REDONDO BEACH — Grant Mogford was at a jewelry store shopping for engagement and wedding rings with his fiancee last year when a thief grabbed a diamond valued at nearly $30,000 from its case.
Mogford, 24, chased the man into the Galleria at South Bay and caught him from behind in a bear hug. The man pulled a gun from his belt and shot over his shoulder.
Mogford was hit in the back, near his right shoulder blade, but did not immediately realize it. When the thief waved the gun at Mogford and an approaching security guard, Mogford ran back to the jewelry store, warning everyone to get down.
That's when he was told he had been shot. The bullet went through his lung, liver and colon. The thief was caught five days later, eventually pleaded guilty to robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder, and is serving a 24-year sentence.
Mogford recovered about 11 weeks later, just in time for his May 24 wedding. And this week, he was named Redondo Beach "Citizen of the Year" by Police Chief Roger M. Moulton.
'Wouldn't Do It Again'
Although he feels honored to have received the award, Mogford said, "I wouldn't do it again. I wish it didn't happen; it definitely caused some pain."
He still has a 16-inch scar on his chest and a 3-inch scar on his side, and he and his wife, Ellyn, still have nightmares to remind them of the Feb. 15 shooting.
"Mentally, it's always going to be there," he said.
About three months after being shot, Mogford was shopping in the Galleria when a balloon popped. "I was halfway to the ground," he said. "It scared me. I thought it was happening all over again."
He said he has read about other attempts by citizens to stop a crime, "and the good guy doesn't make it and it'll bring a tear to the eye. I remember how lucky I was. . . .
"I wouldn't recommend that anybody try to stop someone with or without a gun. . . . There are other ways for somebody to get involved. If you're around a crime when it happens, it's better to use your eyes than your hands."
Redondo Beach Crime Prevention Supervisor Karen Brown agreed, saying it is better to be an alert witness with details of the crime than an injured victim. But although the Police Department does not recommend that citizens physically try to stop a crime, it is proud of those who do, she said.
Three Others Honored
Sandi Rosin, 48, and 16-year-olds Kyle Madison and Jason J. Haas also were given awards this week for outstanding citizenship.
Madison and Haas were entering a store in September when they were told the place had just been robbed by an armed man. They followed the suspect for several blocks, even though he pointed a gun at the pair.
The two boys shouted to passers-by that they needed help, eventually flagged down a police officer and pointed out the suspect.
Rosin heard a neighbor's screams and saw two women in their nightgowns beinging chased by a man outside their house. The 6-foot-8 Rosin tackled the man, searched him and held the burglary suspect until the police arrived.
Sixteen other citizens, police officers and organizations received awards for their efforts to prevent crime within the city. Jim McDonald was named "Principal of the Year" for his involvement with crime prevention programs at Birney Elementary School.