Body-cam footage captured the chaos as police detained a man, with assistance from a passerby, at a Starbucks outlet.
The Ocala Police Department reported that Michael Prouty, 39, allegedly invaded a woman’s residence in The Villages, a neighboring retirement zone, on October 24. He is accused of stealing a purse, a mobile phone, and a Cadillac from the woman’s garage.
Subsequently, an officer saw Prouty in the stolen vehicle in Ocala. Prouty ignored the officer’s signals to stop, leading to a crash involving multiple vehicles at an intersection. At this point, a witness intervened.
A witness described the incident in a video, recounting the sound of a loud collision and seeing the Cadillac collide with other cars on U.S. Highway 441. He managed to intercept Prouty and impede his escape, but Prouty managed to break free and dashed into a Starbucks.
At the Starbucks drive-thru, Prouty’s attempt to hijack another car was recorded on an officer’s body camera.
Another individual from a nearby car stepped in, entered Prouty’s vehicle, causing Prouty to run away again. The individual pursued Prouty to the back of the Starbucks, tackled him, and wrestled with him until the police arrived.
Prouty was apprehended and incarcerated at the Marion County Jail, facing fourteen charges, including escape and attempted car theft. He is also expected to be charged by the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office for the burglary at The Villages.
The police chief of Ocala commended the two individuals for their bravery.
Police Chief Mike Balken highlighted the valor of the two citizens for aiding in the arrest and maintaining community safety. He humorously suggested they consider applying to the police force due to their commendable actions.
Additionally, Prouty was implicated in a robbery at a 7-Eleven prior to the incident at The Villages and has a history of burglary and robbery convictions.
In 2022, there was a significant rise of 10.9 percent in motor vehicle thefts compared to 2021, with the total number of stolen vehicles approaching one million. FBI statistics reveal that around 70,000 individuals were apprehended for vehicle theft in 2022, including 2,000 found in possession of a firearm at the time of their arrest.
The incidence of carjackings also escalated by 8.1 percent in 2022 relative to the previous year. Weapons were used in almost 90 percent of these carjackings, and there was a noticeable trend of more perpetrators collaborating, as evidenced by a 13 percent rise in arrests involving groups of two or more suspects. Notably, males under 18 years old comprised 17.8 percent of those arrested for these crimes.
The data further indicates that close to half of all carjackings take place during nighttime hours, specifically from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.