Cedric Lucas tried to shoot some pool last night, but the bullet wound in his right hand and the five stitches in his left queered his concentration.
On Sunday night in the same dreary gray pool room in the back of a burger and beer restaurant in Silver Spring, Lucas had played much better. He'd won three games in a row.
Then commenced all the nastiness with the armed robber.
Lucas, 26, a big man who can (when his hands aren't all bandaged up) dunk a basketball behind his back, was shooting pool beneath the "No Loitering" sign when a masked man with a .22-automatic sidled in through a back door.
The man said it was a "stick up." Lucas, his eyes on the pool table, thought it was a joke. "You gotta be crazy," he said. "You're ruining my game."
The man then pointed the pistol at Lucas' head, herded him and two other players into the dining room of the Westwood Restaurant and shouted "nobody move" to the 21 customers.
Meantime, Lucas--an unemployed security guard, part-time cabbie, and a former Marine--was standing near the gunman considering his options.
Passing through his mind, Lucas remembered last night, were thoughts of his little sister who had a gun pointed at her head during a robbery 3 1/2 years ago in Columbia, Md. He also flashed to news reports of the Seattle night club where 12 men and a woman were hogtied and shot to death last week.
When a diner in the restaurant bolted for the door, and the masked man raised his pistol, Lucas says, he stopped thinking.
He leaped at the gunman from behind, grabbing the barrel of the pistol with his right hand and the robber's raised arm with his left.
"It seemed he was intent on shooting somebody. That made me mad as hell," said Lucas, who is 6-feet-4-inches tall and weighs 220 pounds.
Wrestling for the gun, Lucas and the robber busted up the restaurant.
They knocked over three tables and demolished a fourth. They broke beer mugs and rolled in shards of glass.
Some customers ducked behind the bar; others squeezed into the men's room. Finally, the gun went off. A bullet went through Lucas' right hand, but he held on.
"I thought, man, if you let him go, you are gone. You got things inside you called animal instincts. I used them. I started cussing at him and growling in his ear. I wanted to scare him," Lucas said.
With blood running from both his hands, Lucas managed to fall on the man, pin him to the floor and take away his gun.
The man then ran out of the restaurant onto Georgia Avenue where police arrested him after a short chase.
A suspect identified as Stephen Leslie Kind, 34, of Gaithersburg, was charged with armed robbery, attempted murder, assault with intent to rob and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime. He was held without bond yesterday in the Montgomery County Detention Center.
Lucas, who was not seriously hurt, has been resting for the past two days. His brother, Alan, a D.C. police cadet, chewed him out for almost getting killed. Dr. Jay W. McRoberts of Silver Spring dressed his wounds yesterday without charge.
Last night at the restaurant--whose owners have promised to pay all of Lucas' medical bills and help him find a security job--a pool player named Oscar said this about Lucas: "He's a good guy--plus he's big."