Customer’s shot stops robbery before police finally catch accused crook

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Police say they’ve arrested the man responsible for a string of robberies last month going all the way from Raleigh to Midtown to North Memphis.

In one case, at a Family Dollar store on Hollywood, police say a man's actions at the store might have saved the clerk’s life.

Richard Smith said he planned to meet his sister at the store early last month, but she went to the wrong location, so he was inside alone in one of the aisles.

"I heard some distressed conversation,"Smith said. "I peeked back and observed. I saw this guy with a pistol in the cashier’s face.”

Police say the robber demanded the clerk hand over cash and cigarettes.

Smith, a military veteran, reacted right away, shooting in the direction of the crook.

"Just a quick sound reflex. Just did what I was trained to do,” he said.

The shot didn’t hit anyone, but it worked. Police say the robber ran off without getting anything.

Police say they detained Smith for firing on scene here but ultimately did not charge him. A police department spokesperson tells us that’s probably because they found he was justified at using deadly force to protect the clerk when she had a gun to her head.

"I’m glad it turned out a lot better than it normally does,” Smith said.

His mother, Mary Jean Smith, said she thinks he saved a life. "The guy in there he could’ve killed some people,” she said.

But according to police, this suspect’s rampage didn’t end there.

They say the same man also tried to rob a Raleigh Dollar General on the same night. In that case, police say a security guard drew his gun and ordered the suspect the drop his.

Instead, he ran, and a week and a half later, police say he held up a Sprint store on Poplar, terrifying employees and demanding they hand over nearly $1,000 in cash.

Arsenio Taylor

Investigators say they pieced together evidence and caught up with 31-year-old Arsenio Taylor at this Northaven home Tuesday. They found the sweatshirt, pants, shoes and gun used in the robberies and seen on video.

Taylor now faces multiple charges including aggravated robbery.

"I hope they can continue to get these criminals locked up out here,” Smith said. "Being a just man, I just wish him peace and time to find himself.”

He also hopes his community can find peace amid so much crime.

"I’ve had too many soldiers die in the community. Innocent bystanders and children. It’s time to teach the children a better way of life,” he said.

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