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Armed business owner thwarts attempted robbery

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, at 11:06 a.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, at 2:27 p.m.

Steve Yager saw him approaching from two blocks away.

Even though it was awfully warm for the first morning of October, the pedestrian had his sweatshirt drawn up tight against him and the hood up over his head.

“Well, here comes trouble,” Yager thought.

Sure enough, the man came up to him and asked him for the time.

“There was a clock right there in the antique (store) window” right next to where he was parked in the 900 block of West Douglas on Monday morning, Yager said. “It was just a ploy.”

The man turned and walked to the front of the antique store, then returned to where Yager was waiting in his truck for an employee to arrive at about 10 a.m. so he could open the Club Billiards that he owns next door.

“Well, why don’t you just go ahead and give me your billfold and I won’t have to pull my gun?” Yager said the man told him.

“I said, ‘Really?’ ” Yager said. “I reached over like I was going to get my billfold and grabbed my gun and stuck it in his face and said, ‘You mean like this?’ ”

The would-be robber’s eyes grew wide and his demeanor suddenly shifted, Yager said.

“He says, ‘Oh, I was just kidding! I was just foolin’ with ya, ya know?’ ” Yager said the man replied.

“Man, you don’t need to do that,” Yager said he told the man. “You was lucky you didn’t get shot. What you need to do is get the hell out of here before you get hurt.”

The suspect removed his hands from his pockets and told Yager, “You have a nice day. I don’t really mean this. I’m just foolin’. I’m going to leave.”

He did just that, running west on Douglas and then south on Walnut in the Delano neighborhood of west Wichita.

Yager called 911 and later told officers that the suspect was a black male between the ages of 18 and 23. He was about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds and wore a black hoodie and faded gray jeans.

A day later, Yager reflected on the incident as regulars played cards at the table next to him in the dimly lit hall.

“I didn’t really want to shoot him and he never did show me a gun,” Yager said. “But he had his hands in his pockets. He could have had one.”

Lt. Doug Nolte said Yager did nothing illegal.

“He has a right to defend himself,” Nolte said.

Yager, 65, has a concealed-carry permit for his .38 revolver, which he said he got to protect himself. The business next door has been broken into a handful of times, he said, and other businesses in the area have been victimized as well.

“It just makes me mad,” Yager said of the attempted robbery. “Not mad enough to shoot him, but …”

The only thing that saved the man, Yager said, was that he didn’t make a sudden move with his hands.

“I had him dead to rights,” Yager said. “He’d been real stupid if he tried anything. All I had to do was put a little more pressure on that trigger, and I had him right in the chest. Boom, boom.”

Police were still looking for the would-be robber on Tuesday.

Because he hesitated before pulling the trigger, Yager said, “he’s going to live to tell about it. This was his lucky day.”

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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