It was Valentine’s Day, and David West did what any upstanding boyfriend would do when his girlfriend didn’t have the day off — he visited her at work.
So West made his way to the Walgreen’s in Bradenton, Florida, where his girlfriend is a pharmacy employee — and on Sunday afternoon he was seen on surveillance video standing on the customer-side of the counter chatting with her.
But the tender moment was soon cut short when a man wearing a hoodie with a towel covering his face walked to the pharmacy counter at 12:24 p.m., knelt on top of it, told the pharmacist he had a gun and demanded Oxycodone pills.
West told WFLA-TV at first he figured it was a joke, but that feeling didn’t last long.
“When he started reaching into his pants like he had a weapon that’s when I did something just to protect my girlfriend,” West told the station, adding that he’d rather get shot than watch that happening to her.
West — who’s a trained fighter, WFLA said — was seen on camera walking toward the perp, who quickly got off the counter.
West then grabbed the masked man, and the pair wrestled for a few seconds:
Then after he ripped off the guy’s hoodie, West knocked him unconscious with a few punches:
“I wasn’t trying to be malicious in any way,” West told the station. “It’s just how I reacted to the situation.”
West pinned the suspect to the floor until police showed up, WLFA reported. “He had some pretty good right crosses on him,” Bradenton Police Lt. James Racky told the station.
But the hero of the day felt no elation at that moment: “The whole time I was holding him down it really, really hurt my heart,” West told the station, adding that “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.”
The suspect, Anthony Nemeth, was charged with one count of attempted armed robbery, WFLA said — and even though he didn’t have a gun on him, the fact that he said he had one is why “armed” applies in this case, the station added. Nemeth was taken to a hospital before getting transferred to Manatee County Jail, WFLA said.