PALM BAY — It took 62-year-old Ruben Torres a New York minute to become a Palm Bay hero.
That was the amount of time it took Thursday for the off-duty security guard to spot a suspected bank robber in the lobby of the Space Coast Credit Union, retrieve his gun, and hold the bandit until patrol officers arrived.
“I guess it’s the New Yorker in me,” Torres said about his decision to get involved.
Police credit Torres — who has a concealed-weapons permit — with thwarting the bank robbery at the credit union at 152 Malabar Road.
“Torres’ actions, while not encouraged, are appreciated and were very courageous,” Lt. Mark Renkens said. “He took action to stop a crime in progress, and fortunately made a positive difference in the outcome.”
The suspect, Floyd Francis, 23, of Palm Bay, was charged with robbery.
Torres said he was in the branch lobby before 2 p.m. Thursday getting money and had stopped to talk with a credit union associate when he saw aman walk in.
“This guy walked in and looked me over. He wasn’t disguised or anything. But he put a Wal-Mart bag on his head, walked to the counter and gave the teller a note . . . He even took the bag off his head and gave it to the teller to put the cash in,” Torres said.
Torres said he slipped out of the branch office and walked to the parking lot.
“I went to the car and got my weapon,” said Torres, who stopped off at the bank before heading to work at a Melbourne engineering company.
Torres then pulled a 9mm pistol on the robber before he left the branch building.
“That’s when I took him down. The whole thing lasted three to four minutes. The tellers were all nervous,” said Torres, who ordered the robber to get on the ground.
The suspect appeared apologetic before officers arrived and placed him in handcuffs, Torres said.
Francis was taken to police headquarters, along with a possible accomplice waiting in the parking lot, for questioning, officials said.
Bank staffers gave Torres several hugs.
A branch customer who arrived moments after the robbery watched as officers stood behind crime-scene tape.
“It’s not bad, having a (permit),” said Josh Murray, after learning about how the robbery was halted. But Murray also raised concerns about the prospect of an armed Good Samaritan acting on his own.
“It’s definitely good no one got hurt,” Murray said.
“So long as he’s willing to accept that it could have happened.”
It was not the first time Torres has come face to face with someone on the wrong side of the law.
In April 1987, Torres, then a mailman, found himself in the line of fire of William Cruse.
In that incident, Torres made it to his car to get his gun after Cruse started firing several rounds in a Winn-Dixie parking lot in Palm Bay.
The two fired several rounds at each other before Torres ran out of ammunition.
Cruse ended up killing six people, including two police officers that day.