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Third-degree black belt waiter tackles suspected thief during attempted robbery

IHOP waiter Elijah Arnold stopped a suspected robber using his knowledge as a third-degree black belt. (Photo: Sinclair Broadcast Group)

SAN ANTONIO – A local IHOP waiter went from serving pancakes to serving up justice on a would-be robber.

Turns out, the bad guy messed with a third-degree black belt.

Police were called to the restaurant near I-10 and Vance Jackson for a report of a robbery shortly after 6 a.m. Thursday. They took the suspect into custody and are still looking for a man and a woman who were with him.

The waiter, Elijah Arnold, shared his eyewitness account, still wearing a bloody shirt and sporting a bandage on his nose.

He said when the group of three walked into the restaurant, something just didn’t seem right.

"When I stepped into the galley, I just got that feeling where I needed to wait and listen,” Arnold said.

Five to ten minutes later, he heard the cash register pop.

"That's really the sound that haunts me because that's the sound that put me into action,” Arnold said. "I like, ran up. He like, swung the crowbar at me. I blocked with [my left] arm, I hit him with [my right] hand and I pulled him to the ground. During that process, I don't know if my face hit the register or hit the ground - because he has a scar on his head and I have a big old bloody nose now."

He held the suspect down until police got there.

"Even on the ground when I was holding him, he was begging me: ‘Please let me go, just give me the money, you should understand this,’” Arnold said.

The thing is, the waiter does understand hard times - more than the suspect could have known.

"Two weeks ago, I wasn't working,” Arnold said. “I was homeless."

He just got the job at IHOP, just got a new work shirt (now bloodstained) and had just scraped together enough cash to get a used car.

"I got new tires on the back of my car yesterday and I got a flat today,” Arnold said.

He certainly knows the value of a dollar - enough to fight for it.

"That was my money in the register,” Arnold said. “It was my manager's money in the register. And it was my IHOP's money in the register. And I'm not going to let anybody take that."

By EMILY BAUCUM

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