Mike Brunn says Anthony Tobias saved the day. Tobias called Brunn the "true hero."
Police are crediting both fast-thinking Modesto residents with helping catch two teens suspected of stealing purses from two women in their 70s.
"The two citizens did an outstanding job of getting those guys into custody," Modesto police Lt. Scott Blom said Tuesday. "I applaud them for grabbing this guy."
The Modesto women were walking Monday afternoon in the busy alley that runs north-south between 11th and 12th streets near Wells Fargo Bank. Two teens approached from behind. The teens knocked both women over, stole their purses and took off, Blom said.
Brunn, 46, an insurance broker, heard one of the women screaming and said he saw the suspects running toward him as he walked south in the alley toward J Street. He ran after them.
Tobias quickly joined the chase. The 24-year-old was at the alley and K Street when he heard Brunn yelling at the suspects.
The two followed the suspects across K Street into the parking lot of Brighter Side sandwich shop, where one of the suspects tripped. When he got up, Tobias and Brunn tackled him, holding him until a police officer arrived a minute later.
Two officers from the department's street crimes unit caught the other suspect running near Ninth and L streets, Blom said.
The bystanders captured a 17-year-old boy from Modesto whose name was withheld because he's a minor. Police said the man officers caught was Anthony Anderson, 18, of Stockton. The two were arrested on suspicion of robbery and conspiracy to commit a robbery, Blom said.
Neither of the victims, whose last names are not being used to protect their privacy, said they noticed the robbers coming from behind.
"I just felt a hand on my head, and they pushed me down," said Maria, 70. "I was on the ground and he was pulling on my purse and I looked at him and saw his foot and thought, 'Oh my God, if he kicks me, I'm really going to get hurt.' That's when I let go."
Said the other victim, Isidra, 74: "They shouldn't be doing that to older ladies."
Maria suffered a cut to her knee, and both were left sore from the attack. Their purses, contents intact, were returned to them.
"The lucky part of all of this was Anthony was there," Brunn said. "He's a lot younger and faster than me. If Anthony wasn't there, I wouldn't have been able to hold down the guy."
Said Tobias: "The real hero is Mike. He was the one who saw what happened. He went after them initially."
Blom said detectives are looking into a possible connection between Monday's incident and robberies Saturday morning in which a man threatened four people with a knife and a handgun, stealing one woman's purse and hitting two people in the face when they told him they didn't have any money.
The four victims Saturday were in their 50s or older, including an 86-year-old man and a 63-year-old woman.
Police Sgt. Brian Findlen said there were no indications from the police report that those involved in Monday's incident were armed.
Blom lauded the bystanders, but he cautioned that there's a risk in going after attackers and that "first and foremost, be a good witness" -- get a license plate number and a description of the attackers.
Brunn said: "It was shocking. Your brain really doesn't register what is going on. Halfway through the chase, you wonder if you're doing the right thing. You never know about these clowns.
"You don't really think about it until you get home and you're sitting on your couch with a beer."
Maria couldn't be more thankful for Tobias' and Brunn's quick actions.
"They're great," she said. "They were lifesavers to me."
Bee online content editor Brian Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2362.