Academy Sports Manager Loses Job After Tackling Gun Thief
Normally if you stop a robbery in progress, you get rewarded, not punished; the assistant manager of an Academy Sports in Tallahassee, Fla., found himself out of a job after tackling a man who tried to steal a handgun from the store late last month.
Gun Thief Tackled
As News4Jax reports, it all started on the afternoon of June 29 when 24-year-old Jason White walked into the Academy Sports, grabbed a backpack and filled it with ammunition. He then asked to see a .40-caliber Glock pistol being kept in a glass case. When the employee handed it to him, White grabbed it and started running for the exit.
Fortunately, 32-year-old Dean Crouch, the assistant manager at that Academy Sports location, was able to stop him.
“My employee yelled, ‘Stop that man!’ And 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,” Crouch said. “At the front door is where I stopped him. I tackled him to the ground. We apprehended him and detained him. We secured the firearm.”
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, White was taken into the store’s office while police were on their way. While inside the office, White admitted to stealing the Glock. He claimed he wanted the gun in order to kill an unknown person who was allegedly threatening he and his family.
“He repeatedly said ‘I stole and I admit to it’ and ‘I will steal again when I get out of jail,’” the arrest report says.
Tallahassee Police arrived on the scene and recovered the Glock, the backpack, five boxes of ammunition and two magazines. After obtaining a search warrant for his car, police also found a .45 caliber handgun stolen from Cash America Pawn earlier that day. White also stole a .380 ACP pistol from that pawn shop, but it wasn’t found in his vehicle.
White has been charged with three counts of grand theft of a firearm.
Academy Sports Manager Fired
Normally that would be the end of the story, but it was only the beginning for the Academy Sports manager, Dean Crouch. When Crouch tackled White to the ground, he violated Academy Sports company policy that prohibits employees from touching customers. At first, Crouch was suspended for a week. Then, he was fired during a conference call with company brass.
“Academy has decided to, instead of treating him like the hero he is, they terminated his employment effective immediately because he put his hands on Mr. White,” Crouch’s attorney Ryan Hobbs said.
Hobbs said Crouch is considering suing Academy Sports for wrongful termination. He thinks Crouch saved lives when he stopped White.
“This is not something that happens for Mr. Crouch in his everyday life,” Hobbs said. “I think he was thinking there is a man running out of the store with a gun in his hand with his coworkers following from the firearm area screaming ‘Stop that man.’ Something had to be done and he was the one that was going to do it.”
Former NRA President Marion Hammer said the firing is “just plain crazy.”
“This is insanity. This man is a hero,” Hammer told News4Jax. “He stopped an initial crime that would have led to other crimes, and he gets fired? How on Earth is that right?”
In a statement, Academy Sports said Crouch’s actions violated company policy.
“While this incident ended without injuries, actions inconsistent with our corporate policies were taken,” the company said. “Although we don’t comment on specific personnel issues or share company policies, we can confirm that we’ve addressed the matter with the local store team and the individuals involved.”
Hobbs countered that Academy Sports needs to revise their policy.
“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.”
Crouch, who is married with two children, said the entire situation has turned his world “upside down.”
“We had to put our house on the market because of this,” Crouch said.
In spite of everything, Crouch—who said he’s since gotten job offers since the story broke—has emailed Academy Sports about returning to work there. He worked at the store for over two years.
“I loved my job there,” he said.
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