When Dean Crouch saw a man allegedly run out of a Tallahassee sporting goods store carrying a stolen handgun, he sprang into action. Crouch, the assistant manager, chased the man, who is also accused of threatening to shoot people, and tackled him.
However, now Crouch, 32, says he has been fired from his job at Tallahassee’s Academy Sports because he tackled the theft suspect who fled the store. According to News4Jax, Dean Crouch was fired “because he physically touched a ‘customer.’”
The Tallahassee man says he was suspended right after the incident and has now been terminated by the company. That news has led some people on social media to criticize Academy Sports for terminating a man many believe is a hero.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jason White Is Accused of Stealing Guns From Two Tallahassee Businesses That Day
Jason White, 24, is accused of grabbing three guns from two different business: Academy Sports and Cash America Pawn early in July 2018.
On July 2, 2018, The Tallahassee Police Department wrote on Facebook, “The Tallahassee Police Department has made an arrest for three firearm thefts occurring Friday, June 29, 2018 at two different business.”
The first call came in from Cash America Pawn. “TPD officers responded to Cash America Pawn located 2535 South Adams Street at 11:21 a.m.,” police wrote.
“Employees reported a man requested to look at two handguns, a .45 caliber and a .380 caliber handgun. The man picked up both handguns and ran outside the store without purchasing them, fleeing the area in a silver Toyota.”
According to The Tallahassee Democrat, four hours later, police received another call, this time from Academy Sports, and discovered that “employees had detained a man who tried to run out of the store with a handgun, ammunition, and a backpack, which were stolen from the business.”
White was accused of grand theft of firearm by the Tallahassee Police Department. Three charges are pending in Leon County, Florida courts.
2. Dean Crouch Helped Catch the Fleeing Suspect
The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper story by Karl Etters further quotes Crouch’s attorney, Ryan Hobbs, as saying the company fired Crouch “because he put his hands on Mr. White” to detain him.
According to the newspaper story, Crouch and another employee observed White allegedly take the gun and try to flee the store, so they “tackled and subdued White at the exit doors.” White was then kept in an office until authorities arrived, and he allegedly made comments such as “I stole and I admit to it” and “I will steal again when I get out of jail,” The Democrat reported.
“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,” Dean Crouch said to News4Jax. “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.”
White is accused of trying to take more than $700 worth of items from the store. The Tallahassee Police Department’s press release in the case said, “A second call was received at 3:12 p.m. at Academy Sports located at 3122 Mahan Drive where employees detained a man who tried to run out of the store with a firearm, ammunition, and a backpack, which were stolen from the business.”
Officers reviewed the evidence and “arrested Jason White for stealing a .40 caliber handgun from Academy Sports. Investigators with the Burglary Crimes Unit assisted with the investigation and reviewed evidence from Cash America Pawn, connecting Mr. White to both cases. A search warrant was obtained by investigators for Mr. White’s vehicle, a silver Toyota Corolla, and the .45 caliber handgun stolen from Cash America Pawn was recovered inside the vehicle,” the release said.
3. Crouch Says He’s ‘Dumbfounded’ by the Store’s Action
Crouch was upset by the termination, and he spoke to WTXL-TV about it.
“I was really dumbfounded honestly, that Academy would do something like this. I worked so hard for Academy, put some blood, sweat, and tears into this place,” said Crouch to the television station. “I had great staff and for them to come through and fire me over trying to protect the community, it really hurts me personally.”
Crouch told News4Jax that his family has had to put their house on the market as a result of the firing, which was made in a conference call.
4. The Company Says Dean Crouch Took ‘Actions Inconsistent With Corporate Policies’
The company hasn’t said much about the Crouch termination. However, Academy Sports spokeswoman Elise Hasbrook told The Tallahassee Democrat: “While the incident ended without injury, actions inconsistent with corporate policies were taken. We addressed the matter with the local store and individuals involved.”
According to News4Jax, Hasbrook also said, “we don’t comment on specific personnel issues or share company policies…”
The store’s website says it’s a sporting and outdoors store. “At each of our 245+ locations, we carry a wide range of quality hunting, fishing and camping equipment, patio sets and barbecue grills, along with sports and recreation products, at everyday low prices. For all. For less,” the website proclaims.
5. Other Companies Are Now Offering Crouch Employment & People Called Crouch a Hero on Social Media
Dean Crouch has a lot of support on social media. Madison Social, a Tallahassee bar, wrote on Twitter, “If anyone knows Dean Crouch- the Academy sports manager that was fired after tackling a guy who stole a gun and threatened to shoot people – have him message us. Happy to try and get him some shifts to help him support his family in the transition.”
One man shared that tweet on his own page and wrote, “This is why we love @MadisonSocial @ForTheTable they try to help our community be a better place. Based on the suspect’s alleged statements Dean Crouch prevented murder. Pending further information I will not be shopping at Academy any longer.”
Some were blunter. “Ill never step foot in your sh*t store for firing #deancrouch you people are part of the problem,” wrote a man on Twitter. A woman wrote, “This is wrong @Academy. shoud rehire Dean Crouch, he’s a hero…and we need heroes!”