‘The neighborly thing to do’: Bounty hunter holds burglary suspect at gunpoint

Originally published in the Charlotte Sun Wednesday, May 8, 2013

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SUN PHOTO BY MERAB-MICHAL FAVORITE
Morris Emory stands in front of the home on Harbor Boulevard in Port Charlotte where he prevented a burglary from occurring by holding the suspect at gunpoint until deputies could arrive early Friday morning.

PORT CHARLOTTE — Some residents get welcomed to a new neighborhood with cookies or cake. Sometimes, it’s a simpler gesture, like a wave hello or a knock on the door and a friendly greeting.

The first time Juan and Maria Martinez met their neighbor across the street, it was at 3:30 a .m. Friday, and he was holding a man at gunpoint in the middle of their driveway.

‘Usually when you welcome someone new to the neighborhood, you usually bring a pie or something,’ Maria said. ‘This guy brought a gun and stopped our car from being burglarized! It’s not the norm, but I’ll take it.’

The couple had lived at their home on Harbor Boulevard for only about two months before becoming a target of an alleged burglary. Alvin Anthony Jeanty, 37, of the 2100 block of Bragg Street, Port Charlotte, reportedly was burglarizing their van when he was caught by their neighbor, Morris Emory.

Emory, 45, lives across the street and is a self-professed night owl. As a professional bounty hunter, Emory tends to keep strange hours, and said he often paces around his home in the middle of the night. Sometimes he goes outside to smoke a cigarette, even though he’s trying to quit.

Emory was smoking in his garage around 3:15 a .m. Friday morning, he said, when he saw Jeanty trying vehicle doors to see if they were unlocked. When Jeanty got to the Martinez home, he was able to gain access to their van, Emory told authorities.

Emory put out his cigarette and pulled his Glock .40 handgun from its holster. He told his roommate to call 911 and headed across the street.

When Emory got to his neighbor’s driveway, he reportedly saw Jeanty’s leg sticking out of the van and a light moving around inside.

Emory ordered him to ‘get out of the car and get on the ground,’ pointing the gun at Jeanty and holding him there until deputies arrived, he said.

In his mind, it was the neighborly thing to do .

‘I just thought, I’d want them to do the same for me,’ Emory said. ‘Nine times out of 10, by the time CCSO gets to the scene, the thief is gone, then you have to go through a manhunt and all that.’

When Juan walked outside and saw Emory pointing the Glock at Jeanty, it was the first time the neighbors had ever met.

‘It was wild,’ Juan said. ‘It really took me by surprise, but it also gave me a new outlook on things . I see it as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.’

Deputies soon arrived and told Emory to put the gun back in his holster.

As a bail bondsman, Emory said he has a ‘working relationship’ with the Sheriff’s Office. He doesn’t recommend that citizens without professional training hold suspects at gunpoint.

Jeanty was arrested on charges of burglary, and loitering and prowling, and was taken to the Charlotte County Jail. He later bonded out. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The Martinezes, both ordained ministers, said they want to talk to Jeanty and help him ‘get on the right track.’

‘We are all part of the same community,’ Juan said. ‘We are all basically neighbors — we should all be helping each other.’

As for Emory, Juan has a more traditional way of repaying his selfless deed.

‘I can’t wait to cook up a nice dinner and take him over a plate and say thank you,’ Juan said. ‘It looks like my wife is seasoning up something real good right now.’

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