Man chases, catches shoplifter - FOX 13 News

Man chases, catches shoplifter

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A quick trip to Walmart turned into a wild chase for a man in Lakeland. After watching a shoplifter strike a female employee, Jason Bohannan decided to catch the crook himself.

Most shoppers turned a blind eye, but Bohannan stopped in his tracks after seeing a scuffle between a shoplifter and Walmart employees on Saturday.

"I saw one manager fall down, then I saw a lady come up and her whole collar got ripped off her shirt, and then another one came up and he swung and hit her right in the face," Bohannan said Tuesday.

Bohannan knew he had to get involved.

"I go in there three or four times a week and I always see that lady at the door. She's elderly and frail. So when I saw that, I said, 'No. I'm not going to put up with this," he said.

So he did the unthinkable: he chased down the suspect himself.

"He chased for a little bit in his car, got out, chased him on foot and he was able to talk to our dispatchers and give a direction of travel," said Lakeland Police Department's Sgt. Gary Gross.

Bohannan ran after the shoplifter for two miles, until police caught up and arrested Michael Baggett.

"Without his help, this guy would've gotten away. Now he's off the street and in the Polk County Jail," Gross said Tuesday.

Turns out, the good Samaritan had a reason for running. He's trying to right his past wrongs. Bohannan was recently released from prison after being locked up for 11 years.

"What Jason really made a mistake of when he was a child was stealing at the age of 17. It's ironic that now, as he's really coming up and becoming the person God wanted him to be, that he actually helped the police catch someone that was stealing," said Bohannan's pastor, Mark Bedwell of First Baptist Church at the Mall.

Bohannan insists he's no hero. He's just trying to make his second shot at life count.

"I was just grateful to help somebody out because there have been a lot of people that have helped me," he said.

The suspect, Michael Baggett, is being held at the Polk County Jail on charges of theft and possession of drugs.

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