Cops: Citizen heroes help police officer arrest aggressive burglary suspect in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Ray Freeman said he came face to face with pure evil Wednesday afternoon. What he saw, he said, terrified him.

“I looked into his eyes and can tell you, this guy had a death wish,” he told News Channel 8. “He was out to kill, if he would’ve gotten the officer’s gun, would have shot everyone around. I knew I had to do something.”

The Tampa cab driver knew he had to act fast, as a police officer’s life hung in the balance.

“All I thought about is, ‘if I don’t do something, this officer would not see his kids tonight.’ Or, he wouldn’t make it home,” Freeman said.

He explained that he was driving along Himes Avenue, near Raymond James Stadium, just after lunch on Wednesday when he saw Tampa Police Officer Michael Collins struggling to arrest an 18-year-old.

The teenager, Luis Manual Vila, was attacking the officer, Freeman said, and wouldn’t stop throwing punches.

The cabbie jumped in the middle of the melee to help out the officer.

So, did Dolores Lyle.

The medical supplies rep was in the area to make a delivery when she saw the chaos on the sidewalk. She, too, jumped in quickly as she witnessed Ray, the police officer, and the teenager in a massive struggle.

“I’m not scared of anybody or anything. My nature, I guess,” she said.

The teenager, at the center of it all, was accused of stealing the master key from the Econo Lodge down the street.

The police officer try to stop him to ask questions. That’s when two citizens, complete strangers, became heroes and saved a police officer’s life.

Officer Collins is a 27-year veteran of the department, and the two heroes said they can’t wait to see him once again.

“I would do this again in a heartbeat. I’ve got family members who are police officers,” said Lyle.

Ray added, “Being a cabdriver and having a dangerous job myself, I would hope someone would come to my rescue.”


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