When Jose Ortiz, of Des Plaines, went to the , on a Friday afternoon in late November, he planned to get some money for his mother. But he did more than make a withdrawal; Ortiz came face-to-face with a suspected armed bank robber, and fought to protect his mother, he said. Ortiz was honored for his “selfless actions” at a city council meeting with the Citizen Award of Valor on Jan. 22.
On Nov. 30, Ortiz was waiting with his mother in the bank lobby when he noticed a man at the counter acting in a suspicious way, Ortiz said. The man at the counter, later identified by law enforcement as Martin Crossley, 37, of Lombard, was nervously looking side to side, Ortiz said, and, with his hat, glasses and other clothing, looked like he was wearing a costume.
When Crossley approached other bank customers with a bag of cash, acting like he was trying to scare them, Ortiz said his mother froze, and he decided to take action to protect her. Ortiz went through the first set of glass doors with Crossley at approximately the same time and started punching the suspected thief, he said.
“We fought in there for 45 seconds, and in the fight he lost his shoes, his hat, his glasses and he start running,” Ortiz said.
After Crossley broke free, Ortiz chased him around the building and into the alley where he confronted him again in a physical altercation, according to the police report. Crossley managed to escape from Ortiz again and got into a black SUV waiting for him, according to the police report.
Ortiz said he was worried the suspected bank robber might have a weapon, but he was focused on defending his mother.
"I think I did the right thing," Ortiz said. "People do a lot of bad things and nobody does anything; I’m not that kind of man."