Store manager fired after tackling suspect with stolen gun

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By: Julie Montanaro | Mike Vasilinda
July 11, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A manager who tackled a customer as he ran out of the store with a stolen gun and ammunition has been fired by Academy Sports.

Dean Crouch worked at the Academy Sports store on Mahan Drive in Tallahassee.

"My employee yelled stop that man," Dean Crouch said. "I turned and looked and saw Mr. White running from the gun bar toward the front of the store with a firearm in his hand. At the front door is where I stopped him. I tackled him to the ground. We apprehended him, um, and detained him. We secured the firearm."

Crouch says he was suspended for a week and then fired via conference call. He has e-mailed the company asking them to reconsider.

No one at the store is talking, but they referred us to the company’s corporate offices in Katy, Texas.

“We are grateful that everyone is safe after this incident and for the quick actions of the Tallahassee Police,” Academy Sports spokeswoman Elise Hasbrook said in a statement e-mailed to us more than a week after our initial request for comment. “We have policies in place to protect our team members and customers during a robbery. While this incident ended without injuries, actions inconsistent with our corporate policies were taken.”

We reported on the incident soon after it happened on June 29. Arrest paperwork filed with the Leon County Clerk says Jason White asked to see a Glock from inside the glass case and once the employee handed it to him, he ran. That paperwork indicates Crouch “ran after him, making contact (tackling him) just past the first doors.' The gun flew out of White’s hand and was recovered along with a backpack that contained other stolen merchandise, including two magazines and ammunition.

Crouch detained White in the manager’s office until police arrived.

TPD’s incident report says White told the officer someone threatened his family and kids. “I stole and I admit to it,” White told police. "I will steal again when I get out of jail.”

White repeatedly said he would shoot someone, according to the police report, and that they’d see him on the evening news. “Just you wait and see,” White reportedly said.

Court records show White was released from jail on bond on July 6. Court documents indicate he is on “Supervised Mental Health Pre-Trial Release” and has been ordered to stay away from Academy Sports and Cash America Pawn – from which he is accused of stealing a gun earlier the same day.

There is surveillance video of the incident, according to the police report, but neither Tallahassee Police nor Academy Sports is releasing the video. Neither is the state attorney’s office, saying it has not yet been made public in the discovery process.

"Our world is pretty much turned upside down after this," Crouch said. "We had to put our house on the market because of this."

The NRA calls the firing just plain crazy.

"This is insanity. This man is a hero," said the NRA's Marion Hammer. "He stopped an initial crime that would have led to other crimes, and he gets fired. How on earth is that right?"

Crouch said he has received several job offers in the wake of the incident, but is still hoping to get his job back at Academy Sports.

"I loved my job there," Crouch said. "I knew that if he would have gotten away with another stolen firearm that it was something really bad could have happened in our community and that's why I felt like I had to stop him."

By: Erika Fernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 11, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Academy Sports + Outdoors says it's just following corporate policy, but the store is facing backlash for its decision to fire former manager Dean Crouch for tackling a man who tried stealing a gun.

The WCTV Facebook page is flooded with comments from viewers saying they believe Crouch did the right thing, and he shouldn’t lose his job over it.

Sachs Media Group says it's important for companies to have policies in place and to follow them as much as possible, but the company should factor in all circumstances. They say by punishing the 'hero' in this incident, Academy risks public backlash that can cost them more than they anticipated.

"I think they're trying to protect public safety, their employees and customers, but the irony is, in this case, it's possible that applying that policy actually backfires on them. If this employee was acting to protect public safety, that ought to be recognized, respected, and this decision ought to be re-visited," said Sachs Media Group CEO Ron Sachs.

Sachs says he would advise the company to reconsider the decision to fire Crouch.

Many people are calling the former manager a hero. They say he shouldn’t lose his job for possibly saving the lives of many others.

Academy Sports corporate office told WCTV in a statement they're grateful everyone is safe, but Crouch's actions were inconsistent with the policies in place to protect the store's team and customers.

Tallahassee residents say they think Crouch should get his job back.

"Sometimes you have to compromise your policies. The guy was trying to do something right," said Charles Huff.

"I think that was kind of harsh. I think they kind of overreacted by firing him," said Charles Keyes.

People told WCTV they think there should be an exception for actions taken by employees to protect the lives of those around them.

Some local businesses like Madison Social also reached out to Crouch, and offered him a job to help him get back on his feet. The bar declined an interview, telling us they're just trying to help the guy out.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
July 2, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Tallahassee police have arrested a man accused in three firearm thefts from two different businesses.

At 11:21 a.m. Friday, officers with the Tallahassee Police Department responded to the Cash America Pawn store located 2535 South Adams Street for a reported theft. Employees told police that a man requested to look at two handguns, a .45 caliber and a .380 caliber. They say that's when the man picked up both handguns and ran outside the store without purchasing them, fleeing the area in a silver Toyota vehicle.

Later the same day, around 3:12 p.m., police responded to another theft at Academy Sports located at 3122 Mahan Drive. Employees had detained a man who they say had tried to run out of the store with a firearm, ammunition and a backpack, all stolen from the business.

The man was later identified as 24-year-old Jason White.

Officers reviewed the evidence and arrested White for the theft of a .40 caliber handgun from Academy Sports.

Investigators with the Burglary Crimes Unit assisted with the investigation and reviewed evidence from the theft from Cash America Pawn, ultimately connecting White to both cases.

A search warrant was then obtained for White’s vehicle, a silver Toyota Corolla, and the .45 caliber handgun stolen from Cash America Pawn was recovered inside.

White was booked into the Leon County Detention Facility on three counts of grand theft of a firearm.

The case has been assigned to investigators from TPD’s Burglary Crimes Unit. Investigators are asking anyone with additional information about this case to please call them at (850) 891-4200 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-TIPS.

Jason White

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