Nick Anderson had hoped Tuesday night would be an evening to remember. He just didn't realize how memorable it would be.
Anderson and his girlfriend had gone to Salsarita's Restaurant in Hickory Tuesday evening for dinner. His plan was to get down on one knee and pop the big question to her. But before he could get to that, he saw a commotion inside.
A worker was racing a man to a door, yelling for help. When the man he was chasing stopped and tried to hit the worker, Anderson stepped in and put a stranglehold on the attacker.
Outside the restaurant, an off-duty Hickory police officer was walking to his car after his dinner and heard the scuffle. He could see through the windows that a fight was underway and he rushed in.
"I figured I had to do something," said Master Police Officer David Freeman. He helped to wrestle the man to the ground. It turns out the man, according to witnesses, had gone to the register and demanded money. Police say he fits the description of the guy who had robbed the same restaurant twice before in the past month.
The previous times the robber indicated he had a weapon. This time, according to police, there was no mention of a weapon. That's why a worker raced to lock the door and keep the man inside until police could arrive.
The suspect, now identified as Graham Kiziah, was detained by Freeman, Anderson and the worker until officers on duty arrived.
Police Chief Tom Adkins says patrons in the restaurant stood up and cheered after the arrest was made.
"We still don't know the motive or why he seemed to go to the same place every time," said Adkins about the suspect.
Kiziah is charged with one count of common law robbery from Tuesday night and two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon for the other alleged incidents. He is jailed under a bond of $175,000. The investigation is ongoing.
"We are just thankful it turned out the way it did," said the Chief.
Even so, Adkins says citizens are taking a chance when they try to stop a robber by themselves. There is always the possibility, he says, that the suspect would have a weapon that they did not see.
Anderson says he feels good about what he did.
"I believe I did the right thing," he said.
As for his big plans for the night? He finally did get around to the proposal later in the evening at a local park.
The answer? "She said yes!"
A memorable evening in more ways than one.