Women honored for stopping armed robbery suspect

(L to R) Captain Bob Jonsen, Sheena Matthews, Tonya Heywood, Mayor R. Rex Parris. Heywood followed an armed robbery suspect in June and Matthews dispatched units to the location leading to the successful capture of an armed gang member. (Photo by Kyoshi Becker)

LANCASTER – Two women were recognized by the city of Lancaster and the Sheriff’s Department Tuesday for helping to catch an armed robbery suspect.

Sheena Matthews and Tonya Heywood worked together to help deputies capture armed gang member Deon Fite just moments after Fite allegedly robbed an east Lancaster gas station this past June, authorities said.

Both women are technicians at the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, said Sheriff’s Captain Bob Jonsen.

“Lancaster takes in between 400 to 500 phones calls per day,” Jonsen said. “These two individuals are right there… dispatching units effectively.”

On the afternoon of June 20, Heywood got off work and headed to the Valero near 5th Street East and Avenue K to get gas, Johnson said.

“As she walked in to pay, somebody followed her in and an armed robbery was committed,” Jonsen said.

Deon Fite was captured, thanks to both women.

When the thief left the store, Heywood followed him while calling the Lancaster Station to report what she just saw.

“When you’re following an armed gang member in close proximity trying to call it in without being seen it’s a tough job, but she did a phenomenal phenomenal job,” Jonsen said.

Matthews took the call at the station, and both women successfully led deputies to Fite, Jonsen said.

“Together they did a tremendous job dispatching units to where the suspect was going, containment was set up, and at the end, an armed gang member who was on parole from Kern County was taken into custody,” Jonsen said, adding that the stolen money was also recovered.

For their brave and heroic efforts, both women were presented with commendation certificates from the Sheriff’s Department at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“You definitely made our department look good that day as you do every day,” Jonsen said to the two women.

(Read more about the armed robbery here)

  20 comments for “Women honored for stopping armed robbery suspect

  1. DeShawn
    October 13, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Honoring public employees in Lancaster is necessary so that at least some of them perform their jobs at all. Take his honor the mayor, for instance. The only time he bothers to show up is when he either gets a chance to honor someone or when someone gets a chance to honor “his” town, and I do not use the rerm loosely.

  2. October 11, 2012 at 10:03 am

    In this instance everything turned out just fine.

    If she was my wife, daughter or little sister I would tell her to stay in the store, lock the door and make that call from inside, then wait for law enforcement.

    When the robbery suspect entered the store their lives were at risk. When he left the store that risk left with him.

    When she left the store her life was at risk and anyone else who might have caught a stray bullet from the robbery suspect or one of his buddies waiting for him outside.

    Giving her position, I”m sure she felt that she has to do something. What she needed to do was “think first” and “react second”.

    I congratulate her not for catching the robbery suspect but for making it home safe to her family, which is the only thing that I care about.

    • Jim
      October 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      Shunnon – why live the life of a victim? Did your parents not teach you to stand up for what’s right? When did it become PC to play the role of victim? This is your community, sometimes you have to be willing to stand up, and fight, for what is right.

      • October 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm

        You missed the point. We are not talking about the same thing.

    • THAT GUY
      October 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm

      I’m sorry but since when did we start honoring people for do there jobs correctly? Okay I understand completely the one lady that was inside when the robbery took place and then followed the suspect until deputies arrived… Takes a brave citizen to maybe do that… But are we seriously gonna honor someone for doing there job effectively? My lord REX, are you guys for real? She effectively dispatched officers to the location. Well yippie! She did her job correctly finally and deserves a certificate. She assists the sheriff in taking on average 500 calls per day as do others with her job title. So does everyone get one everyday they dispatch the call and send officers to the correct location? Hell no they don’t… Again, its her job! Why would she get anything other then maybe a high five from her co-workers. But to waste the paper on the certificate she received and the space on this website for even spending the time to cover this crap is unreal. I think I better go work for the sheriffs department if they consider someone worthy of honoring for answering a phone correctly… That just goes to show how our hard earned tax payers money is being spent. Leave it to R. Rex Clueless to lead the way. Between this story and the one about the sheriff setting up a sting to bust 25 of the valleys most hardened criminals over off of Ave I and 10th west for J- Walking, makes me wanna vomit. You mean to tell me someone in the department that we rely on to keep this community safe?someone actually brainstormed this one up and many others in the department agreed that it was a great idea? And that they should pull officers off the streets or add more employees to that days payroll, to set up this genius plan,? Like we don’t have rapists, murders, drug users, etc that maybe we should be more concerned about then someone crossing a street. Get real people. Sounds like we need to find some people with a little bit more intelligence and a lot more common sense. Get these morons out of office before we run out of anymore commendation awards for doing what they were paid to do.

