TAMPA — Phillip Blue stood nervously in front of the room filled with police officers and media Tuesday afternoon as he received his plaque for an act of bravery.
Tampa Police Major Sophie Teague and Chief Steve Hogue presented the construction worker with the Chief's Citizen Appreciation Award for his part in foiling a purse snatcher on June 16.
Blue, 29, of Gibsonton, was on his way to work after grabbing lunch from a Publix at 2427 W Hillsborough Ave. when he heard an employee yell "He's got her purse."
Second earlier, a young man had snatched a purse from 81-year-old Gertrudis Bosch while she perused cheese with her 80-year-old brother Ramone.
Police say Blue then turned and grabbed the suspect as he came running out of the store —black bag in hand —and tried to hop on a bicycle. Blue subdued him long enough for store employees to come out and help, and for the suspect to drop the bag.
"What he did for us that day was helped return her property," Teague said.
Teague said purse snatchers typically remove the money and throw the purse away, leaving the victim with no way to get back their belongings.
Bosch said she was grateful because her car keys were in her bag. "Without them I had no way to get home or buy the things I was shopping for," she said.
Blue said he was honored to be recognized for just doing what he thought was right.
"You shouldn't expect an award for doing something like this," he said. "But it was great to receive it."