- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Tampa Bay-area MMA fighter chased a man down and hog-tied him with duct tape after he witnessed the man rob a bank teller.

Eric Haritakis, nicknamed the “Ginja Ninja’” by friends for his red hair and fighting skills, was waiting inside the Grow Financial Federal Credit Union in Largo on Friday when a man robbed one of the tellers, a local Fox News affiliate reported.

Deputies said Michael Jon Neubecker, 31, handed the clerk a note and took off with an undisclosed amount of money, a local ABC affiliate reported.

“The teller was empty. She yelled to the other woman across the bank, ‘Hey, that guy just robbed me,’ … and I just kind of ran out of the door,” Mr. Haritakis recalled.

Surveillance video from a neighboring UPS Store showed Mr. Haritakis running after the suspect, Fox reported.

“I don’t really know what I was thinking at that time. I just kind of went for it. I figured if he had a weapon, he probably would have pulled it out at that point,” Mr. Haritakis said. “I just timed it right and took him down.

Several minutes later, witnesses saw Mr. Haritakis bringing the suspect back to the front of the bank.

“I see the guy bringing a guy back with his hands behind his back and almost carrying him,” UPS employee Kristin Drexler told Fox. “I was just amazed at how down-to-earth [Mr. Haritakis] was. He was just so nonchalant about the fact that he just chased down a bank robber.”

A nearby shop owner gave the MMA fighter some duct tape and Mr. Haritakis tied the suspect up until deputies arrived.

Mr. Neubecker, a transient, was taken to Pinellas County Jail charged and charged with one count of unarmed robbery, according to detectives.

Despite receiving heaps of praise for his heroic act, Mr. Haritakis doesn’t consider himself to be a hero. He said he just felt obligated to take action.

“It’s people standing around that don’t do anything, that’s the problem. People just let it happen when, if we all work together, it wouldn’t happen in the first place. Everybody should be doing that,” he told Fox.

Deputies don’t recommend apprehending criminals. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said people near a crime should just call 911, ABC reported.

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