An assistant manager at a Florida outdoors store chased a man running for the exit while carrying a stolen .40-caliber handgun, a backpack and five boxes of ammunition he plucked from the counters.
An employee yelled, “Stop that man!”
Dean Crouch, an assistant store manager at a Tallahassee Academy Sports + Outdoors branch, chased the man, collared him with a tackle at the exit doors and brought him inside the office to await Tallahassee police on the afternoon of June 29.
Both of these men are in trouble — but for different reasons.
Once officers arrived, the suspect, identified by Tallahassee police as Jason White, was found with the .40 caliber gun and other goods from Academy Sports. He also had two other guns — a .45 and .380 caliber — he is accused of stealing earlier that morning from a nearby Cash America Pawn store, according to a Tallahassee police report.
Police found those two guns inside White’s silver Toyota Corolla, a car that witnesses saw speeding from Cash America Pawn that day, Tallahassee police said.
White, 24, told police he stole the weapons and intended to shoot and kill an unnamed person who had threatened him and his family, according to TCPalm.
White was arrested and charged by Tallahassee police with three counts of grand theft. He was released on $5,000 bond and required to undergo mental health counseling.
For his efforts in apprehending the suspect, Crouch, 32, was fired by Academy Sports. According to News4Jax, Crouch was fired “because he physically touched a ‘customer.’ ”
Academy Sports spokeswoman Elise Hasbrook told the Tallahassee Democrat she could not comment on specific personnel matters or policies. But the Texas-based chain said Crouch’s actions in tackling the suspect and his termination were handled in accordance with its policies, according to its statement:
“While the incident ended without injury, actions inconsistent with corporate policies were taken. We addressed the matter with the local store and individuals involved.”
Social media, and the NRA, have championed Crouch.
Former NRA President Marion Hammer called the firing “just plain crazy,” News4Jax reported. “This is insanity. This man is a hero. He stopped an initial crime that would have led to other crimes, and he gets fired? How on Earth is that right?”
Job offers elsewhere have come in for Crouch, including from Madison Social, a Tallahassee bar that took to Twitter.
Others admonished Academy Sports + Outdoors, threatening to never “set foot in your [expletive] store,” and made pleas to rehire him, saying, “We need heroes!” according to Heavy.Com.
Crouch, married with children, reached out to Academy Sports via email in hopes of getting his job back. “Our world is pretty much turned upside down after this. We had to put our house on the market because of this,” News4Jax reported.
Crouch’s attorney Ryan Hobbs told the Tallahassee Democrat: “My instincts tell me they are concerned more about people like Mr. White suing them for being stopped in the course of a theft than they are about rewarding or acknowledging in a positive manner that Mr. Crouch may have saved lives.”