Judy Memmel wasn’t thinking about her five grandchildren or her own life when she shoved an armed robber out of the Houston Jewelry store earlier this week.
She was too consumed with rage.
Houston police are still searching for two men who tried to attack Judy and two coworkers Tuesday morning at the west Houston jewelry stop off of Westheimer in the Galleria. Memmel said they were both wearing suits but wore beanies and sunglasses to conceal their identities.
She and her boss, Rex Solomon, believe the men meant to take the three workers hostage and use the suits to masquerade as employees if anyone passed by the store during the robbery.
But that was before they encountered Memmel, who is more known for her love of ballroom dancing than fighting off armed robbers.
Memmel said she, colleague Kathye Parker and a male coworker were going through their typical morning opening routine before they saw the men. One person turned off the silent alarm, another slipped inside and the third locked the door behind them all. On Tuesday at about 8:45 a.m., it was Memmel’s turn to be last.
Before she could reach down to lock the door, a man darted towards the entrance. He pried the door open and tried to make his way inside.
“I said we’re closed, but he tried to get in,” Memmel said. “I gave him a hand shove with two hands and said ‘No, you’re not coming in.’ Then I saw the gun and his holster.”
The man pried the gun from his waist and fired three shots into the store, shattering a display case. Although the weapon looked like a handgun, police said the man fired pellets rather than bullets.
Another robber driving the armed man got out of car, saw the shove, but quickly ran back to the driver side. As the two sped off, Memmel turned around, picked up her bags from the door, shrugged at her colleagues and walked out of view of one of the shop’s security cameras.
When store owner Solomon saw the survellaince video, he was stunned.
“She pushes him on the shoulders like a linebacker would do and pushes him out,” he said, describing the video. “I mean, she’s grandma and a ballroom dancer, but she doesn’t take s — t. She doesn’t do what she’s told no matter what, and she’s one of our best sales people.”
Memmel said no clear thoughts popped through her head when she attacked the robber, just pure rage. Her two daughters, on the other hand, had plenty to say.
“My daughter said ‘you’re nuts,'” Memmel said. “I sent some of the police officers the video, they said ‘Wow, you know that’s not something you’re supposed to do.’ I said yeah, I guess.”
Memmel said she would do it again, but stressed that every situation is different. She recalled a time more than 20 years ago when armed robbers took her and 9 customers hostage at another jewelry store. That time she complied with their demands to stick her hands up in the air.
She didn’t do the same a few years ago when she found two men in her Sharpstown living room carrying away her silver, fur coats and jewelry inside her brand-new bed sheets.
Memmel yelled at the masked men for taking her stuff, which they dropped. When one grabbed her purse, causing the chain to break, she chased after them and whacked one of them on the head twice with the piece of metal.
“With that they grabbed my car keys, so I ran after them and said ‘give me my keys.’ He said he didn’t want me to follow them, and I said I wouldn’t, so they threw them in a bush,” Houston’s most badass grandmother said. “Two cops told me I was nuts, but they didn’t get my stuff.”
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