It’s easy to switch on autopilot when we go through the motions, doing things in our day-to-day lives that we’ve done a hundred times before. We continue down familiar paths until something shakes us out of our routine.
For one Arizona woman, that routine-shattering moment came when she and her two daughters were waiting in their car for a school bus on Nov. 1. They were at Southern Avenue and Gilbert Road.
One moment they were waiting there, the next moment a man was yelling and opening up mom Brittany Baggs’ door and wrenching her out of the car, apparently trying to steal her vehicle.
“I’m trying to like grab onto anything I can and it just all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to even think,” Baggs told KTVK.
The mom of two wasn’t about to let this man take her car with her children still in it, so she started screaming and fighting back.
“There’s no way he was gonna get away with my kids or my car,” she said. “No way.”
Putting her hand in the door frame, she managed to keep him from closing the door and getting away — though her hand took quite a beating as the man slammed the door on it multiple times.
At one point, the man broke off the seat armrest and started hitting her head and arm with it, not breaking her arm but giving her bruises that will take at least a month to heal, according to what doctors told her.
Thankfully, Baggs’ screams alerted people nearby, and three men ran over to help. One of them, Milfred Hooper, saw most of the interaction.
“He yanked the thing from the car, broke the thing off the door, and was hitting her with it,” Hooper told KTVK.
“I did what I had to do,” the father of two added in another interview with KTVK. “If I wasn’t there — or other people weren’t there — it could have been something worse.”
“This guy is strong, on drugs or something, so that’s why I grabbed him and slammed him to the floor and told him, ‘Don’t move and don’t even fight.'”
“My grandfather was just telling them, yelling at them like ‘come on! Help me restrain this man’,” Cano told KSAZ-TV. “Knowing him, it’s something he would do since his Marine instincts are still in him.”
The three men were able to get the man, 59-year-old John Merrell, onto the ground and hold him there until authorities arrived.
“Police were probably there in two, three minutes, but it felt like an eternity,” the mother said.
Once Merrell was taken away by police, Baggs and one of her knights in shining armor shared a moment, hugging and crying.
“He gave me a hug and was crying,” Baggs said. “And if not for those three guys, I don’t know what would have happened.”
Baggs also commented on the KSAZ-TV Facebook post, reaching out to the grandfather, Cano, who also stepped in to help save her and her children.
“Mr. Cano, Should this ever get back you, please get contact me,” she wrote. “I can’t not express my gratitude, appreciation and admiration for what you did for my children! They are my entire world, it’s me and them against the evil of this life.”
“You gave them a first hand look at what I’m trying to instill in them. Help others when you can — be humble and kind. You sir, are living proof of that! Please allow me to thank you!!!!”
The attacker was arrested and charged with robbery and aggravated assault.
“People see things happen like that and don’t jump in,” Hooper told KTVK. “They walk away or drive away and just leave.”
“I know this world is pretty crazy right now, but we’ve got to help each other.”
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