Citizen holds man at gunpoint after seeing him swing knife in fight

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SALT LAKE CITY -- A civilian risked his own life to save a man from being attacked by a suspect with a knife in Salt Lake City.

The incident occurred on March 17 at the intersection of North Temple and 800 West.

"I was just in my car on North Temple, I saw a guy pull a knife on another guy, a fight ensued, the guy with the knife was swinging it several times at the unarmed person," said Nick, the civilian, who declined to give his last name.

Nick, a retired police officer, decided to step in, and pull his gun on the suspect.

"I told him to lay down on the ground and he stayed there," said Nick.

Witnesses had no idea was what happening. They began demanding that Nick put down the gun. One witness videotaped most of the incident.

"He's not going to do nothing put the gun down, he's not going to do nothing, put the gun down," said one witness in the video.

While Nick called 911 the witnesses continued urging him to lower the weapon.

"At this point an accident could happen, he's on the floor, there's a bunch of us out here, there's no need for you to be pointing a gun to a man's back whose face is on the floor," said another witness in the video.

Nick admitted he was a little worried things could escalate out of control and the witnesses may try to approach him.

"It could have turned out ugly if I didn't have experience or I didn't have the training," said Nick.

Nick said he was most surprised about what the witnesses didn't do.

"Nobody called 911, nobody reported it, they are all worried about getting video so they could be famous or whatever they are," said Nick.

At one point the suspect pleaded for his life.

"Don't shoot me," the suspect is heard saying in the video.

"I'm not gonna," Nick is heard saying in response.

"You are too, get that gun off me," said the suspect.

Nick had the gun on the suspect for about two minutes before police arrived on scene and handcuffed the man.

Salt Lake City Police recommend civilians don't get involved in these altercations and instead focus on being a good witness and call police.

"Sometimes people get involved and sometimes we catch people because they get involved but we never suggest that because we don't like to see people get hurt," said spokeswoman Robin Heiden with Salt Lake City Police.

However, Nick said if it happened again, he'd do the same thing.

"I see somebody in need of help it's just the right thing to do, the wrong thing to do would of been to turn my back and have somebody be stabbed because I didn't do anything," said Nick.

Police later found out the cause of this altercation. The man with the knife had his bicycle stolen and he was attempting to get it back from the alleged thief. Both of those men were questioned by police, but neither of them decided to press charges against each other.

61 comments

  • bob

    As for the “advice” from the cops: WHAT???? Let a guy with a knife go ahead and stab someone? So the cops can stop by and draw a chalk outline around the corpse?

    The citizen did exactly the right thing. Oh, by the way: HE’S A RETIRED COP!!! Duh! He did what he’s trained to do.

    This society belongs to We the People, not the government. Our right to keep and bear arms is based on English Common Law, which not only forbade agents of the government from being armed but actually REQUIRED citizens to carry arms if they traveled away from home. If there was trouble the required armed resistance it was the job of the citizens, whose society it was, to handle it.

    We need more of this mentality, not less.

  • Kdc

    Police should know the law before they complain about people flexing their rights. The civilian was well within his right to do what he did.

    • MamaJ

      I agree KDC. Sometimes the police aren’t familiar with, or aware of, their own laws, and/ or rights, meaning that they don’t always know their own boundaries or limits. Therefore, when they then try to intercede upon a Civilian and their rights, it wreaks havoc, and not just with that one Civilian, but within the entire Community and usually, due to the fact that, that particular officer was not allowing a specific Civilian to practice or partake in what the law states are, their “legal rights”, and in which the law also states, that they’re allowed.

      • Brian

        Title 77 Utah Code of Criminal Procedure
        Chapter 7 Arrest, by Whom, and How Made
        Section 3 By private persons

        77-7-3. By private persons.
        A private person may arrest another:
        (1) For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence; or
        (2) When a felony has been committed and he has reasonable cause to believe the person arrested has committed it.

      • heather

        Paul, are you aware of your Federal Rights? I am not talking state rights bc they differ from state to state. However you have Federal Rights as well, and Federally speaking the retired police officer (or citizen) is well within his rights to carry. Its the people who are afraid of the gun that say things like “guns kill ppl” I got news for ya, if that were the case then spoons make ppl fat, cuz you gotta eat right? NO! ppl kill ppl, just like people decide to over eat.

      • Bert Sierra

        As a retired bartender, I’ve removed a knife or two from folks (oddly enough in other bars — not my own) before things got out of control. In my case I used my wits and arms and not a gun, but from what I can see (and I am fiercely left-wing and pro gun-control), the ex-cop seems within his rights and acting in a cool and calm manner in defusing a dangerous situation.

