HOUSTON—Screams heard echoing from across Holly Street early Monday morning forced one neighbor out of his bed, armed with his gun.
Rik Melartin said when he heard the commotion, he knew he had to act fast.
A neighbor across the street had just been robbed at gunpoint, and the suspect was running away.
"It was bloody murder. It sounded like somebody was really getting hurt," Tina Jou, Melartin’s wife, said.
"I look around, I see this man running all across the lawn and I hear the screams going, ‘Please stop him, please stop him!’ And I see him approach Rudy’s house and I say, ‘OK, that’s not going to happen. Not on my watch,’" Melartin recalled.
Rudy is Melartin’s 89-year-old neighbor. Melartin said he feared the suspect would try to enter the elderly man’s home to hide.
"So I figured back in my old athletic days I would have just tackled him physically. And I started to cut him off just like a linebacker would, just like Ray Lewis. I figured I could cut him off, by the edge of the house," Melartin said.
He caught up with the suspect as he ran into another neighbor’s yard.
"I said, ‘Stop or I will shoot you!’ And bam! Shot one on the ground, went around corner, ready. Because I didn’t know if the suspect was armed or not. Went around the corner to see he was lurking behind the bushes or if he had tried to enter Rudy’s house to seek for cover," Melartin said.
The suspect, 20-year-old Joseph Anthony Smith, threw up his hands and gave up. He was then arrested by Bellaire police and charged with aggravated robbery.
"In this situation, it turned out we got the bad guy. And without that citizen intervention up front, I don’t know if we would have been able to make that arrest, or they could have gotten away," Bellaire Assistant Police Chief Byron Holloway said.
"I’m no hero, I’m just an everyday, ordinary businessman, who feels I did the right thing at the moment," Melartin said.
But other residents of Holly Street would probably disagree. To them, what Melartin did was extraordinary, and he is, in fact, a hero.