City manager among bystanders who stopped robbery

- A shirtless Sarasota man attempted to rob an elderly woman – but three good Samaritans stopped him.

As daily mass let out at St.Martha's Catholic Church, surveillance cameras captured the scuffle as the three men ran to the rescue of a parishioner.

"I heard shouts and screams. That happens once in awhile by city hall. I wondered, 'Who was that?'" said Tom Barwin.

The man, pictured in a bicycle helmet, is Sarasota City Manager, Tom Barwin. The video shows Barwin and two construction workers wrestling a man named Jason Perez to the ground. Minutes earlier he had caught Barwin's attention.

"I saw him punch a car that drove by him and he said, 'Give me my money you,' and he made a reference to the woman," Barwin recalled.

Barwin was on his bike and headed home to grab lunch when he saw Perez acting out.

"He was walking down the middle of the street, right at cars driving down the middle of the street," said Barwin.

He watched as Perez head toward St.Martha's and he knew something was about to happen.

"We saw an elderly woman come out of the church and he took off right behind her," he said.

When he heard her scream he rushed to help.

"I jumped on my bicycle, raced over there as quickly as I could," said Barwin.

Surveillance footage captured the man hitting the woman over the head after she refused to give him money. With no hesitation, Barwin jumps off his bicycle and runs towards Perez.

"He started a fight with us and we wrestled him to the ground," he said.

Barwin and the construction workers kept Perez there till police arrived. The City Manager once carried a badge as an officer in Michigan and believes his former training really helped out.

"When you're in the police academy you take the training seriously because someone maybe pointing a gun at you or pointing a gun at you and I think once you do that you never forget it," he said.

Perez was arrested for robbery and battery. Officers found capsules of heroin hidden in his rectum. An arrest report states Perez knew he was going to go to jail for what he did to the woman.

Barwin also credits his strength to raising four sons. His son Connor Barwin is a defensive lineman for the Los Angeles Rams.

"All of us did what most people would do," said Barwin. 

Full surveillance video: 

Up Next:

Up Next

  • City manager among bystanders who stopped robbery
  • Judge, quoting Carly Simon, denies request to move trial so witness can watch eclipse
  • Sundial, Bok Tower Gardens popular for eclipse-watchers
  • Search for female TV thief who struck twice, deputies say
  • Busy MacDill AFB about to get busier
  • Building codes have changed in 25 years since Hurricane Andrew
  • Donate used solar eclipse glasses to kids in South America, Asia
  • Manatee Co. monument brings protesters Monday night
  • Man who hit tow truck driver takes plea deal
  • Elderly woman followed home from store, robbed in driveway