Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Heroic Worker Faces 6th Surgery; He Was Shot Trying to Prevent Robbery

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Heroic Worker Faces 6th Surgery; He Was Shot Trying to Prevent Robbery

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, Clay County Line staff writer

Bill Lutz says he doesn't remember any pain when the robber shot him at close range three times, including one .38 caliber slug that tore through his stomach and another that mangled his intestines.

The 49-year-old retired Navy chief, who faces a sixth surgery Friday, Dec. 12, on his long road to recovery, just recalls slamming the gunman's head into a door and wrestling on the ground with him at Foremost Liquors and Wines, a package store at the Roadhouse on Blanding Boulevard.

Lutz had worked there for 10 years when the place was robbed shortly before midnight April 15. A man wearing an article of clothing over his head and brandishing a long-barrel .38 caliber revolver ordered a clerk to give him a cash box from the package store, then ran toward an exit door where Lutz tackled him from behind.

"I shoved his face right into the door and then we fell, with me on top of him and my arms around his belly trying to get the cash box," Lutz said in a recent interview at the Roadhouse.

But the fight was brief. Lutz was left bleeding from four bullet holes (three entry wounds and one exit wound) while the gunman, who also was injured in the struggle, left a trail of blood several hundred feet to where his getaway car was parked.

Investigators with the Clay County Sheriff's Office have questioned plenty of people about the crime, including witnesses and several individuals tentatively described as potential suspects. But no arrest has been made.

"Our investigators have a half-dozen potential suspects and are continuing to look into all of them," said Mary Justino, spokeswoman for the department. "A blood sample taken at the scene is believed to be that of the suspect and has been processed in order to obtain the man's DNA fingerprint."

She said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will run the sample through its statewide DNA database, which contains DNA samples of thousands of known criminals in Florida, to see if it matches up with any other samples.

Lutz, meanwhile, is not bitter or obsessive about the man who shot him. On the contrary, after five surgeries including a colostomy and a skin graft from his right leg to his stomach, he never lost his sense of humor.

"I'm going back into surgery next month for the big one," he said. "I haven't had to buy toilet paper in a long time."

But just because he can joke about it doesn't mean he doesn't want the man who shot him put behind bars. He does, he said, to "get him off the streets." But his positive attitude doesn't depend upon whether his assailant is captured or not.

"Nothing's going to get me down," said Lutz, who joined the Navy in 1972 right out of high school in Martins Ferry, Ohio. "I can't see walking around bummed out all the time. …

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