'Jesus' saves Broward storekeeper from a robbery
Remorseful robber leaves Broward cellphone store empty-handed after talking religion with cool-headed manager.
Updated: 4:25 p.m. Friday, July 30, 2010
Posted: 8:02 a.m. Friday, July 30, 2010
Nayara Goncalves already experienced one of the ``biggest moments'' of her life: becoming a Christian.
The second came last Friday, when the 20-year-old cellphone store manager put her good works to good use -- persuading a would-be armed robber to put away his gun and leave her store in the name of the Lord.
Every moment of the more than five-minute exchange between a calm Goncalves and the nervous, unidentified robber was captured on a store surveillance camera.
The robber walked into the MetroPCS store at 1543 S. Cypress Rd. in Pompano Beach around 10 a.m July 23, wearing a dark cap and jacket and holding an umbrella.
He exchanges pleasantries with Goncalves, asking whether she was keeping dry, then asks to see a phone.
Moments later, he reaches into his coat, apparently showing her a gun. He apologizes: ``I really hate to do this. . . . Don't be scared.''
``I'm not scared,'' replies Goncalves, a devout Christian who was working alone. She calmly walks back to her cash register, telling the man, ``You can do whatever you want, but I'm just going to talk to you about Jesus, my God, before you leave.''
The man momentarily pauses, and says, ``God bless you for that.''
Goncalves tells him she is a Christian. He replies sheepishly, ``So am I and I absolutely hate doing this. I do. I'm embarrassed to do this. But I have no choice.''
He says he has attended Calvary Chapel.
``Calvary Chapel?'' ``Pastor Bob?'' Goncalves asks, saying she has visited there.
Yes, the robber replies, ``Pastor Bob.''
``I'm so sorry to put you through this,'' he says.
Attempts by The Miami Herald Thursday night to reach Pastor Bob Coy at Calvary Chapel in North Broward were unsuccessful.
Goncalves continues to talk to the man, giving soothing responses of ``I know, I know,'' as he opens up about his troubles -- telling Goncalves he's married, has a job, and that he needed $300 to stave off eviction.
As if sensing an opening, Goncalves continues, her voice breaking for a split second, ``I don't know what you're going through. But all of us are going through a hard time right now.''
The man barely looks at her. ``That's why I refuse to do anything out in the streets. I've never done this before.''
She offers to connect him with friends to help him find a job.
He says he had one.
She suggests he seek a loan from a friend.
He says he spent the last three days trying to do that, to no avail.
``I'm not very good at this obviously. If there's no money in the register, can you show me?''
The man reasons that since she doesn't own the store, ``I wouldn't be hurting you.''
But her single break from the gospel truth comes when she gently fibs that her employer would take any stolen money out of her pay.
He throws in the towel.
``I don't want to do that to you. I'm sorry,'' he says, turning to walk away. ``I understand you still have to call the police . . . ''
Ever calm, Goncalves calls out to him as he walks off. ``You know you don't need to do that. You know Jesus. He can help you!''
He blesses her a second time.
Emboldened, Goncalves urges him to ``go back to church.'' Before leaving the storefront, he calls back: ``You know one thing? Good is coming your way for what you did today.''
Then he confesses: ``You wanna know something? It's not real. It's a BB gun. That's how great I am at this.''
She urges him to ``be careful, have a good one. May God bless you.''
And he was gone.
Broward sheriff's deputies are looking for a mustachioed male, five-foot, nine inches, in his late-30s to mid-40s and possibly armed.
``I haven't seen anything like this in 14 years,'' said BSO spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright. ``She really seemed to have no fear.''
Goncalves said the man seemed to have lost all hope.
``To tell you the truth, I believe him when he said he wasn't a bad guy -- like a criminal all the time. I believe that he was just desperate, like he said.''
Miami Herald staff writers Mara Rudolph and Laura Morel contributed to this report.