A clerk made a risky attempt to stop two accused shoplifters from robbing his Mid-City San Diego store, and it was all caught on security cameras.
NBC 7 obtained footage showing the moments suspects Irene Lee and Ariel Burrus walked into the Savers 99 Cents Store on University Avenue on Dec. 13 and got into a physical confrontation with the store clerk.
The clerk had had it with the two suspects, whom he said had robbed his store before. He took a position at the front of the store when he thought they were back at it again.
"Things could go awry real quick and the clerk could get hurt," San Diego Police Department Robbery Detective Dewayne Glazewski said.
The situation did escalate quickly after the clerk confronted the women. Glazewski said the clerk demanded to see what they took. Push came to shove, and then Burrus pulled a gun — a fully-loaded 22-caliber revolver and put it squarely to the back of his head.
"The gun was cocked and ready to fire easily, I mean hair trigger," Glazewski explained.
The clerk appeared enraged, reaching for the weapon as the suspect started to return it to her waistband. The two grappled on the floor for a few seconds before he wrenched the gun away from her.
Turns out the clerk's decision to disarm Burrus wasn't exactly based on a complete understanding of the risk.
"He thought it was a fake gun so he went after the woman and took the gun away," Glazewski said.
The weapon didn't fire, but Burrus' head was bloodied from the scuffle on the floor.
Lee had left. Burrus stuck around long enough to drink water. Police said she threatened to come back and kill the clerk if he didn't return her weapon. Eventually, at a leisurely pace, she walked away before police came.
The suspects remain at large. Police said the two women are homeless and if you spot them use caution and call 911.
San Diego County Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of Burrus and Lee. Anyone with information should call the SDPD's Robbery Unit at (619) 531-2299 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.