Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Virginia: Mother fends off robbers with handgun

Woodbridge, Virginia

From the Manassas Journal Messenger of September 29, 2008
Mother fends off robbers with handgun

Three would-be robbers, one armed with a pair of scissors, walked into a Woodbridge store on Saturday morning with criminal intent.

They left empty-handed and apparently more than a little frightened.

About 11:30 a.m. the three walked into Tienda Hispana Esperanza. One rushed to the counter and pointed the scissors at the owner's neck and another grabbed her son’s arm, the family that owns the store said Monday.

But the owner, Esperanza Salazar, 36, reacted immediately.

She leaned back and reached for her handgun and pointed it at the three unknown males, the Salazar family said.

"It kind of looked like 'The Matrix,' " said 14-year-old Julio Salazar, who was

working at the store with his mother that day.

One of the would-be robbers immediately ran out of the store, located on PR Business Center Drive. A second robber, who wielded the scissors, tried to run out of the store but tripped on a clothes rack and fell. He finally crawled out the front door.

The third robber paused and sat down in a folding chair, putting his hands in the air. When Esperanza Salazar told her son to call 911, the third man ran for the door and momentarily got tangled in the clothes rack before running out of the store.

All three eventually ran toward the back of the business center off Smoketown Road, according to police.

Esperanza Salazar, with her son translating for her, said that while she was nervous, she wouldn't have let anything happen to her son.

The investigation revealed that the three had been loitering outside the store before the robbery attempt, but it was unknown for how long, said police spokeswoman Officer Erika Hernandez.

"Based on the witnesses statements, it appeared they were staking out the business," Hernandez said.

Officers, including a K-9 unit, searched the area and surrounding businesses for roughly 2 1/2 hours but found no one, Hernandez said.

Police said the first would-be robber was described as a Latino man, 30 to 35 years old, collar-length straight hair, with a medium build and a mustache. He was wearing a green sweater with a white T-shirt underneath, a black baseball cap, black sneakers and glasses.

The second robber, who was armed with the pair of scissors, was described as a Latino man, 20 to 21 years old, with a medium build and shoulder-length curly hair, police said. He was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a black cap with letters on the back.

The third robber was described as a Latino male, between 17 and 18 years old, collar-length straight hair, with a medium build and unshaven chin. He was wearing a light brown shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Prince William County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS. Callers don't have to give their names, just the information, and could earn up to a $1,000 cash re-ward.

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