Future uncertain for manager fired for tackling accused gun thief

GoFundMe account, job offers give hope to former Academy Sports employee

By Mike Vasilinda, Francine Frazier - Senior web producer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Job offers and a GoFundMe account for an Academy Sports assistant manager who was fired for physically stopping a suspected gun thief are giving his family hope for the future.

But what comes next is still up in the air for Dean Crouch, his wife and their two small children, as the story of his heroics and the aftermath has gone viral.

Police said Crouch, 32, tackled Jason White, 24, as White tried to run out of the sporting goods store with a stolen Glock and a backpack stuffed with ammunition. Surveillance video of the incident exists, but it is unclear if it will ever be released.

White later told police he was taking the gun because he planned to kill someone he believed was threatening his family.

Despite stopping White from making off with more than $700 in merchandise, according to police, Crouch was suspended and later fired for violating Academy Sports' policy that forbids physically making contact with customers.

“To comply with their policy would be to have allowed Mr. White to leave the store, follow him to the parking lot area and ask him to return to the store,” Crouch said, adding that even stopping a rape in the dressing room wouldn't be allowed under the letter of the policy. “We’re not allowed to physically put our hands on customers, I guess.”

The NRA and Crouch's attorney, Ryan Hobbs, are calling him a hero.

“He stopped the crime of theft. He stopped potential crimes that the criminal admitted he was going to act out on with the weapon that Mr. Crouch stopped him from stealing,” Hobbs said.

The family, especially unemployed Crouch, remain on pins and needles about their future.

“I’ve only been able to sleep maybe two, three hours a night,” Crouch said. “I'm worried about my family and what’s going to happen next with us.”

At least one job offer was texted to the couple’s attorney Thursday during Crouch's interview with News4Jax. But the family's house remains up for sale.

A GoFundMe account started to save the Crouches' home raised just under $1,800 in less than 24 hours, then surpassed $4,000 by Friday morning.

Crouch, who said on Wednesday that he was hoping to get his job back, said he's no longer sure that’s what he wants.

In a statement Wednesday, Academy Sports spokesperson Elise Hasbrook said:

"While this incident ended without injuries, actions inconsistent with our corporate policies were taken. Although we don't comment on specific personnel issues or share company policies, we can confirm that we've addressed the matter with the local store team and the individuals involved." 

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