San Diego

Employees, Bystander Tackle Suspect Who Fired Inside 7-Eleven

Two employees and a bystander jumped onto a suspected shoplifter who pulled out a gun at a 7-Eleven, San Diego police told NBC 7 Thursday.

At about 8 p.m., a man, identified by police at 20-year-old Branden Garcia, and a woman entered the store at 3385 Sandrock Drive in Serra Mesa and began hiding merchandise under their clothes, according to SDPD Lt. Jason Weeden.

The owner asked if they were going to pay for the items, but instead of answering, the duo tried to leave. The owner and two employees immediately tried to stop them.

According to police, the woman ran away, but Garcia turned around and punched the owner in the face.

The two employees then got into a scuffle with Garcia, who soon pulled out a gun, Weeden said. A bystander, Alfred Tudela, leaped into action. At one point, the suspect fired his weapon, but no one was hit by the bullet.

"Trying to get the gun away from him, and he bit my fingers," said Tudela, who showed NBC 7 his injured hand. "We were struggling to get the gun, both struggling to get the gun, and eventually I got the gun away from him."

He said he put the weapon in his back pocket while another man put the suspect in a choke-hold.

Tudela then joined the fray again and tackled the man to the ground.

The customer and employees were able to hold the suspect until police arrived to arrest him.

“I think Alfred is definitely a hero,” said employee Cesar Santos. “He potentially saved some lives here today. I don’t know how we will be able to repay him but we are really thankful for his actions.”

No one was injured. The woman involved was detained and questioned by police, but she was not arrested.

Weeden said the suspects took a number of various items.

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