A little love can go a long way.
A story out of Woodland, California, a town outside of Sacramento, shows that sometimes, a little empathy can turn a potentially violent situation into a peaceful outcome. According to the Woodland Police Department, it all unfolded at a Bank of the West on Monday, May 22, at 11:00 a.m.
Michael Armus Sr., 69, was waiting in line when he noticed a man slip a teller a note. The tellers looked concerned, and the man who slipped the note had his shirt pulled over the bottom of his face. The man claimed that he had a gun. It was a robbery.
Then Armus noticed something familiar about the man. It was his former neighbor, Eduardo Plasencia, 43, who was also his daughter’s friend.
“I seen that the way he was talking, he was getting irritated. He said, ‘I don’t want to hurt anybody,’” Armus said, according to NBC 15.
Armus noticed that Plasencia sounded troubled. So, instead of attempting to disarm him and stop the robbery, he asked him some questions.
“He seemed to be depressed the way he was talking, so… I said, ‘What’s wrong? You don’t have a job?’ He said, ‘There’s nothing in this town for me. I just want to go to prison,’” Armus said.
"I felt compassion for the man. What could have happened to this guy to make him want to go in there and just throw his life away?” he told ABC 7 Chicago.
Armus then asked if they could step outside.
“So, I took him outside, and I give the man a hug right here at the doors. He started crying,” Armus said. “Then, I stepped away from him, and swoop, here come all the cops–no sirens, just lights everywhere, rifles out, ‘Get on the ground!’”
The Woodland Police Department later applauded Armus, saying he calmed the would-be robber down and encouraged him not to commit the crime.
“His words of wisdom worked and Plasencia changed his mind and left the bank,” the police department wrote on Facebook. The police later told ABC that Armus is a "Good Samaritan who delivered the right message that made a difference."
Who knows what would have happened if Plasencia hadn't left the bank with Armus and been arrested? It’s pretty remarkable that in a situation fraught with so much tension and danger, Armus had the presence of mind to determine the robber’s emotional state and coax him out of the situation.
He also had the compassion to see him as more than just a criminal, but a person who had fallen on hard times and needed some serious help.
"It was meant for me to be here," Armus told ABC News.
Plasencia was booked at Yolo County for attempted robbery. When police apprehended him, he wasn’t armed, as he had told the bank tellers.
“Thank you to the very brave Good Samaritan who delivered the right message that made a difference,” the police department wrote on Facebook.
Armus says that he may visit Plasencia in jail to see how he's holding up.
“Love overcomes all things. People don’t realize that. Try to be kind to somebody. It makes a difference,” he said.
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