Teenager robbed at gunpoint while selling water to support his elderly grandma – community rallies around him


CAMDEN, NJ — Isaiah Cruz stands at an intersection between Baird Boulevard and Marlton Pike in Camden, selling water bottles and handing out verbal blessings.

He is positioned there seven days a week, 12 hours a day. He sells the bottled water as a way to ensure that his grandmother can make ends meet, after she lost her husband last year. 

Oh, also…Cruz is 16 years old. 

He said:

“I tell them, ‘God bless’ all the time, every single time I sell water. Thank you, thank you, God bless, even if they don’t buy it. I just still say, ‘God bless.’ I appreciate everything.

“I just try my best, I have two sisters, I make sure they good and give them money here and there.”

But, just a few weeks ago, his day was scarier than other days. He and a friend were hanging out after he was done for the day. 

Cruz recounted:

“They had a gun to my head and I thought I was going to die. Usually people out here that take people’s money, they make sure they die.”

The “they” he was referring to was a couple of guys that held him up at gunpoint. 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The men, Cruz said, were wearing dark clothing and masks. One pointed a gun at him and ordered: “Give me everything,” before going into Cruz’s pockets and taking his money.

“I thought I was going to die because that’s what happens around here.”

The thieves made off with about $70 from his friend, and about three weeks’ worth of Cruz’s profits, upward of $1,000. They also took his iPhone.

It didn’t take long for word of the robbery to spread.

Soon, someone bought a bottle of water and slipped a $100. Other people started dropping off cases of water. Others offered him advice, like get a bank account to put your money in, and get a Costco membership so that you can buy water cheaper in bulk and turn a higher profit margin. 

Cruz and his friend were indeed fortunate to escape with their lives. 

His grandmother laid down some new ground rules for the teenager. 

His grandmother said:

“If he is going to keep selling water, he has to be home before dark.”

She would also stop by more between shifts driving Uber to check on him and pick up his money for safekeeping, according to the Inquirer.

It is too bad that Cruz was not fortunate enough to have a couple of off-duty cops there to foil the robbery. 

That is what happened in February in Louisville.

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LOUISVILLE, KY– The couple who fights crime together… stays together.

Two off-duty Elizabethtown Police officers who were eating at a Louisville Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers drew their guns and apprehended a suspect who was attempting to rob the store Feb. 16.
A man picked the wrong Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers to rob that night.
Then again, depending on your perspective…it may have been the right one.
The officers, Chase McKeown and Nicole McKeown, were enjoying a “date night” at the restaurant.
Surveillance video shows the officers were eating at the restaurant in Louisville when a man showed a gun and demanded cash from an employee.
They left their booth, drew their guns and chased the suspect out of the restaurant, video shows.
The couple, who have been married for six months, met while he was a patrol officer and she was a dispatcher for the agency. Nicole McKeown said, “I saw her hands go up and I said, ‘Is he doing what I think he’s doing?'”
Teenager robbed at gunpoint while selling water to support his elderly grandma - community rallies around him
YouTube video screenshot

Justin Carter, 30, was charged Saturday with first-degree robbery, police say. He had dropped his gun before he ran away and was taken into custody outside Cane’s, according to an arrest citation.

In addition to the robbery charge, Carter faces charges of receiving stolen property and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon. The gun was stolen from the Jeffersontown Police Department. Carter’s bond was set at $50,000. He was set to appear in court again Feb. 25, records show.

Teenager robbed at gunpoint while selling water to support his elderly grandma - community rallies around him
YouTube video screenshot

“It was just what needed to be done,” Chase McKeown said of their actions.

This is not the only time officers simply did what needed to be done, even though they weren’t on the clock or in their area of jurisdiction. 

An armed suspect with a violent history trying to rob a Walmart in Houston, Texas, was the latest example of the judicial system catering to criminals instead of protecting the communities they’re tasked with serving.

On Jan. 10,  a young man entered the Walmart with the intent to rob the department store. Luckily, an off-duty police officer was there to thwart the attempted robbery. However, if the suspect was in prison like he should have been, there would have been no attempted robbery to prevent in the first place.

According to news outlet KPRC, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office stated that deputies had responded to reports of a shooting that transpired at the Walmart located in the 9200 block of North Sam Houston Parkway at about 3:06 p.m.

Teen on probation tries to rob Walmart with a shotgun. Off-duty cop: Not in my town.

When authorities investigated the scene, they learned that an off-duty Houston police officer was inside the Walmart when 18-year-old Antonio Washington made an attempt to rob the department store. Washington, who was armed with a shotgun at the time, began pointing his weapon at employees behind the counter at the customer service area.

The off-duty police officer, who was shopping at the time, witnessed what was going on and then engaged the armed man. She fired her weapon at Washington, disarmed him and then went to administer first aid after shooting the suspect.

