Liquor store owner pummels armed robber with fire extinguisher

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) - Montgomery County Police say a Rockville man picked the wrong business to rob, and the 20-year-old alleged gunman is now sitting in a jail cell.

Around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Michael Kemp, 20, reportedly walked into TG Silver Spring Mart along the 8200 block of Fenton Street. Dressed from head-to-toe in black clothing, including a face mask, Kemp began to pace up and down a store aisle. There, surveillance cameras recorded him yanking a long barrel revolver from a plastic shopping bag.

“He said, 'bring money, bring money,'" liquor store owner Tigist Atreso recalled.

Atreso, an Ethiopian immigrant, was in the rear stock room with her 19-month-old son when she says Kemp greeted her with a handgun. Kemp then guided the mother-of-three to the front register, where he ordered her to fill a plastic bag with cash.

“And he said, ‘bring more money, bring more money," Atreso added.

Although Atreso emptied the cash drawer, Kemp sensed there was more money in the store. In what Atreso believes was a last ditch effort, the 20-year-old criminal returned to the stock room where the toddler was wailing in a stroller.

“He said, ‘I kill your son,' Atreso added. "He come to my store, inside my store, and he tried to kill him."

Like a mama bear, Atreso grabbed a bright red fire extinguisher from behind the front counter and ran after Kemp, clocking him in the head. Her son, scurried away from the scuffle just in time.

“I kept him like this," Atreso said as she clasped her arms together, demonstrating her impromptu takedown tactic.

Shortly thereafter, a male customer ran to Atreso's aid, tackling Kemp to the ground, and prying a knife from his hand. Additional customers also helped restrain the would-be-robber until police arrived.

“He need money, I give him money. He has to go back outside, right? But he come inside to kill my son. No, that’s not fair. This is a bad person," Atreso concluded.

Atreso suffered a minor bite to her left pointer finger during the tussle. Paramedics however, had to cart off Kemp to Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring for more serious medical assistance.

Kemp, who remains in custody, is currently facing seven felony counts of armed robbery and assault. If found guilty, a judge could sentence him to 130 years in state prison.