Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Would-be hero dies chasing thieves

TAMPA — When a thief snatched prescription drugs out of a woman's hands in broad daylight Wednesday, two people dashed to help her.

It cost one of them his life.

Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said around 1:30 p.m., the woman left the MD & More Clinic on the corner of W Hillsborough Avenue and Town 'N Country Boulevard.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter described what happened next this way:

As the woman came outside, a man grabbed the pills she'd just bought and jumped into a tan Honda sedan with tinted windows. There was a blond woman behind the wheel.

In the parking lot, a bystander saw the thieves getting away and leaped through their rear window, trying to stop them.

The Honda roared off, banging into another vehicle and knocking the person off the car.

Nearby, Jason R. DeMarzian, 25, of Bradenton saw the chaos unfold and jumped on his motorcycle. He chased after the car as it raced west down Hillsborough Avenue.

Around the same time, a 2006 Ford Explorer pulled out the driveway of a Wing House restaurant.

DeMarzian's motorcycle hit it broadside, slammed to the pavement and caught fire.

Ryan Gorskie, 23, of Tampa is the general manager of Mattress Doctor. He was at his desk working when he heard the sickening thump of a bad collision outside.

He ran out the door, already dialling 911 on the store's cordless phone.

He said he saw that the motorcycle was on fire. The rider was on the ground, not moving.

Gorskie said both the biker's legs obviously were broken.

The couple inside the SUV, Tony and Kelly Agan, covered their faces in shock, he said.

A driver jumped out of a nearby car, grabbed DeMarzian under the arms and dragged him away from the burning cycle. Others in the gathering crowd told him to stop moving the victim.

A few cars back, another man got out of a marked county vehicle and put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.

Four other people, including a 20-year Tampa police veteran who was buried Wednesday, have died in motorcycle-related crashes in the past two weeks.

Like Master Patrol Officer Victor Guerrero, DeMarzian was not wearing a helmet.

The driver of the Explorer, Tony Agan, turned 29 Wednesday. Neither he nor his wife, who was a passenger in the SUV, returned a call from a Times reporter. No one answered the door at their Carrollwood home.

Meanwhile, officers continue to investigate the theft. Citing privacy laws, officials wouldn't disclose the type of drug the woman bought, and said they weren't sure why the robbers targeted her.

The suspected thief is described as a 6-foot-2, 175-pound white man in his 20s or 30s with a beard. He wore a blue dress shirt, jeans and blue hat.

The driver of the Honda is described as a 5-foot-5, 130-pound white woman with long blond hair. She wore a white shirt and shorts. The Honda had no tags.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at (813) 247-8200 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 873-TIPS.

Times researcher John Martin and staff writer Justin George contributed to this report.
Rodney Thrash can be reached at or
(813) 269-5303.

Would-be hero dies chasing thieves 05/07/08 [Last modified: Sunday, May 11, 2008 1:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas receives two charter school applications


    Following a two-year dry spell, the Pinellas County school district has received two new applications to open charter schools in St. Petersburg.

    Windsor Preparatory Academy in St. Petersburg could be home to Pinellas Academy of Math and Science's St. Petersburg campus. The Pinellas County school district received a charter school application from that school's leadership this fall to open in 2018.
  2. Southern Heritage group draws fire for posting personal information of Confederate statue opponents


    TAMPA — Curtiss Wilson is an 89-year-old Tampa resident who fought in the civil rights movement.

    A report by Save Southern Heritage Florida includes the "affiliation" of more than 100 people who spoke at the July 19 commission meeting in favor of removing  the Confederate monument from in front of the old county courthouse in Tampa. People on the list say the report was meant to intimidate and harrass opponents of the monument. Save Southern Heritage director Doug Guetzloe said the report is "opposition research" meant to to inform elected officials about who was speaking on the issue.
[Save Southern Heritage Florida]
  3. Gen. Votel interview: 'A bit of a stalemate' in Afghanistan, but a chance to optimize gains there


    In developing the plan for the war in Afghanistan that he announced Monday night, President Donald Trump consulted with advisers including his military leaders through their chain of command.

  4. Water Street Tampa unveils video showing downtown's transformation (w/video)


    TAMPA — Water Street Tampa, the sweeping, 50-plus acre redevelopment project in Tampa's urban core, has unveiled new images and video of what the downtown district will look like upon completion.

    Strategic Property Partners released a conceptual image of what the Tampa skyline will look like once its redevelopment of 50-plus acres of downtown will look like. [Photo courtesy of  of SPP]
  5. Bill Nelson shares Rick Scott's cautious stance on Confederate monuments


    On the issue of Confederate monuments, Sen. Bill Nelson is taking the cautious route of Gov. Rick Scott.