Man Saved When Beeper Deflects Bullet


A belt-clip beeper deflected a bullet and may have saved the life of a man who became locked in a deadly struggle with a masked gunman who was attempting to rob the man's girlfriend in Long Beach, police said Saturday.

The gunman was shot and killed during the struggle, police said. The couple were not seriously injured, police said.

The attacker was identified as Vernon Justice, 23, of Inglewood, Lt. Philip King said. Justice was pronounced dead at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.

Police declined to identify the two victims, saying that a second suspect may have been involved.

King said the 19-year-old woman was walking to a car in the underground garage of an apartment building in the 200 block of Nevada Street around 9 p.m. Friday when she was grabbed from behind by a man wearing a ski mask and rubber gloves. King said the man put a gun to her head.

Seconds later, as the woman's 25-year-old boyfriend came into the garage, the gunman released the woman and charged at the boyfriend, firing a shot as he approached, police said.

The bullet was deflected by the man's beeper, which was attached to the front of his belt.

Other shots were fired as the two struggled for the weapon, and the boyfriend managed to point the gun back at his attacker as another shot went off, striking the gunman in the chest, King said.

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