TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida man is accused of attempting to enter a strip club early Sunday while armed and wearing a black-and-red devil mask, authorities said. He was stopped by a former professional wrestler who was working security at the Tampa club.
Michael Marko Rudman, 44, of Largo, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; aggravated battery with a deadly weapon; and battery and purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm while under a risk protection order, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office online booking records.
According to a news release from the Tampa Police Department, Rudman attempted to enter the Mons Venus club at about 1:15 a.m. on Sunday. He was wearing the mask and walked toward the entrance to the club with a weapon in one hand and a flashlight in the other, police said.
At first, the security officer at the club, Manny Resto, 54, believed one of his co-workers was playing a joke on him, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“And I was ‘OK, it’s not Halloween. Maybe it’s some type of trick or gag,’ you know? Because I used to, I was a professional wrestler,” Resto told WTVT. “I mean, I know a lot of big guys. I’ve worked security for 30 years. I know a lot of bouncers. I thought it was one of my friends playing a trick on me and he didn’t say a word.
“And I was waiting for the punch line. Then all of a sudden he came right up to me and he was a very big man. Very big. I saw him raise his hand and he had a gun.”
Then the man who once wrestled as the “Puerto Rican Punisher” reacted quickly when he saw Rudman allegedly raise the weapon.
“I decided that he was not going to enter the club and hurt anybody,” Resto told the Times. “I wasn’t going to let this happen. I was not going to let him win.”
Danny Baham, another bouncer at the club, ran outside to help Resto, who had wrestled Rudman to the ground, according to the newspaper.
The altercation lasted for about one minute, but Resto and Baham said it felt like hours.
“I just saw the footage for the first time before I came here,” Baham told the Times. “I couldn’t believe that was that fast.”
Surveillance video shows Resto picking up the gun and allegedly pointing it at Rudman, according to the newspaper. A round discharged from the gun during the confrontation and lodged into the door of the club.
“So I concentrated on the gun and I grabbed his gun hand and his wrists with both hands, and I turned it towards him. And then we started, you know, banging,” Resto told WTVT. “What I wanted to do was get him on the ground and get the gun away from him. That was what I was trying to do when it happened.”
No one inside the club was hurt, police said. A third security guard sustained minor injuries.
“There is no question that the security guards who disarmed this suspect saved dozens of lives through their heroic acts, and I am thankful that our officers were able to take this individual into custody before he had the chance to carry out whatever he had planned,” Tampa police Interim Chief Lee Bercaw said in a statement. “We will continue to actively and thoroughly investigate this case to get a better understanding of what led up to this thwarted incident.”
Rudman remains in a Tampa jail, online records show. No bail has been set.