Customer Thwarts Hostage Situation At Melrose Company

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

MELROSE (CBS) – Neighbors on Main Street in Melrose captured the scene around 9:30 Friday morning at the Williams and Alley insurance agency.

About 90 minutes earlier, someone broke into the business through a back window to rob the place, but didn’t find anything.

“There wasn’t much for him to do inside, so he waited until the staff came in in the morning,” explains the agency’s owner, Ronald Alley.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports.

Two of Alley’s female employees arrived by 9 a.m. The first was bound and gagged and put in a bathroom. The second was just told to keep still.

The knife-wielding robber “Made all sets of terrible threats,” said Alley, as he demanded money, or keys to a safe, or anything to make his efforts worthwhile.

The women tried to reason with the suspect, but “They couldn’t make him understand we’re an insurance agency we don’t handle money,” said Alley. “All we got’s a mess of papers and computers.”

The women were terrified – until a client came to the door.

Somehow, one of them was able to let the 55-year-old customer in and let him know they were in trouble.

That’s when the customer leapt into action, fighting with the robber and holding him down until police arrived.

“If it weren’t for him we don’t know what would have happened,” says Alley. “This guy didn’t bat an eyelash; he saw ladies in trouble and did the right thing.”

The good Samaritan ended up with chest pains for his trouble, but doctors gave him a clean bill of health.

And Mr. Alley gave him a gift certificate for a nice dinner, but says he’s looking for an even better way to say thank you.

As for the suspect, he, too, complained of pains and was taken to Winchester Hospital. Melrose police planned to book him as soon as they were able.

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