Deli owner tackles man who robbed him
Rex Carroll held the suspect until police arrived
Updated: Wednesday, 03 Mar 2010, 6:19 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 03 Mar 2010, 5:27 PM EST
AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) - Six weeks ago, Rex Carroll opened Auburn Deli in the back of his Zesto Ice Cream location in Auburn.
"It's been fantastic. We see new faces every day and it's getting busier and busier," Carroll said.
The deli section is decorated with old photos of Auburn's car industry, and even the sandwiches are named after cars. But, Tuesday afternoon, a customer turned into a robber.
Brian Reynolds, 45, came in around 3 p.m. and ordered a veggie sandwich. After ordering, Reynolds went to the drink machine and took his menu with him. He then returned to the register.
"I thought he was pulling out his wallet, but he pulled out something wrapped in a blue bandana. It looked like a gun," Carroll said. "He said, 'Get down on your knees and open the register.'"
Carroll didn't realize at first that he was being robbed.
"He said, 'Get down or I'll shoot you,'" Carroll said. "He's like, 'I'm going to kill you if you don't open the drawer.'"
Carroll did open the register and Reynolds took all the cash out. He also took the money out of Carroll's wallet. A girl who works at the deli was also in the restaurant.
"He told us to get under the prep table and stay down. I peeked over the edge and he came running back and he said, 'Stay down or I'll kill you!' I looked again at the bandana and thought, 'That's not a gun. It could be a knife, but not a gun,'" Carroll said.
That's when Carroll made the decision to go after the robber. Reynolds ran out the deli door and ran toward the front of the building.
"I just powerslammed him into the concrete. He was wrestling with me and I got behind him and he was trying to take swings at me. He got up, but I threw him down again
," Carroll recounted.
That's when Carroll called for help, yelling he had just been robbed. A few people who were driving by stopped to help and a few more from the gas station next door also came over.
"It was very nice to have that help," Carroll said.
Police were dispatched to the robbery and were told the deli owner had chased the robber outside.
"When the first officer arrived he said there was a person down in front of the business. Of course, our first assumption was that the suspect shot the store owner," Lt. Mark Stump, a detective with the Auburn Police Department, said. "But getting closer, the officer realized the person down was the suspect and the owner was on top of him, along with four or five other people."
Reynolds didn't resist arrest. Police took him to the hospital because he was complaining of chest pain and was having trouble breathing.
"It was determined he was probably having trouble because several people were on top of him," Stump said.
Reynolds also had minor cuts and scratches. He went to jail and now faces a class C felony robbery charge.
"He just got out 14 months ago for a similar crime, so he's going away," Stump said.
Carroll said despite being the victim, he feels sorry for Reynolds.
"I feel bad he was in a situation that drastic that he'd walk into a place like this and try to rob it," he said. "I feel bad that he was that desperate. It's tough times for everybody and I feel bad for him that he had to resort to something this heinous."
Carroll said Reynolds told him he has a three-month-old baby and no job.
"There are a lot of people going through hard times, but there are better ways to go about this. There are all kinds of assistance out there. Someone will help you," Stump said.
It turned out Reynolds didn't have a gun. Instead he used a brush wrapped in a bandana to pose as a weapon.
"It was scary, but I felt I had the situation under control," Carroll said. "If he had shown me a real gun I wouldn't have done anything."
Stump said while he's glad no one was seriously hurt in this robbery, he prefers citizens leave catching criminals to the police.
"We don't like to see people chase out a bad guy over money. Nothing's worth getting injured over. We prefer they be a good witness and get as much good information as they can and pass that along to us," Stump said.
Carroll said Reynolds took about $475. The deli got it all back.