OAKLAND (CBS SF) – When he witnessed an elderly woman getting assaulted at an Oakland gas station, Robb Revelli said he couldn’t stand by and do nothing. Police credit him with helping to nab the robbery suspect.

Revelli was out walking his dog Monday morning, and stopped in the Arco Am/Pm on MacArthur Boulevard at 106th Avenue. He came out and saw a panhandler brutally push a small woman to the ground as she pulled out her wallet to buy gas.

The man ran away as Revelli and his dog rushed towards them.

“I immediately helped her up and grabbed the credit cards that were scattered that had fallen out of her wallet,” he said.

The 90-year-old woman was obviously in pain, he said, her 88-pound frame having just collided with the cold pavement as someone tried to mug her. But she wasn’t in a rush to get to a doctor.

“I gave her the option of either taking her to the hospital or getting in her car and chasing him down. So she opted for chasing him down,” Revelli said.

“Let’s get him,” was how Revelli said she actually put it.

They drove about three blocks before spotting the man hiding behind a parked car on Talbot Avenue. The woman called 911 while Revelli chased down the 6-foot-tall, 200-pound man who had asked him for change on the way into the store, before the robbery.

“I put the car in park and jumped out and started chasing after him,” he said, “ended up jumping fences and ended up in someone’s back yard.”

Since the man was panhandling, Revelli figured he probably was not carrying a gun. But he did put up a fight during the 10 minutes it took police to get to the scene.

“He was begging and trying to give me the money. He did give me most of the cash out of his pockets, trying to bargain to let him go, but I took the cash and I didn’t let him go,” Revelli said.

Neighbors heard the noise. Some even saw the scuffle, but apparently ignored Revelli’s pleas for them to call the police.

“I was begging the people on the other side of the fence to call police, but all they saw were two people fighting in a backyard and I think they just wanted none of it. So they went back in the house,” he said.

He popped up to open the gate for the police officers who pounced on 27-year-old Damarea Johnson. He was jailed on suspicion of robbery and assault.

Though grateful to Revelli, the Oakland Police Department also put out a reminder to citizens that their own safety is of paramount importance. Revelli was fortunate to suffer just a few scratches and bruises.

The woman, too, was not seriously hurt.

“She’s not from Oakland. She’s from a different town. She made a wrong turn and ended up in the wrong part of Oakland,” Revelli said, an area he’s loved living in for the last two years despite an unfortunate code of silence around crime.

“It’s so bad in my neighborhood, so violent that something has to change,” he said.

“Nobody should be stalking old ladies.”

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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