The suspect was later transported to the Ben Taub Hospital and was described as being in stable condition. Based upon the alleged actions of Washington, he’s currently facing multiple charges related to the attempted robbery.

Houston Police Assistant Chief Bobby Dobbins spoke to the press following the incident, stating the following:

“Unfortunately, this individual was shot because of what he did, but our officer did everything she could do not only to protect the public but also to protect him once he was shot so I think today she’s a hero for what she did.”

The chief couldn’t have explained it better. Despite the alleged actions of Washington showing his blatant disregard for life, the officer counteracted the threat and then provided lifesaving measures to help the suspect.

The female officer involved, who has not been identified by name, was described by Chief Dobbins as a 17-year veteran of the Houston Police Department. According to a Facebook post by the Houston Police Officers’ Union, they stated:

“Thanks to the heroic actions of our officer, the threat of Antonio Washington killing or seriously injuring anyone was neutralized.”

This next one did not end as happily. 

In Florida, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office has identified 28-year-old Franklin Reed III as the man accused of killing Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Bullock in Martin County earlier this month.

Witnesses say the suspect, Reed, of Palm Bay, was in a dispute with a tow truck operator over his disabled vehicle that was in the median at mile marker 107.

“The bad guy was trying to get his car off the tow truck and there was an exchange of gunfire,” says Adam Phillips who witnessed the commotion.

Phillips said Reed tried to shoot the tow truck operator, but the gun jammed, and the tow truck driver ran and hid in the bushes.

Riviera Beach Police Officer Jamel Headings saw what was happening and stopped. He shot and killed Reed.

Headings, who has been with the department ten years, is on administrative leave, which is the standard policy after a shooting.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which is investigating the shootings, had no comment.

Bullock spent 19 years with the Florida Highway Patrol and was always stationed in Fort Pierce. He leaves behind two sisters and his parents.

The trooper’s loss is felt statewide among law enforcement.

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony talked about the impact during a media Q&A session Thursday:

“While these incidents don’t happen very often, it’s a reminder of how dangerous these jobs are,” he said. “We need the community’s support and should pray for the family because it’s tough.”

In speaking with TCPalm.com., Sgt. Gerry Harrington with Port St. Lucie police said he and Bullock always backed each other up:

“You loved him, or you hated him. If you loved him it was because you knew him and he always had your back,” Harrington said. “He was a cop’s cop. He was so militaristic. He dressed appropriately. He was always looking sharp. He truly represented the Florida Highway Patrol the way it should be in a very positive light.”

Harrington said if you didn’t like Bullock, it was because he caught you doing something wrong.

“He made you accountable for that,” Harrington said.

Harrington said Bullock took great pride in his profession, noting a social media post from late 2019 in which Bullock was polishing his name badge.

“He wanted the public to see that he cared about himself, and he took a lot of honor in not only Florida Highway Patrol, but his name, and he represented that,” Harrington said.

Mark Zook, who retired from Florida Highway Patrol in 2017 after more than three decades with the agency, said Bullock was “very conscientious” and enjoyed the job:

“He loved stopping the bad guys and dealing with them,” Zook said. “He wasn’t necessarily out to write as many tickets as possible. Instead, he’d use the opportunity to teach motorists what they did wrong and help them. He just wanted to serve the public. He was a trooper’s trooper, that’s for sure.”

Zook said he was a great guy and mentor:

“He trained them (troopers) about safety and interacting with the motoring public, and the aspects of the job,” Zook said.

Harrington said in uniform Bullock had “that serious trooper look, the typical highway patrolman. He defined that role.”

Bullock, a U.S. Air Force veteran, also had an infectious smile.

Harrington said Bullock at one point lived in St. Lucie County, but most recently lived in Martin County and said he was part of the community.

“It didn’t matter that he didn’t work for Port St. Lucie,” Harrington said. “He looked after our citizens as if they were his own. He had a sense of ownership to our area because he lived here.”

Detective Rafael Rodriguez, who worked with Bullock in the Florida Highway Patrol before Rodriguez joined Port St. Lucie police, said Bullock also had a good sense of humor.

He said Bullock’s father was also in law enforcement.

He said Bullock was one of his first role models in law enforcement.

Others stressed his caution, tactical prowess and self-awareness.

“If he ever backed me up on a traffic stop, I knew without a doubt in the world I was walking away from that traffic stop because I had probably one of the best people watching my back at that point,” Sistarelli said. <—WHO IS THIS? FIRST MENTION****

Sistarelli called Bullock “the definition of tactical.”

“He was always aware of his surroundings, always looking back, always watching over his shoulder,” Sistarelli said.

Rodriguez said that while in the Air Force, Bullock was stationed in South Dakota and was involved with security forces:

“At the end of the day he was someone to look up to, both professional and as a friend.”

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