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VIDEO: Would-be robber locked in store begs for release

Posted at 12:44 AM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-04 00:44:53-05

HOUSTON (KTRK/CNN) – A quick-thinking clerk at a cell phone store in Houston locked a would-be robber inside the store, leading him to beg for release before police ultimately arrested him.

Investigators released surveillance video of suspect John Bell, who pleaded guilty in December, entering the Latino Cell store in April with the intention of robbing it.

Clerk Karina Leon says she knew immediately what Bell intended.

"As soon as he entered, he just pointed the gun at me, and I knew instantly I'm getting robbed again,” Leon said.

Having been robbed just weeks before, Leon decided to jump into action. She refused to open the register then when Bell went into an office, the clerk rushed the customers out of the store and locked the door.

Bell was trapped inside with nowhere to go.

Over the next six minutes, Bell can be seen on video trying several tactics to escape, including kicking the door and shooting at its lock.

Police say the latter method backfired.

"What he did was he broke the lock on the inside, so when he found keys and tried to make his way out, he wasn't able to get out because he messed the lock up,” said Officer Jeff Brieden with the Houston Police Department.

Eventually, Bell resorted to begging for release.

"At some point, I kind of did feel bad when I saw he got on his knees and begged me,” Leon said.

But Leon was resolute, calling 911 and waiting for police to arrive.

The officers opened the door and arrested Bell about one minute after the man can be seen putting his hands up, as if he had already surrendered.

"I think once he realized he was done, he just stood there and waited and put his hands in the air,” Brieden said. "He scales the 10 for the dumbest crooks out there, for sure."

Bell was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to the crime. At the time of the robbery, he was out of jail on probation for a 2015 aggravated robbery case.

Copyright 2018 KTRK, Houston Police Department via CNN. All rights reserved.