Bystanders stop quarter bandits at Odessa laundromat

Bystanders stop quarter bandits at Odessa laundromat

ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Two people were arrested Sunday night and charged with robbery after bystanders at an Odessa laundromat successfully conducted a citizen's arrest, police said Tuesday.

A customer at Washateria, a self-serve business in the 1000 block of E University Blvd, saw one suspect opening change machines and confronted him, according to investigators.

"It's unknown how he had a key to each machine, but he was opening up each one," said Odessa Police spokesman Cpl. Steve LeSueur. "The customer happened to know the owner and knew [the suspect] wasn't supposed to have a key... He helped detain the suspect until police arrived on scene."

Donna Hobbs, a woman who lives down the street from Washateria, said she watched from her front porch as the incident spilled out into the parking lot.

"I was afraid it was going to be a shooting," she said. "More neighbors went to help... There was about four of them holding [the suspect] down."

Michael Ducote, 36, was later arrested by Odessa Police and charged with robbery, a second-degree felony.

He had a black bag with $120 in quarters from the laundromat, arrest affidavits revealed.

Investigators said his accused accomplice, Brooke Houston, 33, was also arrested for robbery.

Houston was waiting outside the laundromat in a "getaway vehicle," LeSueur said.

Citizens took her car keys to prevent her from fleeing and also detained her until police arrived, he added

"If they hadn't stopped [Houston and Ducote], more than likely they'd still be on the loose and we'd still be searching for those suspects today," LeSueur said Tuesday. "We do appreciate their help with this investigation."

However, he urged people to act cautiously when exercising their right to conduct citizen's arrests.

"We don't recommend it, but we don't discourage it," LeSueur said. "You have to be very certain that the person [you're attempting to detain] did commit a crime."

Texas state law allows any person to "arrest" or detain an offender, with or without a warrant, under certain circumstances.

The offense must be a felony or "offense against the public peace" and be committed in the detainee's presence or view, according to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

"It's very important to keep in mind that [offenders] may have weapons," LeSueur advised. "Always use your best judgment."

Washateria owners could not be reached for comment.

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