72-year-old woman scares off gunman with fire extinguisher

MT. AIRY, OH (FOX19) - A 72-year-old woman scared off an armed robber with a fire extinguisher in a Mt. Airy apartment complex on Friday.

Police say that the attempted robbery happened around 9:30 a.m. Friday in the 2700 block of Hillvista Lane.

Cheryl Arnold has been the apartment manager at the complex for nearly two years. She was sitting in her office when the gunman entered demanding money.

"This young person came in and he had a mask on his face that covered his nose and his mouth," explains Arnold. "He came over to the side of the desk, said I'm not kidding, and held a gun to my head."

Arnold says she explained to the suspect that she did not have any cash on hand. She says they do not keep much cash in the building and what they have is kept in a safe of which she does not have a key for.

"Three times he hit me in the head with the gun and said he wanted the money," says Arnold.

Arnold says that the suspect came around the desk and checked her drawers. That's when she made her move.

"He pulled the drawer open and there wasn't anything in it," explains Arnold. "He walked around to the front of the desk and I grabbed the fire extinguisher and blasted him with it. I just kept shooting at him. The whole room was covered with the fire extinguisher dust and he ran out the door."

Why did Arnold choose to use a fire extinguisher?

"I couldn't reach the drawer to get the mace, but I could reach the fire extinguisher on the floor next to me when he moved to go to the front of the desk, and that's when I got him," explains Arnold. "You just pull the trigger and that's it. I got him good."

Arnold says her fire extinguisher is always handy. She keeps it at the side of her desk as a precaution.

"The extinguisher company was out here one day replacing fire extinguishers. I told him that I don't carry a gun," explains Arnold. "He says I've got something you can use that will be just as good. He told me to keep it at the side of my desk and if I ever need it, just blast them with it."

Officers say that nothing was taken during the incident.

Police have described the suspect as a heavyset man wearing a red bandanna and dark clothing. Police are currently searching the area for the suspect.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040.

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