Courts & Crime

Thief on skates no match for judge, taco vendor, Iraq veteran

Heard the one about the judge, the taco vendor, the pistol-packing Iraq war vet and the thief on roller blades?

It apparently happened Wednesday when Al Diaz of The Miami Herald was preparing to photograph the Taqueria Mexicana Orale taco truck at Northwest 27th Avenue and 17th Street for a feature story. He briefly placed his camera on a chair to set up some lighting equipment.

Seizing the moment, a man on wheels snatched the camera and whooshed down 16th. Someone munching a taco yelled, "That guy just grabbed your camera!"

Taco stand owner Moises Gonzales, incensed at the interruption, tore out on foot after the roller-blader. A food inspector joined him.That's when Deborah White-Labora happened along. A judge in Miami-Dade's drug court, White-Labora was driving a white Scion minivan with her two children, 17-year-old Christopher and 20-year-old Amanda, having just visited the bank to pick up some travelers checks en route to Miami International for a flight to Peru.

Gonzales flagged down the van, barked out "follow that man!" or words to that effect, and the pursuit continued.

The minivan overtook a roller-blader at 3071 NW 18th Ter. Christopher bounded out of the car and "pounced like a cobra" on the skater, said Amanda. Gonzales, the taco maker, joined the fray.

Ian Vaquero, in whose front yard the chase ended, didn't know what to make of the wrestling match. So the Iraq war vet sorted things out the Miami way, drawing his 9mm Smith & Wesson and telling everyone to freeze.

"Thank God for the Second Amendment and armed civilians," Christopher said.

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