NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — Three-year-old Jayden Muñoz won't go anywhere without his plastic toy gun. When you hear what happened, you'll understand why.
Anthony Muñoz, Jayden's dad, said they were confronted by an armed robber Monday afternoon at their North Richland Hills home.
"He grabbed [Jayden] by his arm. 'If he moves or you move and I don’t get no money, he will get shot,'" the elder Muñoz recounted.
Police have identified that suspect as 22-year-old Jeffrey Long of Fort Worth.
Muñoz said he caught the suspect prying off his window air conditioning unit with a crowbar, attempting to break in. He said the suspect then pulled a gun on him, and eventually, his son, who was inside the residence in the 7100 block of Shauna Drive.
After giving the suspect cash and a cell phone, the elder Muñoz took his son and bolted in their truck. The suspect fled, too.
Police swarmed the area and searched homes and yards for the intruder. Three schools in North Richland Hills — Snow Heights and Mullendore elementaries, and North Richland Middle School — were told to shelter in place.
But police couldn't locate the suspect, so neighbor Jacob Lee said police cleared the scene and left.
Shelter in place was called off at 3 p.m. Monday, about 90 minutes after the initial crime was reported.
But a few doors down, one neighbor felt something wasn't right, even though his house had been searched. He called over some neighbors — including Lee — to help investigate.
His hunch was dead-on.
"We found [the suspect] in the attic, and he kicked a hole in the attic and ran out the front door," Lee said.
He left a huge, gaping hole in the ceiling, and insulation all over the floor. Long had apparently been hiding in the attic — possibly for hours — until he kicked through the plasterboard and made his dramatic drop from above.
But this story doesn't end there.
Half-a-dozen neighbors then chased Long down the street. They said he jumped into a woman's car at the intersection of Holiday and Oakland lanes. They were able to hold the man at bay until police arrived to arrest him.
Jeffrey Long is facing charges that include aggravated robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His bond will be set Wednesday.
The accused criminal has taken away the sense of security for an entire neighborhood — especially little Jayden Muñoz.