Gilbert father apprehends suspect fleeing from police - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Gilbert father apprehends suspect fleeing from police

Posted: Updated:
Ernest Zarza (Source: Gilbert Police Department) Ernest Zarza (Source: Gilbert Police Department)
(Source: Gilbert Police Department) (Source: Gilbert Police Department)
Matt Emerson (Source: CBS 5 News) Matt Emerson (Source: CBS 5 News)
GILBERT, AZ (CBS5) -

A Gilbert husband and father sprang into action when he spotted a suspected criminal trying to escape from pursuing police officers.

"I asked him, 'why were you running?' He didn't answer," said Matt Emerson. "The cops showed up and I went and got my hamburger from McDonalds."

It should have been just a normal everyday trip to a Gilbert McDonalds for Emerson. He was early to pick up his daughter from school and had turned off of Power Road to head for the restaurant when he saw a man dart out of a nearby Wells Fargo bank with two police officers in hot pursuit.

Seeing this unfold right in front of him, Emerson drove his car to block a likely escape point from the suspect and he saw him dart into the McDonalds.

"I kind of got out of my car knowing that I didn't see any cops around, I thought I'd take it into my own hands a little bit to help out," said Emerson.

The suspect, 48-year-old Ernest Zarza, was running because cops caught him trying to cash a bad check with a stolen driver's license.

Emerson, a husband and father of three, is a ramp worker at Sky Harbor airport. He chased Zarza into the restaurant.

"When I rushed in, first thing I could think of was 'did you all see a guy run in here?' And they said, 'yeah, he went outside,'" said Emerson.

The suspect headed for a nearby neighborhood and Emerson quickly gave chase.

"As much of a sprint as a 230 pound guy can do in flip flops," he said with a grin.

When Emerson was within about five feet of the suspect he yelled out for him to stop. Much to his surprise, the suspect complied.

"I didn't think I had a voice like that. That would make someone stop," said Emerson. "I told him to get his hand behind his back. I grabbed his hand and got his other hand. I had my knee like this (in the center of his back).

Emerson tells CBS 5 his wife offered him praise, but then pondered the alternatives.

"She did say, 'what would you have done if he had a gun?' It's funny how you don't think about that when you're in the moment," he said.

Emerson says he has always had an interest in law enforcement work. He has done ride-a-longs with police departments and he has family that works with the Customs and Border Patrol.

However, after a bit of excitement to break up the daily routine, Emerson says he is sticking with his day job.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Most ReadMost ReadMore>>

  • When disciplining a child goes too far

    When disciplining a child goes too far

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 8:57 AM EDT2014-09-16 12:57:00 GMT
    Pending child abuse charges against star Minnesota Viking running back Adrian Peterson has brought spanking back under public scrutiny after photos of his bruised child surfaced. News Leader 9's Brittany
    More >>
    Pending child abuse charges against star Minnesota Viking running back Adrian Peterson has brought spanking back under public scrutiny after photos of his bruised child surfaced. News Leader 9's Brittany Dionne spoke with local experts to find out when spanking becomes abuse. More >>
  • Columbus Police searching for motor vehicle theft suspects

    Columbus Police searching for motor vehicle theft suspects

    Monday, September 15 2014 10:53 AM EDT2014-09-15 14:53:57 GMT
    Columbus Police are requesting the public's assistance identifying three suspects responsible for two unrelated motor vehicle thefts.More >>
    Columbus Police are requesting the public's assistance identifying three suspects responsible for two unrelated motor vehicle thefts.More >>
  • CPD searching for robbery suspect

    CPD searching for robbery suspect

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 6:17 AM EDT2014-09-16 10:17:08 GMT
    Columbus police need your help identifying suspects involved in a robbery. The attached pictures were taken from surveillance footage from the M&N package store on Cusseta Road.       More >>
    Columbus police need your help identifying suspects involved in a robbery. The attached pictures were taken from surveillance footage from the M&N package store on Cusseta Road.       More >>
Powered by WorldNow

1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, Ga. 31906

FCC Public File
publicfile@wtvm.com
706-494-5400
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WTVM. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.