Armed robber tackled during grocery heist

SPOKANE, Wash. - A suspect trying to hold up the G & B Grocery at Francis and Crestline got a rude awakening Monday night when he was tackled by an eyewitness and held for police to come collect.

The family who owns the grocery store is from India and Monday night, when someone tried to rob their store, they dodged a bullet -- literally -- to protect their customers and to keep a crook from getting away.

"Last night, around seven o'clock, I was taking care of a customer so he could have beer and one gentleman came (inside) with a hood and a gun and asking for money," G & B Grocery owner Cal Singh said.

Robber chased down

The suspect, later identified as James Hopkins, 25, pointed his gun at all six people inside the store at the time of the attempted robbery, including a pair of teenagers.

Just about the time Hopkins is ready to take the money and run, Bittu Singh runs down Hopkins, even after the suspect fired a shot into the floor as Singh closed with him.

"So he point a gun and him and me and back and forth, and he didn't stop, and he was moving backwards towards the door to get out, and by that time he shot one round. Luckily he didn't get hit so he tackled him down out the door," Singh said.

Spokane police admire Singh's bravery, but say because just property was being stolen as opposed to people getting hurt he should have left the crime fighting to better equipped professionals.

"This is our job. Let us take that bullet. Let us put ourselves in that line of fire. I really don't want anybody else doing it. In this case it worked out, but if you watch the video you'll see it's an extremely dangerous situation," Spokane Police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said.

Singh and other witnesses held Hopkins until police arrived.

"I'm glad because at least the cops got him so he can't come back and do the same stuff again," Cal Singh said.

Hopkins shouldn't have had the .22 caliber pistol he used in the hold-up; first, it was stolen and second he's already a convicted felon. During his initial appearance Tuesday Judge Annette Plese set Hopkins' bail at Tuesday at $150,000.