        From his comments, where he may have behaved differently was in how he dealt with onlookers who wanted him to put down the gun. I’m first-aid certified, and if you want 911 called you get someone else to do it rather than take your attention off the victim (or in this case, the perp). That would have given them a purpose and gotten across the idea that you DID want the police to come so you could put your gun away. That would have been a positive response, but in the heat of the moment may not have occurred to Nick.

        Despite my comment about being pro-gun control, I laud those who act responsibly with guns, though I would never feel confident about my own ability to carry a gun.

      • Brad

        Um I’m pretty sure he was within his federal rights which by the way superceed any state laws or rights and it is with in federal law for any citizen witnessing a crime committed against another has the right to make a citizens arrest using necessary means and the last time I looked most states in the U.S. has a similar law to this. I just studied this in my criminal justice class in case you feel like arguing that point which you have the right to do. Paul

    • Orange_Bic

      Apparently the cops think they’re military now, and have forgotten that they themselves are a civilian organization. I’m quite happy to see he did the right thing and got involved, because I can’t help but wonder if the cops would’ve just shown up and shot him or something.

      Just the world we live in, though.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        Time to crawl back into your hole ORANGE-BIC. The police get a lot more enjoyment in taking pukes like yourself down, handcuffing them, and then watching them ponder their fate as they are taken to jail. Less paperwork, and a lot more satisfaction.

  • B-rad

    At least this “citizen” was disaplained enough to hold the man at bay, if the cops had seen this this man would have been dead…. Seeing the proof and prior shooting by police, I’ll take take the now retired cop, civilian. Anyone “protecting them self with a knife when the other doesn’t have one, is still wrong” as far as the dips in the back ground to busy filming to call police, you idiots need to not worry so much about the gun pointed at someone with a knife but be calling police!

  • JoeSnow

    “Salt Lake City Police recommend civilians don’t get involved in these altercations and instead focus on being a good witness and call police.”

    And someone could die in the time that it takes for the police to arrive. This is what the police recommend? That citizens stand by and watch while another human being is murdered in front of them? I think the police need some serious retraining if this is the kind of bad advice they give.

  • Malakie

    To those people that were telling him to put the gun away, you people are nuts. Don’t you get it? You do NOT give up your position until the threat is completely nullified. Had he put the gun away, that guy could have quickly jumped to his feet with his knife and stabbed someone right then and there.

    I am sick and tired of people who are like that… ‘oh put the gun away, he isn’t going to hurt anyone blah blah blah’

    And for those SAME whiners to sit there and NOT bother to help, call 911 but make sure they got it on video?!? WTF is the matter with you people?

  • Terry W

    Good for you Nick, you did the right thing and managed to get everyone home safely with no charges being filed, despite the numpty bystanders objections. Cheers!

  • Harry G

    In this situation given his training I would have done the exact same thing except being a retired federal police officer I still carry handcuffs in my backpack and would have gone one step further and handcuffed him while waiting for active duty law enforcement. I have done this and with my credentials in my wallet I would have taken action against a person who is acting in a threatening manner.

  • mike irish

    That is why you do not unsecured you weapon except in self defence… The other person is the criminal, stealing the pick, the guy with the knife was trying to protect himself and property…. The thief should have been laying on the ground too….
    Best thing to do is call police, and watch….
    If you pull your weapon on some one in an altercation, is placing your feet in their shoes. Which could cause the person pulling it be charged as an accessory to whatever crime that is being committed….
    Gotta be careful of such things….
    This man a retired officer was probably known by the other officers…. Trained abit more then most carrying a firearm.

  • drive school

    Kankakee, Iroquois, and Ford Counties are experiencing the same problems, which
    led the ISP to issue warnings against driving on “I-57 north of Bourbonnais and between Ashkum and Gilman,”
    as WGN is reporting. I was also up front about taking a snapshot of her and asking her
    to take one of me, clad in the appropriate sea crossing attire.
    A point worthy of being mentioned is that snow and ice make it difficult for brakes to come into play.

  • Thenewesjunkie

    The guy is a retired police officer. He took an oath years ago when he became a legal gun carrying peace officer. Some would say that even though he is retired he was still bound by that oath to get involved. The PD spokeswoman is correct. Everyday civilians should not get involved in any way other than calling 911 because they don’t have the training. Nick, however, has the training and did exactly what a licensed peace officer is supposed to do. Shame on the bystanders who made taking video a priority over calling 911. They are what’s wrong with society today.

  • sabilode

    The guy who did the arrest is losing his job at Rite Aid….he is a security guard there and because it happened on their clock they are letting him go!! It’s sooo wrong!

  • Don

    Excellent Job done by this “Retired” Officer. And thank’s too all you LOSER’S, who stood around worried more about getting video on your cell phones then calling 911, too get assistance for this Officer. Thank “GOD” he could do two things at once. LOSER’S !!!!!!!!!!

Comments are closed.