One night last month, several Lakewood residents came face to face with neighborhood crime.

It’s an experience they won’t soon forget.

Dody and Arthur Nieto and their 12-year-old son Vincent Paul were returning from a soccer banquet June 3 when they saw a man aiming a gun at his former girlfriend.

The Nietos stopped their car and the corner of Junius and Abrams just as they saw the man fire two shots at the woman, Maria Vega, who had just left work at El Chico Restaurant.

“I don’t know how Maria found the strength, but she got herself over to our car,” Dody says.

“Truly, our thoughts were to leave, but when you have someone begging at your window, I couldn’t leave.”

So the family pulled the injured woman into their car by her “El Chico” apron and drove to their nearby convenience store and salon on Beacon, where they called an ambulance.

Vega survived the shooting and contacted the Nietos several days later to thank them, Dody says. The man who shot Vega remains at large, Dody says.

Arthur grew up in Lakewood, and Dody has lived here for the past 20 years, but neither plans to move as a result of the incident.

“I don’t know if I’d want to be anywhere else but Lakewood,” she says.

Following the well-publicized incident, the Dallas media pegged the Nietos as heroes, but Dody says their reaction was simply instinct.

“I think people get to the point where they think, ‘Oh well, somebody else will call’,” Dody says.

“We get involved in something heavy, but at the same time, I’m happy we did.”

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