FORT GREENE — A Fort Greene man wrestled a gun out of a would-be robber’s hands outside his home last week when the man tried to steal a ring he was planning to give his girlfriend so they could spend the rest of their lives together.
When a man pulled a gun on 22-year-old Larry Gonzalez outside his apartment on Adelphi Street near Myrtle Avenue on March 22 and demanded his ring, he said he had no choice but to refuse.
“That’s something sentimental to me and I don’t want to lose it,” Gonzalez told DNAinfo in front of his home on Thursday.
“I may not have the best job in the world, but it was something I worked hard to give ... the person I want to be with.”
Gonzalez said he was walking home with girlfriend Natacha Charles, 21, from his job at a Downtown Brooklyn CVS when the gunman approached them outside his home sometime after 1 a.m., showed him the weapon, and said, “You know what this is.”
The man, who police and prosecutors have identified as 42-year-old Milton Simon, demanded to go through Gonzalez’s pockets and backpack in search of money, Gonzalez said.
When Simon realized Gonzalez wasn't carrying cash, he started to get frustrated, and demanded the ring on Gonzalez's pinky, he said.
Gonzalez said he planned to give that ring to Charles, so he refused.
Simon hit him in the face with the gun, but when Simon lowered his hands back down toward his body, Gonzalez said he seized what might have been his only chance to protect himself and his love.
“I grabbed his arm, I pushed him towards the tree and I just waved his hand in the air and he drops the gun,” Gonzalez said, adding that he grabbed the weapon and hit Simon a couple of times in the face with it to subdue him. “I didn’t want him to go to her next. He didn’t get the chance to go to her.”
The two kept struggling and the gun dropped once more, so Gonzalez kicked it over to Charles and told her to run to the Farmer in the Deli across the street and ask them to call the police, Gonzalez said.
“I was scared for my life,” Charles told DNAinfo. “My boyfriend fought back. I was thinking and hoping that the gun wasn’t shot and nobody got hurt.”
Gonzalez said he pinned Simon down and held him until police arrived, all the while as Simon tried to fight back by grabbing him in the groin.
“He’s trying to escape the best way that he can to the point where he grabs my private area as hard as he can, but obviously he couldn’t get out of it,” Gonzalez said.
Police from the 88th Precinct soon arrived at the scene and arrested Simon, who they say had just robbed another 29-year-old man at gunpoint an hour earlier at Myrtle and Clermont avenues.
For Gonzalez, who grew up on Adelphi Street and now lives there with his mother, two sisters, brother-in-law and 5-year-old niece, it was a shock to be robbed outside his own door.
“I never thought somebody would come down Adelphi with a gun and try to rob people,” he said. “I know everybody in Fort Greene, because we went to junior high together, we went to high school together.”
Gonzalez, who turns 23 on April 6, said it could've been a funeral instead of a birthday.
“My mother said, ‘I could’ve been celebrating your death instead of your birthday,’” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said he doesn’t consider himself to be brave, he just wanted to get himself and Charles out of the situation alive.
“Me personally, I’m not brave, I’m not courageous, I’m not nothing," Gonzalez said. "I’m just a person that wanted to live that day,”
Simon was arraigned on charges of robbery, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon, assault, harassment and other charges and was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail, $200,000 bond, according to court records.
Simon has another open case in Manhattan Criminal Court for being caught in Harlem on July 9, 2015 with a gun and marijuana, according to court records. He failed to show up for his August court date and had a warrant issued for his arrest, court records show.
He is due back in court on Friday, according to court records.
Simon’s Legal Aid attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.