Not all heroes wear capes: Good Samaritan helps save two Springfield, MA police officers from likely shooting


The following includes editorial content which is the opinion of the writer, a retired Police Chief and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

SPRINGFIELD, MA- At a time when most people would simply either look the other way, or take out their cellphone to record a viral video for Instagram or TikTok, it is gratifying to see there are some who are willing to risk it all to help their fellow man. In this case, two Springfield, Massachusetts police officers.

Earlier this week, Pedro Perez was driving down the street when he noticed a Springfield police officer who appeared to be in distress while struggling with a suspect on Chapin Terrace in the city shortly after noon on Dec. 27. It was then that Perez decided to act, according to Yahoo News.

The incident came about while the officer was trying to apprehend 41-year-old Joseph Gonzalez, a suspect in an armed robbery. Perez stopped his car and asked the officer needed assistance. It is unknown if the officer spoke to Perez, nodded, or Perez recognized the gravity of the situation but he did not hesitate.

Along with the officer, Perez attempted to restrain the suspect. However Gonzalez was able to obtain the officer’s service weapon just as a backup officer arrived on scene. Both officers attempted to disarm the suspect while Perez tried to restrain him.

Gonzalez was able to get off two shots with the officer’s weapon. Fortunately for the officers and unfortunately for him, one of the rounds struck Gonzalez’s hand while a second struck Perez’s truck, with both shots narrowly missing the two officers and Perez. Gonzalez was finally disarmed and restrained and placed under arrest at around 12:40 p.m.

Officers were responding to the 500 block of Armory Street in the city’s east end for a reported armed robbery at a Metro PCS store. Gonzalez allegedly pulled out a knife and was able to gain an undisclosed amount of cash from the store’s register, officials said.

When Gonzalez was taken into custody, he was in possession of the stolen cash from the store, as well as a large knife.

City officials praised the quick action taken by Perez to assist the officers, including Cheryl Clapprood, the city’s police superintendent.

“Without the help of Mr. Perez, there undoubtedly would have been a much different outcome to this incident,” 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.”

Meanwhile, the city’s mayor praised Perez, calling him 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,” Mayor Dominic Sarno said.

“The officer showed a tremendous amount of restraint. 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.”

Sarno said that when he called Perez to thank him, “he simply and humbly stated this was the way he was brought up to help those in need.”

He echoed Clapprood’s sentiments, noting the lack of concern for safety held by criminals.

“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 doubt that this violent criminal suspect would have taken the lives of our officers and anyone else that was in his way.”

Sarno expressed the hope that “courts do the right thing and take this incident seriously,” hoping the courts do not release the suspect back onto the streets.

“He has already shown that he was willing to use a gun to hurt our SPD officers and anyone else nearby.”

In addition to the first responding officer, Gonzalez was likewise transported to a local hospital for treatment of his unintentionally self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Meanwhile, a local body shop, Mastroianni’s Auto Body had offered to fix Perez’s vehicle, which as noted was struck by a bullet, free of charge and will also provide him with transportation until they finish the repairs.

Gonzalez is facing a host of 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 an FID card; larceny of a firearm; resisting arrest; malicious damage to a motor vehicle; and assault and battery.

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