Two citizens who came to the aid of a Tampa police officer who was battling a combative suspect are being hailed as heroes by the police department.
About 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, police received a call regarding a disturbance at the Econo Lodge, 4732 N. Dale Mabry Highway. A young man wandered through the hotel and took a key ring belonging to the manager.
Officer Michael Collins responded and found a man fitting the suspect's description walking along Himes Avenue near Ohio Avenue. The officer tried to speak to the man, Luis Manual Vila, 18, 11210 Caravan Court, but police said Vila resisted him.
As Collins tried to detain Vila, the man struck the officer, police said. Collins attempted to deploy his stun gun, but it had little effect on the suspect, who kept striking the officer.
A cab driver came to the officer's aid and he, too, was struck by the suspect., police said. Then a woman, who was making a delivery nearby, saw what was happening. She grabbed the suspect's feet to keep him from standing up, then sat on his legs.
As the two citizens helped restrain Vila, Collins was able to handcuff the suspect. Within minutes, a second officer arrived to back him up.
Collins, a 27-year TPD veteran, was taken to the hospital to be checked out.
Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward hailed the two citizens.
"It is gratifying to see citizens willing to get involved. It's a miracle that no one was seriously injured. This could have ended tragically. Officer Collins showed tremendous restraint, and I can't say enough about the two citizens who aided one of our officers. They were not afraid to get involved. This is a true example of law enforcement and the community working together to keep our city safe."
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