Convicted felon helps foil attempted robbery in West Bottoms

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Heroes come in many different forms.

For one family-run store in the West Bottoms, a hero arrived in the form of an ex-con, who helped foil an attempted robbery.

Details are just coming out about a heroic act that happened in mid-November, during which, a business was allegedly being robbed, and a man with a criminal record of his own saved the day.

For many people in the West Bottoms, life revolves around the railroads.

Trains are number one around Jennifer Snyder's store as well. She and her family have operated businesses in a building on Union Ave. for 20 years. She says they'd never had trouble with criminals, until a man walked into the store on November 14th, and within minutes, vanished into one of the managerial offices to hide.

"I said, 'Hey, what are you doing in there?,' Snyder said.  "I said, 'Hey, what's going on?' I wasn't aware anyone was over there. I immediately went to look."

Surveillance video from November 14th shows the man head out the door, and Snyder said he had her laptop computer under his jacket. Snyder said he'd taken it from the office where he'd hidden. She said she and her store manager tried to chase the accused thief, but he was too fast.

"We saw a vehicle coming through the intersection, and I shouted, 'Hey - he has my laptop!" Snyder recalled.

Quentin Van Zant heard Snyder's cries for help. Van Zant was sitting in his truck just outside the store.

"I said 'Dude, you're not gettin' away," Van Zant said.

Snyder says Van Zant helped chase the accused robber, corralling him in a fenced-in parking lot, and detaining him until police arrived to arrest him.

Perhaps an unusual spot for a convicted felon, Van Zant once did two-and-a-half years in prison for killing a man in a drunk driving accident in 2000.

"I felt sorry for that lady," Van Zant said. "I knew there was no way that they could catch that guy. I just wanted to do the right thing."

Kansas City police later identified the accused thief as 49-year-old Cedric Gibson from KCK, who has done prison time in the past for stealing.

Snyder got her computer back, and she says she owes Van Zant a debt of gratitude.

We attempted to contact Gibson at the address listed on police records, but he isn't living at that home in KCK. Court documents show he'll appear in court on February 11th.

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