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November 23, 2014

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High school freshman, friend corner suspect in robbery at Henderson sandwich shop

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Sam Morris

Jamilynn Bingham and Brian Bleak are seen outside a Henderson Capriotti’s on Thursday, May 29, 2014. On Wednesday, the two helped corner a man suspected of grabbing a tip jar from the business and running.

For as long as 15-year-old Brian Bleak can remember, he’s wanted to be a police officer.

He dreamed about it as a child, owned his own pair of play handcuffs and watched “Cops” on TV. He felt he could make a difference, and he wanted the chance to help people in distress.

So Wednesday night when he saw a man sprinting away from a Capriotti’s employee, and he discovered the man allegedly stole a tip jar, Bleak didn’t hesitate.

The 5-foot-6 Desert Oasis High School freshman bolted after the man like the police officer he wants to become.

“I didn’t have any thoughts, it was adrenaline” Bleak said. “I just wanted to do the right thing.”

Bleak chased the man along Boulder Highway, in and out of stores, over a cement wall and through parking lots.

Nerves gave way to adrenaline and instinct. Multiple times the man being chased flashed a knife and warned Bleak to get back, but Bleak chased on, calling Henderson Police for backup.

Bleak’s friend, 15-year-old Jamilynn Bingham, followed on her scooter for help. The two teens helped chase the suspect, 22-year-old Cody Sawyer, to a Hyundai dealership on Boulder Highway, about a half-mile from the McDonald’s and Capriotti’s at 170 N. Boulder Highway, near East Lake Mead Parkway.

“He was like, ‘Dude what the (expletive) is your problem,’” Bleak said. “I was maybe three big steps away; he could’ve got me. I said, ‘It’s too late, guy, cops are already here.’”

Bleak and Bingham’s actions helped police arrest Sawyer moments later. Afterward, police officers were shocked and impressed by Bleak’s bold actions. Bingham was relieved her friend was safe.

“I’m glad justice got served, but I was scared,” Bingham said. “I was like, ‘I don’t really know what I am supposed to do.’”

Sawyer is now booked into the Henderson Detention Center on two counts of robbery with deadly weapon, unlawful possession of bludgeoning device, carrying a concealed weapon, petit larceny and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bleak returned to school Thursday. Just like the officers, his friends could hardly believe he had chased the suspect. Bleak’s reasoning, however, was simple.

“I said, ‘Because it was the right thing to do,’” Bleak said.

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