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City worker wrestles gun from home robbers, shoots one

Perry Pearce is given hug by neighbor BarbarWhite his home's front porch 5700 block S. AdThursday Oct. 13 2011 Chicago.

Perry Pearce is given a hug by neighbor Barbara White at his home's front porch on the 5700 block of S. Ada Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, in Chicago. Earlier in the morning, Pearce was forced into his house by two armed gunmen, from whom he wrestled away a gun and subsequently shot one of the robbers. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 16, 2011 3:33PM

With its high wrought-iron fence, multiple security cameras, jailhouse-style mirrors and a fierce rottweiler in the backyard, Perry Pearce’s home is easily the best fortified building in the 5700 block of South Ada.

But the armed robbers who targeted the Englewood home Thursday morning didn’t count on the biggest threat of all — Pearce himself.

Pearce, 53, a truck driver for the Chicago Department of Water Management, was hailed as a hero by his neighbors Thursday after he told how he flipped the script on two gunmen who he says jumped him as he prepared to drive to work about 6:30 a.m.

Pearce told police and friends that he managed to snatch away the gun of one of the attackers, then used it to shoot one of them in the abdomen.

Visibly shaken after being questioned by detectives, he emerged on his stoop later Thursday morning to applause and cries of “hero” from his neighbors.

“Thank God for life,” he told them.

Pearce said he was going to his truck in his yard when the men jumped him.

“They cut a hole in the fence and stuck me up,” he said. “One had a .38 and the other had a 9mm.

“They held me on the ground, outside for 20 minutes with a gun in my face and knocked me in the face with the gun,” he added, pointing to a bruise and cut on the top of his head.

Pearce said he was tied up by the robbers, but as he was recounting the story, a detective pulled him back into the house. He told detectives the robbers were looking for his safe when he managed to grab one of their guns, police said.

Later Thursday, Pearce told reporters one of the gunmen laid his gun down during the robbery “and I was able to snatch it up. I did what I had to do because I promise you, he was going to kill me and my family.”

Both robbers ran from the rear of the home but the man Pearce shot collapsed a couple of blocks away and was taken to a hospital, police said. He was in police custody later Thursday; the second gunman remained at large. Police were reviewing security video footage from Pearce’s home.

A witness who asked not to be named said she heard four shots then saw the robbers get away “through a little escape hole in the fence I guess they had made the night before.” As they came running toward her, she took off in her car in such a hurry she damaged her driver’s side mirror. “I’m fitting to get out of here,” she said. “I’ve had enough.”

Pearce has worked for the city for 15 years. He grew up in the Bahamas and flies a Bahamian flag below the U.S. flag in front of his home.

His friend, Pearl Rivers, said he had lived on the block for 20 years and had been unsuccessfully targeted by burglars earlier this year. “It had to have been someone who’d been watching him, who knew his routine,” she said.

“He’s just the sweetest man on the block,” said block president Renee Collins.

“He has a party in his yard every year for his birthday and it’s beautiful back there — you might be in Englewood but it feels like you’re in the islands.”

She said that if Pearce was tied up, “You’d better believe he did the right thing, this is Englewood and they play for keeps over here.”

Contributing: Stefano Esposito

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