Unlikely hero helps police nab robbery suspect 

A school district lawyer from an Atlanta suburb might seem like an unlikely hero in San Francisco’s crime-fighting world, but that’s what police are calling a tourist who stopped a downtown bank robbery suspect Friday.

"I didn’t know I was in the game, so I wasn’t prepared for that play," said Jack Lance, a former football player, from his bed at St. Francis Memorial Hospital, where he was recovering from knee surgery Monday. "But you rely on instinct."

At about 1:30 p.m. Friday, the 58-year-old attorney was walking through downtown during a break from the National School Board Association conference, which was being held at Moscone Center. The general counsel for the Rockdale County School District in Conyers, Ga., Lance had given a presentation the previous day on school law.

"I saw, over to the right, a man and a woman — something going on. They kind of bolted through the crowd," near Powell and Market streets where Lance was walking. "I didn’t know she was a police officer. All I knew was that she was trying to stop him."

The man turned in Lance’s direction, Lance said. "I got in his way and hit him with my forearm in the chest. It was kind of a glancing blow.

"Unfortunately, I went down to the pavement and all my weight went down on my knee. I knew I had shattered my knee."

Officer Irene Michaud, who undertook the chase, was patrolling in plain clothes with her husband and partner, Brian Michaud, near Cyril Magnin and Eddy streets when they saw a man who matched the description of a bank robber they were looking for.

"We pull out our stars and call him over to us," she said.

The guy yelled "hell, no," Irene Michaud said, and took off running toward the cable car turnaround at Powell and Market streets.

"As he’s running, I see him dump a gun in the garbage can. My concern is the gun but I have to catch him too," she said.

When the suspect, whom police identified as 26-year-old Ricardo Martinez, saw a foot beat officer near the turnaround, he turned and ran north on Powell Street, Michaud said. That’s when Lance stopped his progress.

"I stunned him and I slowed him down," Lance said. "Unfortunately, I

didn’t knock him down, but I hit him pretty hard in the chest. I also got in his way." His quick reaction was enough to slow the suspect down and allow Michaud to apprehend him.

After undergoing surgery Saturday morning, Lance received a letter of commendation from the officers at the Tenderloin station. Inside was a gift certificate for two nights at the Hilton, to make up for the time he spent in the hospital.

"It was the least we could do," Michaud said. "He saw somebody in distress. He risked his safety and he tried to help me stop him. … He’s the true hero of this story."

Martinez was booked on charges of assault, resisting a public officer, weapons violations and possession of stolen property, police spokesman Sgt. Steve Mannina said Friday.


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