Citizens team up, help police arrest armed gunman

Posted at 9:42 AM, Jul 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-14 11:42:10-04

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    Vero Beach, FL (WPBF) — Justina Anuszewski said it’s a nightmare she keeps reliving.

“I still have flashbacks,” she said. “I still see the gun pointed at my son’s face.”

Last week, Anuszewski was sitting inside Perkins Pharmacy in Vero Beach with her son when she noticed a man walking toward them.

“Straight at us with a gun in his hand, pointing it at my son’s face,” she remembered.

Anuszewski said the man also pointed the gun at her, demanding both she and her son get down on the ground.

They did what the man said but not before Anuszewski secretly dialed 911 and whispering to the dispatcher, letting her know there was an armed robbery in progress.

She then left the phone open so police could hear what was going on.

Anuszewski said she watched the gunman walk behind the counter and order the pharmacist to give him pills.

“He was counting down,” she said. “’You’ve got ten, nine, eight,’ you know? By the second.”

Anuszewski said that’s when she debated pulling out her own gun.

She has served in the Air Force and has a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

In the end, though, Anuszewski decided it wasn’t worth the risk, believing the gunman would leave peacefully if he got his pills.

“If I had taken a shot, which I did have a line of sight on him, and I missed for whatever reason, he could have then hurt somebody else or taken a hostage and the situation would have just escalated from there,” she said.

Anuszewski said another customer walked in while the robbery was ongoing.

She and her son tried waving at him to leave but he wasn’t understanding.

“I ended up yelling at him to get out,” Anuszewski said. “And that’s when he looked over and saw the gunman pointing the gun at the pharmacist.”

Anuszewski said the man left the store but stuck around outside.

She said that man and another woman teamed up to follow the suspect as he got into a car and tried to escape.

The pair was able to help police locate the suspects quickly and take them into custody.

“I think they’re heroes,” Anuszewski said of the man and woman. “I wish I could shake their hands. I don’t know their names, but whoever they are, thank you.”

Police identified the gunman as Daniel Yerkes.

He remains in the Indian River County Jail in lieu of $600,000 bond.

Police said his driver was Stacey Lofton.

She is currently free on bond.

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