Good Samaritan lauded for saving lives of 2 police officers in Springfield; suspect charged

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Pedro Perez was driving by when he saw the Springfield police officer in distress and struggling with an armed robbery suspect on Chapin Terrace shortly after noon on Tuesday.

The officer was trying to apprehend the suspect, later identified as 41-year-old Joseph Gonzalez, police said. Perez asked if the officer needed help, jumped out of his vehicle and then tried, along with the officer, to restrain Gonzalez.

But Gonzalez was able to grab the officer’s service pistol, as a second officer arrived on scene and both officers tried to disarm him.

Police said Gonzalez fired two rounds with the officer’s service weapon.

One round struck Gonzalez’s own hand and another hit Perez’ truck. Both shots narrowly missed both officers and Perez. Officers were then able to get the firearm out of Gonzalez’ hand and place him under arrest at 12:40 p.m.

Minutes earlier, at approximately 12:25 p.m., officers responded to the 500 block of Armory Street for a report of an armed robbery at the Metro PCS. Police said Gonzalez allegedly pulled out a knife and then stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the register.

Later, while arresting Gonzalez, officers recovered a large knife and cash stolen from Metro PCS on Gonzalez.

City leaders lauded Perez for stopping to help the police officer.

“Without the help of Mr. Perez there undoubtedly would have been a much different outcome to this incident,” Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood said in a statement. “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.”

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno called Perez a “Good Samaritan” who “was in the right place at the right time.”

“Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood and I are thankful that the initial responding officer was not seriously hurt and I have wished the officer a speedy recovery and encouragement – ‘The officer showed a tremendous amount of restraint,’ Sarno said. “This incident could have ended very differently but thanks to the efforts from this good Samaritan, Pedro Perez, who was in the right place at the right time, he was able to provide assistance to our officers who were trying to detain the suspect.”

“When I called Mr. Perez to thank him, he simply and humbly stated this was the way he was brought up to help those in need,” Sarno said. “Once again, we see that these criminals have little to no regard for the safety or lives of our residents or our brave and dedicated police officers. If this suspect was successful in wrestling the officers service pistol and if Mr. Perez wasn’t there to assist, I have no doubts that this violent criminal suspect would have taken the lives of our officers and anyone else that was in his way.”

Sarno said he and Clapprood “hope that our courts do the right thing and take this incident seriously and hold this dangerous suspect and not release him back onto our streets and into our neighborhoods to cause more mayhem. He has already shown that he was willing to use a gun to hurt our SPD officers and anyone else nearby.”

Gonzalez was sent to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries. The first officer was also sent to the hospital for treatment.

Mastroianni’s Auto Body on Taylor Street has offered to fix Perez’s car, which was struck by a bullet, for free and provide him with transportation until the job is completed, Sarno said.

Gonzalez is facing numerous charges, police said: firearm-armed assault to murder, three counts; assault and battery on a police officer, two counts; armed and masked robbery; discharging a firearm within 500 Feet of a building; assault and battery to disarm a police officer; possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony; possession of ammunition without a FID card; larceny of a firearm; resisting arrest; malicious damage to a motor vehicle; and assault and battery.

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