When the "young punk" drove off with his son’s battered motorized scooter Sunday morning, Gilbert resident Joel Mendoza didn’t hesitate. He jumped in his truck and chased the thief.
When the "kid" whipped out a gun and fired four shots at him, Mendoza didn’t pause. He grew more determined.
Until the fifth shot.
"After he fired that last shot and hit my bumper, I decided to back off," said Mendoza, 39. "People are saying I’m lucky, but I think he’s lucky, too. He’s lucky he had a gun and that I didn’t catch him."
About 11 a.m. Sunday, Mendoza was sitting in his home in the 400 block of East Sage Brush Street when he saw a truck pull up. His wife, Veronica, and two children were at church.
He assumed the teenager in the Chevrolet pickup was visiting a neighbor until he saw him come out of his garage and throw the motorized scooter into the bed.
Mendoza chased the thief for 20 minutes. Desperate to get away, the thief drove on sidewalks, ran red lights, slid through grassy ravines, and then took five shots at Mendoza near Val Vista Drive and Elliot Road.
When the police caught up to Mendoza, he was able to give them all but the last digit of the truck’s license plate number.
Mendoza picked out a suspect from a photo lineup and a search was conducted Sunday afternoon at a Mesa home, but no arrests have been made, said Gilbert police Lt. Joe Ruet.
The thief simply chose the wrong garage to burglarize, Mendoza said. "It wasn’t the Go-Ped. It was just the matter of him going into my garage and taking something of mine. . . . Maybe the next time a punk like that won’t walk into another garage."