police Capt. Brian Goetschius, referring to Robert Hays.
Hays was among about a dozen patrons inside Players Paradise about 12:45 a.m. Monday when a pair of armed men stormed the club at 4801 State Highway 146, officials said.
Hays said he was "peacefully minding my own business'' when the armed robbers forced their way inside.
"The next thing I knew, I was essentially flying through the air backwards and slammed down on the floor,'' said Hays, a Korean War veteran.
Hays, now lying on the floor, handed the robber his wallet. "He looked through it and threw it back down on me," he said.
He watched as the robbers worked their way through the game room, taking the wallets and purses from their other victims.
A snub-nose .38 caliber revolver in his hands, Hays was ready in case the robbers came at him.
"There were only two ways he could get at me,'' Hays said. "I positioned myself on the floor where I could see him if he came either way.''
Hays pulled the revolver from under his shirt and fired a single shot, striking one of the masked robbers, Goetschius said.
"It's not an easy thing to pull a trigger on a human being,'' Hays said. "But, when that man stood over me and said, 'Give me all your money,' my blood just boiled."
The robber fell to the ground and dropped his gun, Goetschius said. One of his shoes came off and he ran out the back door with the other suspect.
Hays said he shot the man to protect himself and the other patrons at the game room, especially Sharon, his wife of 39 years.
"When that first man dropped his pistol and went down, she got up and grabbed (it) and was ready to back me up,'' Hays said.
About 30 minutes later, a man walked into the emergency room at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center.
He initially stated he had been stabbed. Then, it was corrected to Ive been shot, Goetschius said.
The man remains under guard at the hospital in unknown condition with a single gunshot wound. He has not yet been charged in the robbery, but was wanted for failing to pay child support, police said Tuesday.
Goetschius also said the 34-year-old man is a convicted robber. He was sentenced to five years in prison in 1995 after being found guilty of aggravated robbery.
Hays was not injured during the holdup.
Hays said he learned how to fire a pistol in the Air Force during the Korea War and later as a reserve Galveston County sheriff's deputy. He has also received mandatory firearms training for his concealed handgun license.
He will be listed as the victim when the case is presented Wednesday to a Galveston County grand jury, police said.
We believe he acted in accordance with the law, defending himself and others, Goetschius said.
Police are continuing to search for two other robbers including one who had apparently been inside the club earlier that evening and the night before.