Just after 7 p.m. Friday, two young men allegedly began circling a van parked behind the 5200 block of 4th street NE.
The vehicle’s owner noticed and started taping them from his window. All of a sudden one of them took out a screwdriver and began using it to pick the lock on the door. One of the teens then handed the other a big rock, which police say they could have used to smash the van's ignition lock.
But before they had a chance, the victim ran out of his apartment and called neighbors for help. Together, the five of them trapped the teen in the car while his alleged accomplice ran off.
The largest man made sure the teen couldn't escape, while another neighbor, a former cop, got some handcuffs and subdued him until police arrived.
“It was what was needed for the moment,” says the victim, who chose not to be identified. “Everybody kept a really cool head.”
As the events unfolded, the victim tried to give the young man some guidance.
“The main thing I was talking to him about was, you have to make better decisions,” the victim says. “You can’t do stupid things that in the long run, thirty seconds will change your life forever.”
He says he felt sorry that the teen's life had come to this but thanked his neighbors for their kindness. He was appreciative to see everyone support one another and do it in a non-violent, constructive way.
And said while he wouldn't always take matters into his own hands, he said one cannot always stand by either.
“I'm not about vigilantism or anything of that nature but I do believe people have to take a stand and not allow the inequities of this world to consume us,” he says.