As Bill Gies, a manager at Woody's Wharf, was getting ready to leave early Friday, he headed into the Balboa Peninsula bar and eatery's office to send an email.
It had been a night like any other. The last bartenders had left at 1:20 a.m. Gies had checked that the doors were locked, and then spent most of the night in the kitchen, working on the dishwashing machine. Gies usually stays late doing general maintenance
But on the office security monitor, he noticed something out of the ordinary: A table umbrella on the patio was moving.
People commonly search for bottles or cans to take, and Gies thought someone might be rummaging around for that. Then he saw a man pick up the umbrella.
Gies reached for his cell phone. It was dead.
He reached for the office line and dialed 911.
It was about 3:40 a.m.
On the phone with police, Gies described what he was seeing on the monitor. The man on the patio abandoned the umbrella and disappeared from view.
"I know he can only be going one way, which is down the alley," which leads toward the office, Gies said.
With the safety of officers in mind, the retired military veteran told the dispatcher that he was armed, he said.
The suspect wrapped his hand with a towel and punched through the glass window, apparently unaware that the manager stood inside.
Poking his head through, the man locked eyes with Gies, who pointed a Glock 17 handgun at him.
"Freeze!" Gies recalled yelling.
The man took off running. Police are still trying to find him.
"He didn't really have a chance [to steal something]," said Mark Serventi, Woody's Wharf co-owner. "He never got inside the building."
Security footage shows that a man wearing jeans and a T-shirt began casing the area at 2:48 a.m., Gies said.
Police reviewed the footage and took as evidence the bloodied towel the man used to break the glass, Gies said.
Anyone with information related to the case is asked to call Newport Beach police Det. Chris Kimble at 949-644-3767.