Springfield, Massachusetts, city leaders on December 28 honored a good Samaritan for assisting an officer in the violent arrest of an armed robbery suspect.
Springfield resident Pedro Perez was praised for his heroic actions by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood.
“Instead of telling you about a good arrest made and good deeds by a civilian, who by no means was obligated to do so, instead of planning a funeral or hospital visits, I’m telling you about a good arrest that was made and tragedy was averted,” Clapprood said.
“I don’t think he’s realized what he did,” Sarno added. “A true definition of a hero.”
According to police, on December 27, a Springfield officer saw a man who matched a description of a robbery suspect on Chapin Terrace. When the officer made contact with the man, identified as 41-year-old Joseph Gonzalez, a physical struggle broke out between the two. Perez, who was driving by, saw the scuffle and immediately jumped into action to assist the officer.
Gonzalez had been accused of robbing a MetroPCS at knifepoint, according to prior police reports.
Officials said the incident could have been fatal for Gonzalez or the officer had Perez not intervened to help subdue the suspect.
“It could definitely be different today if not for Mr. Perez,” Clapprood said.
Perez said he didn’t hesitate to act when he saw the fight break out and immediately exited his vehicle to assist the officer.
“It’s either you help out or you sit there and watch and something worse is going to unfold,” Perez said.
According to officials, Gonzalez grabbed the officer’s service pistol and fired multiple shots that narrowly missed the officer and Perez. One shot went through his own hand, another hit Perez’s truck and another pierced the hood of Perez’s sweatshirt.
“Nothing went through my head,” Perez said. “I didn’t think of any consequences. I saw he was a big guy and I just knew that she, the officer, needed help.”
Another officer soon arrived to help Perez and the responding officer, and together they were able to get the firearm away from Gonzalez and take him into custody.
Officers on the scene provided first aid treatment to the wounded Gonzalez. He and the responding officer were both transported to Baystate Hospital for treatment.
“Without the help of Mr. Perez, there undoubtedly would have been a much different outcome to this incident. His actions in all likelihood saved the lives of two Springfield police officers. This dangerous suspect had zero regard for anyone’s livelihood and my officers involved put their lives on the line to prevent this individual from causing any additional harm. These officers displayed a degree of professionalism and bravery that their families, our fellow officers and the residents of the city they serve should be extremely proud of,” Clapprood said.
Gonzalez is facing charges of armed and masked robbery, three counts of firearm-armed assault to murder and other charges.