A Weymouth man snatched a gun out of a robber’s hand on a Chicago subway train over the weekend, police said.
Jean-Paul “JP” LaPierre was riding a CTA Blue Line train Sunday morning when he subdued the gunman, who was later identified as Tremaine Anderson, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department.
The 54-year-old Weymouth resident was on his way to run the Chicago Marathon when it happened. When the train stopped at Cumberland station, he stepped off and asked another passenger why so many runners were rushing off the train.
“He tells me, ‘There’s a guy at the front of the train with a gun. He has a gun and he’s robbing people,’” LaPierre said in a telephone interview with the Globe.
At that moment LaPierre thought of all the innocent people on the train, and the marathon runners who were looking forward to running the race, and here was this gunman threatening them. It was a heartless act that reminded him of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
“I got really angry,” he said.
That’s when LaPierre went after the gunman.
“I came right up behind him,” he said. “I have very good reflexes. I knew I could get to him.”
LaPierre said he saw the gun in Anderson’s hand and as he turned away, LaPierre reached for it.
“Right away I located the gun and got it away from him,” he said. “I put all my weight on him and pushed him against the door. I wasn’t going to let him go.”
In a video that was shot by another passenger and posted on WGN9, LaPierre can be seen tussling with Anderson and pinning him up against the doors of the train. When Anderson tried to get away, LaPierre yelled: “You don’t move! You don’t move...I’m not letting you go!”
LaPierre refused to let Anderson leave the train.
While the other passengers looked on, LaPierre asked them to get a police officer. And at one point LaPierre tried to hand the gun to a woman who appeared to be a CTA employee.
“Put the safety on that gun,” he said in the video.
“Honey, I have no idea how to do that,” she replied.
“Somebody put the safety on that gun,” LaPierre shouted, as he kept Anderson cornered against the doors.
Then he turned back to Anderson and said: “I’m a boxer. I’ll break your head in one punch.”
Chicago police credited LaPierre with disarming Anderson and holding him there until police arrived and placed him under arrest.
“Upon arrival, the CTA conductor handed the officers a weapon which had been recovered by a witness/victim, Jean LaPierre, who had been riding the CTA train,” Chicago police said in the statement. “LaPierre realized Anderson had been robbing people on the train. LaPierre then took the handgun from Anderson and prevented Anderson from escaping the train until CPD officers arrived and arrested Anderson,” the statement said.
Anderson, 30, was charged with armed robbery and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, according to police.
This isn’t the first time LaPierre has played the role of Good Samaritan.
In June 2015 LaPierre rescued a 1-year-old boy who was trapped in a car that crashed on Route 128 in Canton. The Humane Society of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ended up awarding LaPierre a bronze medal “for this lifesaving rescue,” said Elizabeth Nilsson, the executive director of the humane society.
Nilsson said the crash occurred at the junction of Interstate 93 and 95, and LaPierre stopped and ran over to the car. “He could hear a child’s cry and saw a woman trapped in the car,” she said. “He was helped by another driver who stopped. . . and he got the baby out.”
In an interview with WCVB-TV, LaPierre said he was driving home from his job at a bakery in West Roxbury when he saw the crushed car and wanted to help out.
“I think sometimes in life you are called upon and have to act,” he told WCVB-TV. “I just kept thinking we had to get that baby out. We had God on our side.”
And even more recently, in August 2019, LaPierre managed to wrangle an 8-foot-long Burmese python that was on the loose in Newton. On Aug. 24 Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller’s office wrote on Facebook that LaPierre was the “self proclaimed snake expert” who tracked down the missing pet python named Lightning. “He said the snake would not go far. . . He then found it in the yard that backs up to this owner’s yard,” Fuller’s Facebook post said. “He picked it up and walked it home to the owner.”
LaPierre said he has plenty of experience in dealing with snakes. He used to catch them as a kid, and later on, when he went off to college, he kept a pet python in his dorm room. He said students would bring their pet snakes to him whenever they got sick. “I was like the snake doctor on campus,” he said.
LaPierre’s Facebook page features the quote: “There are no great men, only ordinary men doing great things!” When he’s not at work (he manages a storage facility in South Boston) he enjoys running and collecting running memorabilia.
After disarming the gunman on the train Sunday morning, LaPierre ended up running the Chicago Marathon and then went to his favorite restaurant, the Exchequer Restaurant & Pub, after the race. Looking back on that eventful day, he was grateful that his encounter with the gunman happened when it did.
“Thank God that situation happened before the race,” he said.
LaPierre insists he’s not a hero.
“This city’s full of heroes. Every city is full of heroes,” he said. “I’m not a hero. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”