A “career criminal” is off the streets, thanks in part to two “citizen heroes” who helped end his crime spree.
Police body-cam footage captured a dramatic arrest at a Starbucks, where a man was apprehended with the help of courageous bystanders.
Career criminal kicks off spree
The incident unfolded after 39-year-old Michael Prouty allegedly broke into a woman’s home in The Villages, a massive retirement community near Ocala, Florida, on October 24.
Prouty then purportedly stole a purse, cellphone, and even a Cadillac from the victim’s garage.
Officers later spotted Prouty driving the stolen Cadillac in Ocala and attempted to initiate a traffic stop.
However, Prouty defiantly refused to comply, resulting in a chaotic car crash involving other vehicles at an intersection.
Tom Episcopo, a brave bystander, immediately intervened to assist law enforcement without worrying about his personal safety.
“I heard what sounded like a really loud crash. I looked over towards the gas station there on the corner and saw a Cadillac crashed into cars on 441,” he detailed. “And I looked over and I watched him get out of the car, then he was running towards me.”
Episcopo said that he used the cover of a bank truck that was heading towards Starbucks to make his move.
Career criminal taken down by brave bystanders
He jumped Prouty and told him that he wasn’t “going anywhere,” but was “out-muscled” by the bigger man, who was recently released from prison on burglary and robbery charges after a six year stint.
When Prouty broke free of Episcopo’s hold, he attempted to carjack a woman in line at the Starbucks drive-thru.
“He’s taking the car. He’s taking that car,” an officer can be heard saying as they screeched up to the scene.
That’s when another bystander got involved by getting into the car that Prouty was attempting to steal, which caused him to flee.
The man didn’t stop at saving the woman’s car from being stolen, he took off after the suspect and chased him behind Starbucks.
He managed to grab a hold of Prouty and pin him against a wall until police arrived on foot.
One officer commanded the man to let him go, while the other one ordered the suspect to get on the ground.
Prouty put up a bit of a fight, refusing to take his hands out from under his chest as an officer warned that “he might have a gun.”
The body-cam footage concluded with the bloody suspect cuffed in the back of a police cruiser.
Career criminal arrested
Following his arrest, Prouty was booked into the Marion County Jail and is facing a total of fourteen charges, including fleeing and eluding, as well as attempted carjacking.
Additionally, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office will bring separate charges against Prouty for the robbery at The Villages and another at 7-Eleven convenience store hours before the chase kicked off.
Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken had nothing put praise for the brave men that helped officers apprehend Prouty.
“We are proud of these two citizens for their heroic action, for helping our officers make the arrest, and for keeping our community safe,” he said in a statement.
He also extended an invitation to both individuals, urging them to consider applying to join the police force, given their exceptional valor.
As for Prouty, he’s headed back to jail, where he has been on and off since being sentenced to six years on similar charges in 2017.
He was initially released in July 2022 on a community release program, but committed additional crimes that got him sent back to the slammer.
After wrapping up his initial sentence, he managed to bond out this March, while he was awaiting trial for the felonies he was charged with while in the community release program.