Instead of reacting with fear, he approached the robber and asked what was wrong, offering empathy and understanding.
Armed with nothing but a compassionate heart, a good samaritan is being hailed a hero after stopping a bank robbery attempt with an unexpected act of kindness. On May 22, Michael Armus Sr., a California resident, was at "Bank of the West" depositing a check when a potential robber with explosives entered. The robber, 42-year-old Eduardo Placensia approached a bank teller with a note, falsely claiming to possess a bomb and demanding money.
However, it was at this critical moment that Armus, 69, recognized Placensia as a former neighbor and a friend of his daughter. He knew at that moment that he had to step in and take charge of the situation, reports Good Morning America.
Placensia had concealed his face by pulling his shirt over his nose and mouth. The teller's visibly frightened expression immediately caught Armus's attention. "So, I just approached him and I asked him, I said, 'What's wrong? You don't have a job?'" Armus explained. "He said, 'There's nothing in this town for me. There is nothing in this town for me. I just want to go to prison.'"
He further shared, “So, I took him outside and I give the man a hug right here at the doors. He started crying.” The police arrived at the scene shortly after and arrested Placensia and booked him at the Yolo County jail for attempted robbery. According to the authorities, he was unarmed.
In a statement to ABC News, police lauded Armus, and called him a "Good Samaritan who delivered the right message that made a difference." Armus told that fate brought him to the bank that day. "It was meant for me to be here," he said. When questioned about the suspect, he told KCRA, "Like 25, 20 years ago, he lived in an apartment complex I did. I didn’t know him, but I have seen him around. He was a friend of my daughter’s."
"That broke the ice for me. The thing was, I saw something else. He seemed to be depressed, the way he was talking." Armus stated he is considering visiting Placensia in jail after his imprisonment. “Love overcomes all things. People don’t realize that. Try to be kind to somebody. It makes a difference."
To be compassionate is a vital aspect of being a human, and Armus is not the only one who has made the news by being a hero in such situations. When a suspect broke into Diablo’s Southwest Grill in Augusta, Georgia, to steal money in April 2021, owner Carl Wallace reacted to the attempted theft in a surprisingly gracious manner. He took to the restaurant's Facebook page and offered a job to the burglar at his restaurant.
"It really kind of occurred to me that it’s Easter weekend and to just extend an olive branch," Wallace told TODAY. "You know, extend the layer of forgiveness and kindness and give the would-be robber some redemption and a different path."
The suspect broke the glass door and entered the store, but left empty-handed because there was nothing in the register. The scene was recorded on a security camera, and a picture of the shattered glass and a still frame from the footage was attached to a Facebook post. In the post, Wallace wrote, "To the would-be robber who is struggling with life decisions or having money issues, please swing by for a job application. There are better opportunities out there than this path you’ve chosen."
He had left his number and assured the suspect that he would not involve the police. He added, "Let’s sit down and talk about how we could help you and fix the road you’re on."