Gilbert father apprehends suspect fleeing from police - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Gilbert father apprehends suspect fleeing from police

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.

  • Local NewsLOCALMore>>

  • 'Solo' sputters in takeoff with $83.3M at box office

    'Solo' sputters in takeoff with $83.3M at box office

    Sunday, May 27 2018 11:54 AM EDT2018-05-27 15:54:44 GMT
    Sunday, May 27 2018 11:38 PM EDT2018-05-28 03:38:17 GMT
    (Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm via AP). In this image released by Lucasfilm, Alden Ehrenreich, right, and Joonas Suotamo appear in a scene from "Solo: A Star Wars Story."(Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm via AP). In this image released by Lucasfilm, Alden Ehrenreich, right, and Joonas Suotamo appear in a scene from "Solo: A Star Wars Story."
    The Han Solo spinoff "Solo: A Star Wars Story" came in well below expectations with an $83.3 million opening weekend at the North American box office.More >>
    The Han Solo spinoff "Solo: A Star Wars Story" came in well below expectations with an $83.3 million opening weekend at the North American box office.More >>
  • Man airlifted to hospital after water ski accident in Lamar Co.

    Man airlifted to hospital after water ski accident in Lamar Co.

    Sunday, May 27 2018 8:59 PM EDT2018-05-28 00:59:16 GMT
    Man airlifted to hospital after water ski accident in Lamar County; (Photo source: WDAM)Man airlifted to hospital after water ski accident in Lamar County; (Photo source: WDAM)

    A 40-year-old man was airlifted to the hospital after a water ski accident in Lamar County Sunday evening.

    More >>

    A 40-year-old man was airlifted to the hospital after a water ski accident in Lamar County Sunday evening.

    More >>
  • USM doubles down, captures C-USA postseason crown

    USM doubles down, captures C-USA postseason crown

    Sunday, May 27 2018 7:11 PM EDT2018-05-27 23:11:50 GMT
    The Golden Eagles will conclude spring drills at noon Saturday with the annual Black and Gold Game at M.M. Roberts Stadium.The Golden Eagles will conclude spring drills at noon Saturday with the annual Black and Gold Game at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

    For much of the 2018 season, the talk around Southern Miss baseball was the potency of the Golden Eagles’ big bats and potent offense. But over a five-day stretch at MGM Park in Biloxi, USM rode its pitching to claim a 2018 Conference USA Baseball Championship.

    More >>

    For much of the 2018 season, the talk around Southern Miss baseball was the potency of the Golden Eagles’ big bats and potent offense. But over a five-day stretch at MGM Park in Biloxi, USM rode its pitching to claim a 2018 Conference USA Baseball Championship.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly