Marine Staff Sgt. Josue Fragoso was going through paperwork with a prospective recruit on Tuesday evening when he heard glass shattering.

His first thought was that Daniel’s Jewelers, the recruiting office’s neighbor in the Los Angeles-area Del Amo Fashion Center, might be in trouble. Fragoso sprinted out of the office and witnessed four individuals, some carrying hammers, in the middle of an apparent smash-and-grab jewel heist.

The other Marines in the office, along with applicant Scott Elliott, fell in behind the staff sergeant.

Fragoso proceeded to tackle one of the suspects, while Elliott nabbed a second, pinning him against a rail just outside the mall. Elliott told Marine Corps Times that he used his background in martial arts to then strategically deposit the suspect to the ground.

Sgt. Andre Henry grabbed a third suspect.

“Part of your training is to kind of leap without looking and when someone needs help or something wrong is going on, you have to do what you know is right,” Henry told Marine Corps Times.

The person Henry accosted managed to break free, but he and the other Marines, with the help of a few bystanders, managed to restrain the remaining two suspects.

Local police arrived about five minutes later, according to Henry, and took the two suspects into custody. The Marines later collected about 15 to 20 pieces of jewelry that were on the ground outside the mall and returned them to the store, Henry said.

Fragoso said his training as a Marine helped him maintain composure and analyze the situation under pressure.

Marines are different,” he said. “Marines are individuals that take action and do the right thing.”

Elliott, meanwhile, is not yet a Marine recruit. At age 33, he needs to first be granted an age waiver. But once it goes through, he will be cleared to join and pursue his goal of becoming an infantryman.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to be a grunt in the military,” Elliott said. “I’ve always wanted to serve and protect.”

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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