A man stealing bottles of vodka from a Crestwood grocery store probably didn't imagine a professional kickboxer and mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter would thwart him on his way out the door.
Jesse Finney said he headed to Schnucks in Crestwood around 7 p.m. on Dec. 21 to pick up some chocolate for his pregnant wife. As he neared the basket area, Finney noticed a female employee running after a man.
“I didn’t know if he had robbed the place, or if he’d assaulted somebody, I just saw her. He was pushing her off,” said Finney, who lives in Crestwood and owns Finney’s MMA/All In 1 Fitness.
Finney grabbed the man by the coat. When he resisted, Finney slammed him to the ground and subdued him in a hold until Crestwood police could arrive, Finney said.
As it turns out, the man had stashed several bottles of vodka before attempting to leave the store, Finney said. One of the bottles shoved in the man’s coat arm busted when he hit the ground.
The incident, which spanned just a few moments, was witnessed by a handful of other customers—as well as the seasonal bell-ringers at the store’s entrance, he said.
While Finney said he’d never intervened in this type of incident before, his actions weren’t a random act of bystander bravery. He's been trained as a professional boxer and MMA fighter, coached for Chuck Norris’ World Combat League, and was featured on Strikeforce on Showtime.
He also holds a kickboxing record of 23–0, a boxing record of 8–2, an amateur MMA record of 4-0, and a professional MMA record of 6–1.
Finney trains dozens of amateur and professional fighters in mixed martial arts, boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu and wrestling at Finney’s MMA/All In 1 Fitness at 9744 Watson Road in Crestwood. The club also offers classes in yoga and zumba, a boot camp challenge and children's classes.
“In the martial arts, it teaches you discipline and respect. If I wasn’t disciplined, I probably would have hurt the guy," Finney said. "Instead, I took him down and a bottle broke in his jacket. That’s what we really try to focus on at the gym here in Crestwood.
"My wife was like, ‘What if he had had a gun?’ but at the end of the day, I just acted on instinct. I’m not going to let a man push a woman. It was pretty amazing, I was able to stop him, and nobody got hurt,” Finney said.
Frank Arnoldy, deputy chief of the Crestwood Police Department, said he couldn't offer comment on Wednesday until after he reviewed the police report.
A loss prevention specialist with Schnucks confirmed that a customer apprehended a suspected shoplifter at the store.
“We do not encourage this type of intervention from our customers,” Lori Willis said. “Customer safety and teammate safety is our top priority.”
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