The owner of the Hollywood Liquor store located at 114 Polo Park Blvd in Davenport, and some “good Samaritans” in the area, fought back against an armed robbery suspect and held the man until law enforcement arrived to take him into custody.
Around 3:50 p.m. on Friday, January 6, 2012, the suspect, later identified as Kenneth Leiner, DOB 2/11/1977, of 2216 Clementine Trail in Clermont, entered the Hollywood Liquor store and pointed a black handgun at Mrs. Arati Desai, who owns and operates the store with her husband, Yogi. The suspect demanded money from the register. Mrs. Desai, who became very distraught, called for her husband Yogi, who was at the back of the business. Mr. Desai approached the counter and, seeing the robbery in progress, immediately grabbed a baseball bat he keeps behind the counter.
As Desai raised the bat against Leiner, Leiner turned and fled out of the store on foot. Desai was able to strike Leiner on the head one time before he fled. Desai followed Leiner as he ran out of the store, bat in hand, yelling to the owner of the 19th Hole bar next door, John McNeely, that the man he was chasing had tried to rob him and had a handgun.
Without concern for his own safety, Mr. McNeely also began chasing Leiner. During the foot pursuit, the handgun fell out of Leiner’s jacket pocket and onto the ground. As Leiner and his pursuers ran through the parking lot of Center State bank and approached the intersection of Polo Park Blvd and US Hwy 27, Leiner stopped running, turned around, and faced Desai and McNeely. McNeely tackled Leiner to the ground, closely followed by Desai.
Four other men who were nearby and witnessed the pursuit – Shawn David, Kenneth Yarborough, Joseph Hallett, and Braddan Jackson – formed a circle around the men on the ground, further preventing the suspect’s escape. One of the men called 911, while Jackson walked back and retrieved the handgun dropped by Leiner, which turned out to be a black air soft pellet gun. Another bystander, John Leahy IV, who was at Center State Bank with Jackson, walked over to the suspect’s vehicle and retrieved the suspect’s personal information from within, joining the other men and putting the information with the gun to turn it over to law enforcement.
When PCSO deputies arrived, thanks to the proactive efforts of these citizens, they found a suspect in custody, the weapon he used to commit the crime, and the suspect’s identification.
Further investigation revealed Leiner’s extensive criminal history, under an alias of Aaron Howard: 9/19/03 – Sumter County Sheriff’s Office – Pass Counterfeit Prescription; 10/13/03 – Lake County Sheriff’s Office – Fraud/Obtain Controlled Substance by Fraud; 1/26/04 – Lake County Sheriff’s Office – Nonmoving Traffic Violation; 1/27/04 – Lake County Sheriff’s Office – VOP; 10/15/04 – Cape Coral Police Department – Larceny/Theft; 11/5/04 – Cape Coral Police Department – Burglary, Fraud (Illegal Use of Credit Card); 3/15/05 – Lee County Sheriff’s Office – Failure to Appear, Larceny; 10/8/05 – Cape Coral Police Department – Failure to Appear, Nonmoving Traffic Violation; 10/18/05 – Lee County Sheriff’s Office – Failure to Appear; 6/29/07 – Sumter County Sheriff’s Office – False ID, Unlawfully Acquire/Possess Controlled Substance; 7/25/10 – Lake County Sheriff’s Office – Battery/Domestic Violence.
Leiner was booked into the Polk County Jail and charged with one count Armed Robbery.
"Wow, talk about teamwork -- our citizens did everything but write the report and take this robber to jail for us. I'm so proud of these people who risked their lives to do what was right, and I will formally recognize them at a future date. Obviously, Leiner didn't know he was doing, trying to rob a store in Polk County. We all work together to fight crime here -- that is why crime is at a historic 39 year low. We don't play in this county!" - Sheriff Grady Judd