Police: Witness Helps Thwart Armed Robbery in Modesto

MODESTO -- It was either fight or flight when one good Samaritan heard gunshots Saturday in Modesto.

Angelo Verdone says his Saturday morning coffee run quickly turned into a surreal scene.

"With no questions in my mind, he was going to murder both of them, hop in the car and be gone," Verdone told FOX40.

Verdone says a gun went off while he was inside Scotty's Donuts in Modesto. Outside, an older man, whose frightened partner was watching from their Mustang convertible, was struggling with a 30-year-old man later identified as Braden Taylor.

Verdone says he recognized Taylor as someone who had been harassing customers moments before.

"Take care of this gentleman or get in my car and take off but that would make me a coward," Verdone recalled thinking at the time.

Verdone says he told the owner to call 911 but she was so shaken she could barely hold the phone.

"So I dialed 911," Verdone said. "I went out back, she opened the door for me and I told her, 'Stay here, don’t go out front.'"

Verdone ran to the car, where the man had been shot in the chest. Without question, he joined the fight.

"I pinned him down between the seats and my next instinct is to go is I got my knees over his ribs," Verdone recalled.

Verdone said he started to gain control, but Taylor still had the gun.

"Must have hurt somebody’s fingers but at that point I really didn’t care. It’s a broken finger or a life," Verdone said. "I tossed (the gun) out of the car and then I just got the best out of him.”

Within five minutes, officers swarmed the scene and took Taylor in.

Officers also had something for Verdone. Sgt. Jamie Demings says the officers who handled the call awarded Verdone with a citizen challenge coin Sunday night for going above and beyond.

"Although we don’t suggest that to people, we would never fault him for that," Demings said. "He probably saved that person’s life, if not, both those people."

Verdone, who just turned 61 years old, says he knows what he did was dangerous. But beyond fear, he found the strength to be a hero.

Verdone said he planned on meeting up with the victim, who was shot in the chest. He is expected to be OK.