One of three men involved in stopping a bank robbery suspect on Friday said carrying a sidearm is the responsibility of able-bodied, law-abiding men.
Flagstaff resident Dave Young said he was driving up to the Arizona Central Credit Union branch on North West Street shortly after 4 p.m. on Friday when he was puzzled by the sight of his friend, Michael Pileggi, detaining a woman.
He quickly noticed his friend's son, Chase Pileggi, was also trying to stop a man as he jumped over a fence. Young said he quickly confirmed that a bank robbery had occurred and took off after the two in his vehicle.
Young caught up with the pair nearby and watched as Chase tackled the man. The younger Pileggi got the man in a hold and Young placed his hand on his sidearm, showing the suspect that he was armed. He did not pull his gun.
"I provided cover for him. If the suspect had tried to pull a weapon I could have stopped him," Young said. "I told him don't move. I looked him over for weapons and visually inspected the suspect, then called 911."
TRAINING A PREREQUISITE
Police quickly arrived on scene and took custody of the robbery suspect, later identified as Joshua Nesmith, 32, of Flagstaff.
Officials said Nesmith was wearing a black hat and mask when he handed the teller a note and demanded that she give him money. The suspect had a knife he didn't display, but he tossed it.
Young said he doesn't believe he's a superhero, but he said as an able-bodied person, he feels duty-bound to help protect his community. Young has extensive martial arts training and has held a concealed carry permit since 1998 in preparation for a situation such as this.
In Arizona, gun owners can carry a concealed or exposed weapon without a permit or training.
"I think it's important if you're a male with a clean record to protect your community," Young said. "You should be ready to do something like this if possible."
However, Young also contends that anyone who wants to carry a weapon should go through the same training he has. That training taught him how to handle a weapon and gave him the mental and emotional control needed not to pull the weapon unless necessary, he said.
He said he believes that having a CCW permit to show to officers also made the police officers who responded to the scene feel more comfortable with him having a weapon.
"I didn't pull the weapon. Nobody got shot," he said.
MAGAZINE LIMITS UNWISE
In the wake of last week's Newtown, Conn. school shooting, which claimed the lives of 28 people, Young said he wants the community to know that responsible gun owners exist and can have a positive impact.
"As soon as I leave work, my pistol is at my side, and it doesn't leave my side unless I'm about to go into a place that doesn't allow it," he said.
Young disagrees with those now arguing for stricter regulation of firearms.
"Would you feel better if you were shot with a 10-round magazine instead of 30?" he said. "If criminals are going to have them, responsible citizens should be able to have them."
Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or email@example.com.