      • Gladys
        October 12, 2012 at 10:43 pm

        Good comments.

      • Sammy
        October 13, 2012 at 12:42 am

        The LASD needs all the good press they can get after the report on MCJ. Baca and Tall man tanaka aren’t done getting their asses wupped.

  3. New2AV
    October 11, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Congrats to these two upstanding citizens for stopping this peice of trash. Look at those tats. Looks like a real winner.

  4. QHR
    October 11, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Thanks for your bravery, ladies. That’s one less criminal on the street! Many more to catch!

  5. Gladys
    October 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    They work together so of course Matthews dispatched cars right away. If I had called, they would have asked a million questions and told me to stop following the suspect. If I called later to find out what the outcome was, I would have been told either they couldn’t find the guy or there was some emergency so they hadn’t gotten to it yet!
    Don’t get me wrong, I am glad they caught this guy. They need to understand there are citizens that see things too and handle their calls the same way.

    • J. Ripper
      October 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Amen sister.

    • CaptainObvious
      October 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      Gladys, Gladys, Gladys….Where do I start with you? First, if ANY citizen calls in an armed robbery, the cops are going to come running to that. It is an emergency. I’m sure the girl following the robber was “asked a million questions” by the one at the station. I’m sure she answered those questions without complaining, and the outcome was great. The cops will usually only tell you to stop following if you are driving recklessly, you’re too close, etc. Of course they have to tell you that, but in reality, many times they are grateful for your help. There’s no problem being a good witness at a distance. Maybe your previous ghetto drama calls didn’t get the attention you thought they deserved?

      • Gladys
        October 11, 2012 at 10:49 pm

        Gee Captain, thanks for clearing that up. I agree with everything you said untill you made that unneccessary “ghetto drama” remark. Why do you have to be so rude? Nevermind, I don’t want to know. I’m sure it’s something to do with your childhood or pressure at work. Peace, Out.

  6. big chula
    October 10, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Let’s see how many racist come out for this clip…..

  7. Letlow
    October 10, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    When I say that not everyone in the black community are criminals and thugs, these are the people I am speaking about.

    Hardworking, decent black citizens committed to stopping crime in the community. Consider it a slap in the face to these two ladies whenever you say that the “black community” is [insert negative attribute here].

    CONGRATS LADIES!!! Keep up the good work! This site is really making my day today!!

    • Jim
      October 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      Would your response have been different if they were 2 white women?

      • Letlow
        October 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm

        All day everyday I will defend decent hardworking citizens of any race. The reason I point this out specifically is because many commenters on this site have spoken negatively about “the black community” which lumps all of us in one category, including these two fine ladies.

        I have yet to read a comment on this site talking bad about “white women.” So yes, my response would have been different if they were two white women. I would have just congratulated them and left it at that.

        If you can’t see the difference, then I can’t help you.

        But just so you know, if someone was disparaging ALL “white women” in a negatively light, I would find that to be a slap in the face to the decent, hardworking white women everywhere.

        Get it?

    • J. Ripper
      October 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      There are black deputies in the AV, too. These women *work* for the Sheriff dept. This is not to say there are not upstanding black citizens who would report a crime either, but using these women as ammunition against all the racist stereotyping of the “black community” being criminals and thugs is pretty weak.

      • Letlow
        October 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm

        Why do I need any ammunition AGAINST all the racist stereotyping of the “black community”????

        Why is there even a battle that would require ammunition???

        Don’t you people know that racist stereotyping of any race is wrong??? Good grief, what the hell is wrong with this town??????

        • J. Ripper
          October 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm

          I don’t know why you’d need ammunition or feel the need to make the point you made. I’m just saying that actually regardless of race altogether, the fact that these women work for the Sheriff’s department taints the story. I’m not saying the award was undeserved, but as Gladys said in her post above, of course the dispatcher sent cops out right away without questioning the details or legitimacy of their call. And while we could maybe assume these women haven’t taken the same oath “to serve and protect” that sworn officers take, there is in my mind a greater expectation of involvement on their part than the average citizen.

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