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SFC stops would-be robber on San Francisco street

Jul. 8, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Sgt. 1st Class David Ortiz in San Francisco, where he ran down a robbery suspect and handed him to police.
Sgt. 1st Class David Ortiz in San Francisco, where he ran down a robbery suspect and handed him to police. (Courtesy KRON-TV)
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Sgt. 1st Class David Ortiz says his training prepared him to give chase on a city street. (Courtesy of Sgt. 1st Class David Ortiz)

Sgt. 1st Class David Ortiz hopes to join the San Francisco Police Department after his retirement from the military.

Instead of a nice cover letter, he can probably just tell them about Thursday night.

Ortiz, a full-time member of the California National Guard serving with the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, was waiting for his daughter to get off work Thursday in downtown San Francisco when he saw a man sprinting past his car.

“Right behind him there was a young girl, running after him, yelling ‘stop him, stop him.’ ” Ortiz told Army Times in a Tuesday-morning telephone interview. “I jumped out of my vehicle. I was giving chase.”

The man veered across Market Street, likely trying to avoid two uniformed police officers who were further along his path. Ortiz, 46, took advantage.

“I came up from beside of him, and I just tackled his ass,” he said.

Ortiz pinned the man against a wall while the officers ran to assist. They made the arrest and thanked the soldier, who also received a hug from the woman as she began to calm down from the incident.

“She was shaken up, crying like crazy,” the San Francisco resident said. “I’m pretty sure it was a tourist, too.”

Ortiz remembered seeing the man carrying what looked like a purse, but it turned out the woman was chasing the alleged robber to retrieve her iPhone.

KRON-TV in San Francisco, which aired a short piece on Ortiz on Independence Day, reported that police charged the 16-year-old on the wrong end of Ortiz’ tackle with robbery.

Ortiz served as an active-duty Marine from 1987 to 1991, he said (“Infantry — 0311”) and returned to service following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He credited the military for instilling “that bit of courage to react to somebody in need,” but the specific training he recalled came from local law enforcement, when the National Guard paid for him and fellow members to take a six-month police academy course.

He’s since been re-certified, and with 18 years of Army/Marine service already under his belt, he’s hoping to catch more criminals after his military retirement.

Until then, the TV report and social media have earned him some praise in the workplace.

The story reached “all the way up to my general,” Ortiz said. “He ‘liked’ my Facebook page.”

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