Lincoln Boulevard store owner grapples with an armed robber and wins

By Joe Piasecki

Security camera footage shows Simon Mellor subduing the gunman

Security camera footage shows Simon Mellor subduing the gunman

Simon Mellor has a tomato in his right hand and is about to head home to eat it when a young man in a black hooded sweatshirt walks through the door of Mellor’s new market on Lincoln Boulevard and starts waving a gun around.

The robber points the pistol at the clerk behind the register and then at Mellor, who responds with a seemingly compliant wave of his tomato-holding hand and a few sedately uttered words. The crook turns his attention back to the register.

Seconds later, Mellor is wrestling the gunman from behind — smashing him headfirst into the counter, a metal snack rack and a wall, all of it captured on high-definition video by a security camera.

“I can’t remember, but I probably said ‘Whatever you want to do.’ And so he turned all of his attention to the cash register — all of it, with a hoodie, with no peripheral vision. And if someone’s pointing a gun at one of my friends or one of my employees and I think maybe I can help the situation, I will. So I took him from behind,” Mellor says of the scuffle, which happened just before 8 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21.

The fight spilled out the door, where the robber eventually slipped away after pulling a second handgun. He remains at large.

“I should have done a lot of things different: I should’ve tripped him, I should have put him on the floor, I should’ve whipped his head back and gave him a concussion. There’s a lot of things, but basically I had to act,” says Mellor, who does not have formal self-defense training. “There’s 0% chance that I would have been comfortable going home knowing that I just held a tomato in my hand while someone’s pointing a gun at me and one of my employees — that I just did zero.”

Mellor opened his second Simon’s Market at 1709 Venice Blvd. about three months ago, a more sophisticated reboot of the former Joe’s Liquor. The first Simon’s Market launched three years ago at 511 Rose Ave., right next door to Flake — a fun breakfast hotspot for locals that Mellor created nine years ago. He’s lived in Venice for more than 20 years, which he figures is about as long as the gunman has been alive.

This wasn’t Mellor’s first brawl, but it was the first time he’s wrestled somebody for control of a gun.

“I don’t want to make it seem like I know what I’m doing. I’m not a policeman,” he says. “I’m just not one to run from conflict. I would do the same thing if I saw somebody else in trouble. I think neighbors should do more of that. In Venice, we don’t know our neighbors anymore. We’re too busy. … People are shutting themselves off a little too much.

“That’s why I shared the footage. I just think people should pay a little more attention.”