Pulitzer Winner Gets Tough on Crime

By: Shawn Moynihan

For Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Kim Komenich, fighting crime is evidently all in a day’s work.

A former photojournalist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Komenich — who won the 1987 Pulitzer for spot news photography — says he was on line at a Wells Fargo Bank in San Jose in April to get a cashier’s check when a man beside him said to the adjoining teller, “I have a gun, give me all your money.

“At that point, he was concentrating on his teller,” Komenich recalls. “I hadn’t intended to do anything but knowing what I heard him say, I knew this guy was having a bad day, and I didn’t want it to get worse for him or anyone else.”

Komenich, who stands at 6’2”, sidled over behind the man and bear-hugged him. “I don’t think he ever really saw my face,” says the former Chronicle shooter, who held the alleged robber, later identified as Victor Anthony Fernandes, for nearly four minutes until authorities could cuff him. As the bank fell silent, he says, “It was kind of a Dog Day Afternoon kind of scenario, where everything had ceased.”

“It was strange, because instead of being paid to witness something, it was odd to be a part of it,” adds Komenich, who left the Chronicle in April 2009. “Normally, it’s my job to be a fly a fly on the wall. This time, I was a fly in the soup.”

 

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