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04/14/2011

ICE immigration enforcement agent thwarts convenience store robbery

Successful law enforcement officers run on instinct and quick thinking. These traits served Robert Barnes, an immigration enforcement agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), well the evening of March 24. Little did he know that his visit to a San Diego 7-Eleven would result in him taking down a knife-wielding thief.

It was almost 6 p.m., and he was off-duty at the time. Barnes unsuspectingly went to the counter to pay for his purchase. That's when he noticed a man walk behind the cashier's counter. The man pulled out what appeared to be a kitchen knife and tried to open the cash register. However, when he couldn't open it, he raised the knife at the female store clerk.

That's when Barnes stepped in. His law enforcement instincts seemed second nature, and he rushed behind the counter to restrain the robber. As the robber turned toward him, Barnes struck him with his fist.

The punch landed below the robber's left ear. He subsequently dropped the knife as he fell to the ground. Barnes and another customer then physically restrained the man and took control of the weapon. In the midst of it all, Barnes identified himself as a law enforcement agent and instructed the clerk to dial 9-1-1. Sheriff's deputies arrived less than two minutes after the call was made.

The 22-year-old robber is a U.S. citizen. He has been charged with armed robbery and is in local law enforcement custody.

Barnes began his law enforcement career with the Immigration and Naturalization Service back in 1999. Since then, he has worked with ICE's Criminal Alien and Fugitive Operations Programs. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1991 to 1996, during which he deployed to Somalia to provide vehicle convoy security.