Good Samaritans honored for help catching purse thief - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Good Samaritans honored for help catching purse thief

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

Four good Samaritans are receiving praise for a job well done. Tuesday night, the Cedar Rapids police chief presented three of the men with a Citizen Recognition Award.

October 9th, the men worked together to chase down a purse snatcher and hold the suspect until police arrived. The chief said, without their help, the person may have gotten away with the crime.

These men don't have a lot in common. Two of them actually have a criminal history, the third recently returned home from Afghanistan. But in this situation, they were all just people who saw something wrong, and didn't think twice about doing what they could to help.

"If I see somebody getting robbed, I'm going to try my best to help that person," explained Jackie Pirtle, one of the men honored Tuesday.

They're all humble about what happened that day, and in truth, it happened so fast the men say they did not have time to think. But how they reacted reflects highly on each of their character.

Arcadio Exum was the first to see something out of the ordinary. He was at Hy-Vee with his uncle, when someone cried for help.

"I looked up and seen the guy, and took off after him," he said.

Exum began chasing after the man. Meanwhile, right across the street, Pirtle heard the commotion from his home.

"My wife yelled out the window -- there's a lady getting robbed! There's a lady getting robbed! Before I knew it, I threw my coffee down and took off running past everybody," he explained.

They chased the man into a cafe parking lot. That's where Iowa National Guard Sergeant Jeff Zimmerman was enjoying breakfast with his family.

"I really think I was on guard from Afghanistan. My military training kicked in and I just went," he said of his actions.

Exum chased the man through the parking lot and cornered him against a fence. He said, the man basically froze. Exum snatched the purse back, and Zimmerman grabbed the suspect.

"I didn't even know he was behind me, my adrenaline was rushing so fast," Exum noted.

Pirtle was right on both their heels, and immediately jumped in to help Zimmerman.

"I held the dude down until the cops got there. And I said -- don't you move, and I kept saying, call the police! Call the police!" he recalled.

Exum had the honor of returning the bag to its rightful owner.

"Gave her purse back, and she gave me a hug," he said.

All of the men say, they would do it again in a heartbeat.

"I'm just a human being. I do what I feel is right," said Exum.

"I wouldn't say a hero, just the right time, right place to help out," Zimmerman added.

Pirtle's son, Octavio, is the fourth person police honored. He was unable to attend Tuesday night's meeting, but Pirtle said, he's proud to have gone through the experience with his son at his side.

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