Boys Chase Down Mugger Outside Glendale Galleria : Crime: Young brothers are hailed for their bravery, but police caution against such dangerous acts of heroism.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was not something that their parents would encourage, nor was it the kind of thing that the police would recommend. Nevertheless, the decision by two young brothers to nab a fleeing mugger Saturday outside the Glendale Galleria has brought widespread praise--and a sigh of relief.

Mike Martinez, 15, and his brother David, 11, were getting out of their mother's car when they heard cries for help and saw a youth fleeing with a woman's purse.

Amid the screams for help, the brothers gave chase.

"He was running toward me," Mike said. "I could hear someone saying: 'Stop that guy! He stole my purse!' I made up my mind right then I was going to catch him. I didn't think about anything, I just ran after him and tackled him to the ground."

Mike Martinez brought the boy across the street from the Galleria. He and David held him there while he struggled to break free until the Glendale police arrived to arrest the suspect. Police said the 16-year-old had snatched the woman's purse in the shopping center parking lot, punching her several times until she relinquished it.

After the arrest, the boys were praised as heroes.

The mugging victim, who was not identified by police, embraced the boys and their mother, Elvia Martinez, and gave each boy $20. During their shopping trip customers congratulated the boys for their act of bravery.

"Many strangers came up to shake hands with my sons and congratulate them," Martinez said. "When we were leaving the store and I was paying for their shoes, another man came up and told the clerk not to take my money. He said he wanted to pay for their school things because they are good boys and heroes."

Rees Lloyd, general counsel of the Robin Hood Foundation in Glendale, a legal aid group, said his organization donated $500 to the family to help with the boys' education.

"It is about time we recognize and devote our resources to those who deserve it--young heroes like Mike and David Martinez," Lloyd said.

Glendale police spoke highly of the boys' actions, but cautioned others not to take matters into their own hands.

"We don't want people going out there playing police officer because sometimes people carry guns," Lt. Don Meredith said.

It is not the kind of thing that the boys' father, Conrad Martinez, a telephone company worker, would recommend either. But he said he understands their actions.

"I think it is a very outstanding thing they did and I feel very proud of them," he said. "They did what they felt given the situation. I'm very grateful they came out of it unharmed."

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