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Homeowner and neighbors capture burglar

Originally ran here as:
Armed Neighbors Corner Unarmed Robbery Suspect
By Jeremy Pawloski
Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 16, 2001

An intruder allegedly tried to rob a home in Santa Fe on Monday afternoon and wound up cornered by its 20-year-old occupant and two neighbors armed with handguns.

Carl Gallegos, 20, helped his two neighbors apprehend the intruder after finding him in his family's home in the Bellamah subdivision, Gallegos said Tuesday.

Samuel John Fernandez, 29, of Santa Fe, was charged with burglary after his arrest Monday, Santa Fe Police Department spokesman Capt. Rick Smith said Tuesday.

Fernandez was unarmed when police arrested him, Smith added.

Gallegos said he heard his dogs barking about 4:30 p.m. and went to the living room to investigate. He found an intruder, who'd walked in through an unlocked door, standing there.

"I was frightened," Gallegos said. "I was, I think, more shocked than anything."

Gallegos went to a back room to grab a baseball bat, he said. When he returned, the intruder went in another direction inside the home and Gallegos left for a neighbor's house.

Gallegos said he and the neighbor returned to the house. The neighbor brought a handgun with him, he said.

The intruder ran out the back door, jumped a fence and attempted to hide behind a storage shed at the home of the neighbor who was following him with the gun, Gallegos said.

The neighbor's father then went into his own back yard, armed with a phone and a handgun, told the intruder to "get on the floor," and called police, Gallegos said.

Gallegos said the man appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"He was bigger than me," Gallegos said of the man who walked into his home. "I didn't run into (Shaquille O'Neal) or anything, but he was bigger than I was."

On Tuesday, Fernandez had been released from the Santa Fe County jail on bail, according to a jail spokeswoman. The amount wasn't available due to computer problems, she said.

Gallegos' father, Albert Gallegos, said Tuesday that the neighborhood is usually quiet.

Smith said police generally recommend that if a suspect enters a home, an occupant should leave.

"Get out and don't go back," Smith said.

The neighbor who went back into Gallegos' home with a gun "took a risk," Smith added.

KABA NOTE #1 -- Captain Rick Smith telling citizens to turn over their homes to intruders says quite a bit about his character. What a leader they have in Santa Fe.

KABA NOTE #2 -- It's most enlightening to see the Journal's title of this story: "Armed Neighbors Corner Unarmed Robbery Suspect." Are we to think that the armed citizens capturing an unarmed intruder should also disarm, to somehow equalize the playing field? That intruder is lucky he's alive, and had he been captured inside a less patient person's home, he wouldn't be.

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