US Army Veteran Stops Casino Heist by Masked Gunman

Friday, February 9th, 2018 | Written by April Bergman
US Army Veteran Stops Casino Heist by Masked Gunman

In the summer of 2017 in the small town of the Heidingsfeld, Germany, a former U.S Army Veteran was filmed stopping a casino robber in a Batman mask. Just after midnight on the summer night, casino video showed the robber wearing a Batman mask and wielding a firearm approach the American gambler, making threatening gestures.

When the would-be robber turned his back on the former US soldier — who now lives in Germany — the soldier engaged the armed robber from behind. He wrestled the masked criminal to the ground, put him about the face and head, and choked him into unconsciousness.

The former U.S. soldier, Elliot Montalvan, gave testimony recently in the robber’s trial, where he discussed how he used the skills he learned in the military to take down an armed robber. The story was featured in Stars-and-Stripes, a publication featuring the US Armed Services.

US Soldier vs. Batman

Last Monday, Montalvan gave his testimony in court, where he shared the events that took place that night. Jury members also could see the surveillance video.

The 48-year-old masked man, who has yet to be named by German authorities, entered the casino where Montalvan was working late that night. The masked man was wearing a ski mask, working gloves, a Batman mask, and a scarf.

When he initially saw the robber approaching him, his first thought was that it was a joke. Montalvan said, “I thought someone wanted to play a prank on me.”

When the robber said, “Give me the money” in German, Montalvan knew it was no joke.

Elliot Montalvan Gains Control

When Montalvan noticed that the man was armed, he knew that he first needed to gain control of the situation. He recalled his infantry training from his years in the Army.

Once the robber made the mistake of turning his back on Montalvan with the intention of heading towards the casino’s cashier, the Army Vet saw his chance. Mr. Montalvan first grabbed the hand of the robber that was holding the gun, he then grabbed him from behind and brought him to the ground.

Montalvan said, “We went down with such a force that, I (thought) the robber was for a moment unconscious or shocked.”

The robber then continued to struggle squeezing Montalvan’s hand and that’s when he knew that this man. The former soldier said, “[He] would not give up. I started pounding him with a closed palm.”

Finishing Maneuver: A Choke Hold

After a many seconds striking the man, Montalvan began to fatigue and realize punching the man was not enough. As the two shifted on the floor, the ex-soldier was able to get the robber in a wrestling hold and choked the robber until he lost consciousness.

First Aid Reflexes

Video showed that Montalvan’s “first aid reflexes” took over as soon as he got the robber unconscious. He checked the robber’s pulse and flipped the man face-down so to make sure he wouldn’t choke on his own blood. According to German media reports, one of the robber’s cheekbones was broken in the scuffle.

Montalvan then stepped away to call authorities but in all of the chaos, he could not remember the number to call police, so he called his wife and asked her to call them for him. Once he heard the sirens, Montalvan ran outside and knelt down, holding his hands up and let the police know that he was not the bad guy.

Husband and Wife Duo

According to Montalvan, he was covering for his wife who was actually supposed to be working that night at the casino, The couple’s children got sick, so she ended up staying home while he went in to work for her. This was the first time Montalvan said he had filled in for his wife, but he was thankful he did, because she would have been the one to face the robber.

Montalvan said, “I never thought that what I learned could one day really save your life. I never realized it until this night.”

The perpetrator’s sentencing took place on Jan. 30. The armed robber got three years and three months in prison for attempted armed robbery. Montalvan’s testimony and the surveillance footage were the key pieces of evidence.

Montalvan’s US Army Profile

Elliot Montalvan, 35, is from Arkansas. He served in the Army from 2004 to 2010 and was a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His time in the military was spent with the 172nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment out of Schweinfurt, Germany.

Montalvan told Stripes he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after witnessing his best friend, Eric Palacios, die next to him during an Iraq deployment. While deployed, Montalvan suffered a severe back injury, when a vehicle he was riding in hit a roadside bomb.

Montalvan’s extensive back injuries led to six pins in his back. He received a 100 percent disability determination from the Army. His injuries did not seem to slow down Montalvan when duty called.