Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographer, Kim Komenich, Foils Attempted Bank Robbery With Bear Hug

Surveillance Video of Kim Komenich
San Jose Police Department
In surveillance video, Kim Komenich stands behind alleged crook. (San Jose Police Department)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CBS/AP) - Kim Komenich, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, went from bystander to crimestopper in a flash on Monday when he intervened in an attempted bank robbery at a Wells Fargo in San Jose.

Komenich, 53, who now teaches at San Jose State University was in line behind bank robbery suspect Victor Anthony Fernandes,45,when he noticed the man reached into his pocket and slipped a note to the bank teller.

They appeared to be having a normal conversation, but then the suspect raised his voice and told the teller, "Give me your money," Komenich told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Fernandes then reached into his pocket and Komenich said he thought to himself, "If anything bad is going to happen, it's going to happen next."

Komenich who stands 6 feet 2 inches and weighs 260 pounds grabbed the alleged robber and "clamped him down in a bear hug." He then embraced Fernandes for five minutes until the San Jose police arrived on the scene.

Although the suspect was unarmed, the situation could have escalated. Fernandes, was arrested along with two companions, Johnnie Dale Gray, 39, and Tamara Leeann Rennert, 40. All three were being held at Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of robbery, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Between classes, I go out there and do what I can do to make the world a little better for people. All my life, I've been a witness. I haven't really intervened because it was my job to watch," Komenich told the Chronicle.

In 1987, Komenich won the Pulitzer Prize for extraordinary coverage of the revolution that toppled Phillipine President Ferdinand Marcos. He also covered stories in Vietnam, the former Soviet Union, El Salvador, Iraq, and Guyana.

On Wednesday, Komenich was back in class at San Jose State.