BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) — A man who allegedly tried to rob a Walgreen’s pharmacy on Valentine’s Day may be regretting his actions. He was punched out by a quick-thinking customer and has a gnarly mug shot to show for it.
A surveillance camera recorded the dramatic chain of events at the Walgreens located at 5896 Cortez Road in Bradenton.
Investigators with the Bradenton Police Department say Anthony Nemeth was wearing a hoodie and had a towel covering his face when he walked into the Walgreen’s pharmacy at 12:24 p.m. on Sunday.
He jumped on the counter and told the pharmacist that he had a gun and demanded that the pharmacist give him all of the Oxycodone pills in the store.
At the same time, David West happened to be on the other side of the counter visiting his girlfriend who worked at the pharmacy.
West initially thought Nemeth was joking, but Nemeth said he was serious and was carrying a gun in his pocket. “When he started reaching into his pants like he had a weapon that’s when I did something just to protect my girlfriend,” West recalled.
West is a trained fighter. He walked over and tried to take the suspect out. The pair wrestled toward the aisle, knocking over merchandise. At one point Nemeth’s sweater ripped off.
West did it all, not knowing whether Nemeth truly had a gun. “I’d rather him use (the gun) on me than (my girlfriend),” West said.
He quickly laid a few good blows on Nemeth, knocking him unconscious.
“He had some pretty good right crosses on him,” Bradenton Police Lt. James Racky said.
“I wasn’t trying to be malicious in any way. It’s just how I reacted to the situation,” West said.
West pinned Nemeth down until the cops arrived. He was happy he protected his girlfriend but sad to see the suspect battling drug addiction. “The whole time I was holding him down it really, really hurt my heart,” West said.
It turned out Nemeth did not have a gun.
Police don’t encourage West’s behavior but they’re proud of him for helping out. They offered some tips if you choose to stop a criminal. “Make sure you don’t hurt yourself. Make sure nobody else gets hurt, and if the guy has a gun, and you can see it, don’t try to take him down because we don’t want you getting shot,” Racky said.
West thinks he did the right thing. “I did what I had to do to protect the person I love. I hope he gets the help he needs and I hope it helps his loved ones too,” he said.
Nemeth was taken to Blake Hospital to be treated and was then transported to the Manatee County Jail. Nemeth was charged with one count of armed robbery, which is a felony.