Man stops armed robbery in progress, police arrest suspect

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published April 9, 2015




Ferndale police arrested a suspect in an armed robbery April 3 after a concerned passer-by stopped the crime in progress and took the victim to the police.

At about 1:30 p.m. April 3, a 65-year-old woman visiting Ferndale from the Upper Peninsula was attacked by a man who tried to rob her at gunpoint, police said. The robber followed the woman from the downtown area near Nine Mile Road and Woodward Avenue into the residential neighborhood at Bermuda and East Breckenridge streets.

Police said the robber grabbed the woman and dragged her into the doorway of a nearby apartment building. According to police, the robber pointed a gun at the woman while demanding money. The woman fought with the suspect, police said, and screamed for help.

A 75-year-old man driving by saw the robbery in progress and yelled for the robber to stop, Ferndale Police Lt. William Wilson said.

“This man saw the woman being beaten in the doorway and he stopped and yelled for the attacker to leave her alone,” Wilson said. “He noticed the robber had a gun, so our good Samaritan began to get out of his truck, and that caused (the robber) to run. This man very likely saved this woman’s life, or at least from a bigger beating.”

After stopping the robbery, the man drove the victim to the Ferndale Police Department on East Nine Mile Road. Police also received a 911 call from another witness to the crime. Police said the victim appeared to suffer minor injuries.

With a description of the robber, police found a man matching the description and pursued him on foot. The suspect threw away a .32-caliber revolver during the chase, Wilson said, before police caught the suspect on West Woodland Street.

The suspect, whom police identified as David Swanigan, 36, was on parole following a previous narcotics charge, Wilson said. According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, that conviction occurred in 2011; Swanigan has two prior narcotics convictions from 2005 and 1998.

Swanigan was charged with armed robbery, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison; possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, a two-year felony; and felon in possession of a firearm, which could carry a five-year sentence.

Swanigan was arraigned April 4 at the 43rd District Court in Ferndale and a preliminary exam was scheduled for 1 p.m. April 13. A court-appointed attorney would be named at that time for Swanigan, and his bond was set at $500,000 cash/surety.

Wilson said anyone who witnesses a crime should get involved, but it doesn’t necessarily mean getting physically involved.

“I guess it is a case-by-case scenario with how involved you get, but minimally people should make the effort to contact the police,” he said.

“We generally live in a society where we rely on each other, and we cannot rely just on the police to come by, so we need to help each other and take steps as reasonably as we can. You do not want to walk into a situation where you could get yourself hurt or killed, but this man did what any decent person would do.”