FOLLOWUP: Chris Saunders had Gun Pointed at his Head in Burien Robbery

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Chris Saunders shows us where he crouched down to hide and call 9-1-1 Tuesday night.

Story & Photos by Scott Schaefer

As they were driving north on First Avenue South Tuesday night, Chris Saunders’ fiancé knew something was wrong when she saw three suspicious men wearing all black, holding duffel bags and running towards the rear of the Pawn X-Change.

But instead of continuing driving, Saunders, 27, made a quick decision and pulled a u-turn into the building’s parking lot. He knew some of the employees there, and his instinct was to try and warn them that something suspicious might be going on.

He had recalled another recent robbery at the Pawn Pros in White Center, and he thought just maybe he could help someone.

Little did he know that seconds later he’d come face-to-face with the business end of a gun held by a masked man inside the pawn shop.

Saunders crept up and looked through the windows of the employee door, where he came face-to-face with a gun.

“I got out of the car and went to the door of the shop, thinking I had a chance to warn them about these guys in the back,” Saunders told The B-Town Blog Wednesday afternoon. “Soon as I set foot in the door though, the lights went out. I knew something was seriously wrong then, so I crouched down and looked around. I saw a masked gunman behind the employee door to the back, and I thought about trying to ram him with the two-way door. When I walked in I thought the bad guys were still in the back…”

By this point Saunders had crept up to that employee door to try and peek in the small plexiglass window. As he did, the gunman noticed him and pointed his pistol directly at his face, just inches away through the thin plexiglass.

“All I could think about at that moment was ‘man, being shot like this is really going to hurt,'” he said.

Saunders turned on his heels and ran out the door, all the while yelling at his fiancé to quickly drive off to safety – along with their two-year old child – who was in the back seat.

“I ran out the door as fast as I could, told my girlfriend to get out of there, then crouched down on the sidewalk right here and called 9-1-1,” Saunders said as he showed us where he safely hid – a spot below a small rockery and raised concrete parking lot in front of the building on First Ave South that for many years housed Dick’s Cameras.

The gunman did give chase too – he just never shot.

“He had a perfect opportunity to shoot me, but he didn’t,” he said. “I feel lucky and thankful – but stupid – for going in there.”

Saunders then ran north on the sidewalk towards an arriving police officer, who was holding an assault rifle. As Saunders ran past the cop to safety, he heard “around a dozen” gunshots coming from the direction of shop, then three more outside – the policeman was firing back at one of the suspects who was running away.

He didn’t hit him, but the officer didn’t get hit either.

It was business as usual at the Pawn X-Change Wednesday afternoon. The only evidence that anything happened was a boarded up window to the left of the front door.

“Nothing like this has ever happened to me before,” Saunders said, obviously still shaken by the incident. “I live on Ambaum Boulevard, and I think there’s an increase in crime in Burien. I want to get out of here.”

Saunders has lived in Burien since the third grade. His fiancé has been here her whole life.

“If we were financially able to, we’d move today,” he said.

“I had so much adrenaline in me at that point,” he said. But, Saunders adds, “I’d probably do it again.”

“I’m a firm believer in the saying ‘what goes around comes around,'” he said, “and if I was an employee inside that shop and this was happening to me, I’d want one of my friends to stop and try to help me.”

Luckily, there were no injuries during this dramatic incident, which closed down a major part of the area and resulted in “at least 40 cops” responding from several jurisdictions, along with the King County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team.

Two of the robbery suspects were apprehended Tuesday night, and the third was arrested Wednesday (read our original report here).

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9 Responses to “FOLLOWUP: Chris Saunders had Gun Pointed at his Head in Burien Robbery”
  1. John says:

    Way to go Chris. Good job. Yea may have been a bit gutsy or stupid as you say but you help people where you have to. Yes crime is up in Burien and that’s unfortunate as i love living here and don’t want to leave. It would sure be nice to figure out a way to convince these crooks all of them to go somewhere else. Glad you are ok man.

  2. Maria says:

    Very brave for what he did and if I was his friend I’d be very greatful BUT to see robbers go in and decide you wanna step in with a 2 year old and your wife in the car in plain freakin ignorant! Not knowing if they had guns what if they shot at him and a stray bullet accidently hit his wife or child. Stupid for putting them in that position.

  3. Seattlemom says:

    I’m so glad this man was not injured, but most importantly his 2 year old child wasnt.
    He should have called the police instead of going into such a dangerous situation, or atleast drop off his wife and child at McDonalds.
    Again, glad he is ok but I certainly hope there was some lessons on safety taught here.

  4. Christine says:

    Crime is way up since we moved here four years ago. The stats on the crime website show it is up about 50%. I was excited about Burien…it seemed like a cool up and coming city. Now I wish we had stayed in Issaquah or we could move our home a tad south into Normandy Park. The Normandy Park Police Force has managed to keep their crime rate very low. They patrol all the time. I rarely see police in Burien except when they are responding to a call. The city even has an ordinance against responding to home alarms too. So it just feels there is no focus on prevention here like there is in Normandy Park.

    • Gina V says:

      Very brave of this man indeed! I’m glad that nothing happen to his family. I am not sure that I would have been so brave as to put myself and/or my family at risk. Burien sure has increased in crime and it seems like its only getting to get worse. It seems that there are less officers in that area and less resources for that community.

  5. Loren says:

    Going unarmed into an armed confrontation?
    That is not brave, that is potential suicide. That is why we have phones to call the police. Even Burien police will respond to reports of armed people robbing a pawn shop.
    As far as crime in Burien, it is off the charts. And don’t forget we have a very large underground community here that is festering with growing gang activity,
    The Burien City Council fiddles while Burien burns. Kind of like Nero.

  6. william forest says:

    Yes Crime is up in Burien.. We need MORE Police Officers patrolling .. However instead of adding more police to the force to control the increasing crime situation, the dysfunctional city council and out of control city manager are pushing the annexation of white center thru at any costs!
    Annexation of this very high crime area will effectively LOWER the number of police available to patrol and respond in Burien within its current boundaries.

    If Seattle annexed white center they were planning on adding 44 police officers to the area. Burien can only afford to add 15 to patrol and respond to crime in white center/area Y. The number Burien can afford to add is woefully inadequate to police the annexation area.
    Both Burien AND White Center would be MUCH BETTER OFF from a fighting crime standpoint by having Seattle annex area Y. However this no brainer falls on deaf ears and the annexation of White Center by Burien proceeds without regard for the consequences or what it will mean to the current residents of Burien..

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