NEW BEDFORD (CBS) – A would-be robber in New Bedford was saved from an angry mob by the man he tried to rob.

Police say the suspect, Joseph Defreitas, 22, walked into J&L Market Wednesday evening and pulled a knife on store owner Juan Rodriguez.

“I was reading the bible and when the guy came into the store, he surprised me. He jumped right away from outside and grabbed me from my neck,” Rodriguez said. “I grabbed the baseball bat and said, ‘now we’re going to see who’s going to get the money.'”

Rodriguez, 55, started chasing Defreitas down the street and yelling.

Neighbors heard Rodriguez, and several of them came out to help.

By the time police arrived, Defreitas was bloodied, beaten, and had been forced by the mob to strip down to his underwear.

The situation could have been even worse, but Rodriguez, the man who had just been held up, used his body to shield Defreitas from the crowd of people, and he pleaded with them to stop kicking and beating the suspect.

“I told him face to face hey, you come to kill me and look now I’m protecting you,” Rodriguez said.

Defreitas, who remains in the hospital, is charged with armed assault with intent to rob.

Police say they will investigate the alleged mob beating and bring charges if warranted.

“I think the line has been crossed,” New Bedford Police Cpt. Steve Vicente said. “The best course of action is you do contain the individual if you can safely and wait for police.”


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