A group of robbers in Milwaukee showed respect for Veterans Day this week when they returned the property of an Army reservist after finding his military identification card in the wallet they had stolen at gunpoint.
The 21-year-old University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student and Army reservist said he was walking home from work about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday when the men came out from between two houses. He thought about running to the other side of the street but decided against it.
The victim, who asked not to be identified because the robbers still have his keys, said one of the men pulled him into an alley. Then they had him lay face down and one put a gun to his neck. They took his wallet, $16, keys, his cell phone and even a PowerBar wrapper from his pants pockets, he said.
But when one of the robbers, whom the reservist presumed was the leader, saw his Army ID in the wallet, the hostile tone quickly changed. The robber told the others to return the items and they put most of it on the ground next to him, including the wrapper, the reservist said.
"The guy continued to say throughout the situation that he respects what I do and at one point he actually thanked me and he actually apologized," he said.
The reservist said he asked the robbers, who all had hoods or hats covering their faces, if he could get up and they said he could before starting to walk away.
"The leader of the group actually walked back, gave me a quick fist bump, which was very strange," he said.
Milwaukee police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said the reservist is credible and that officers still were looking for the suspects Tuesday.
The reservist didn't realize until later that his keys were not with him and he doesn't know if the robbers intended to keep those, he said.
As he was walking home, he realized the strangeness of the situation and wondered whether his girlfriend would believe him. (She did.) He said he feels lucky.
"I'm just kind of awestruck that everything was given back to me due to just being in the military," he said. "I realize in pretty much every other situation that wouldn't happen."
He said he's never been deployed, only having signed up for the Army Reserves about a year ago. He is the first person in his immediate family to join the military and said he's always wanted to do it.