Pa. gun owner tells harrowing story of saving officer from attack

The man saw a group of almost 40 high school students surrounding an officer while some grabbed for his service weapon

By Stephanie Farr
Philadelphia Daily News

UPPER DARBY, Pa. — An Upper Darby gun owner who pulled his firearm to save a police officer from an attack by a group of teens on Friday said the incident has left him shaken.

"It was scary to do it," the good Samaritan gun owner said. "Would I do it again? Of course, but I don't want to have to."

In an article in the Daily News on Tuesday, Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood detailed the terrifying incident and said if not for the gun owner's actions, the officer would "have been dead meat."

The gun owner spoke with the Daily News on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity, because he fears retribution.

According to the 35-year-old good Samaritan, he was on Wayne Avenue near Marshall Road around 3 p.m. Friday when he saw a group of 30 to 40 high school kids surrounding an Upper Darby cop who was trying to break up a fight between two teen boys.

The gun owner said at first, the cop seemed to have the situation under control because he had grabbed the two fighting teens and had one in each hand.

"Then, in a matter of seconds, two to three other teens who were there jumped on the officer's back," the man said. "It was scary. Very scary."

A million thoughts raced through the man's mind.

"My thought process was a ton of stuff in a short period of time," he said. "The first thing I did was yell 'Get off!'"

The good Samaritan said he repeatedly yelled "Get off!" so loudly that he lost his voice as a result, but all his yelling did no good.

"They were doing what they were doing and they weren't going to stop for me," he said of the teens. "So then I thought 'Do I go over and get physically involved?' but then I could have gotten jumped too."

The gun owner, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, said he decided to draw his gun from its holster when he saw the teens' hands on the officer's waist, near his service weapon.

"I said to myself 'This time something bad is going to happen,'" he said.

According to police and the gun owner, the good Samaritan never pointed his gun at the teens, but he did let them see it in his hands. When one boy noticed the man's gun, he "whispered it down the lane" to the other teens and they all took off running, the gun owner said.

The only teens who did not run were the two the officer was miraculously able to hold onto throughout the incident after nabbing them for their involvement in the initial fight.

"He was an amazing human being," the good Samaritan said of the cop.

Those two teens were charged with aggravated assault on police and related offenses and were remanded to Delaware County's juvenile detention facility in Lima, Chitwood said.

The gun owner said the situation gave him an even greater respect for police officers and the split-second decisions they must make.

"I already had a ton of respect for law enforcement to begin with, but it brought it to a new level," he said. "When you hear about 'Oh, a police officer did this and this' you don't realize all the stuff he had to think about before he made the decision he did."

The good Samaritan said he carries a handgun because it's his right to do so, but he never pulled it out of the holster before Friday.

"If you're going to carry, it's for protection, you don't do it for power," he said. "There are that small minority of people who carry because they want to be a cowboy and pull their gun out, but I would never want to do that again."

The gun owner said his body shook the entire day following the incident. When asked what he thought of some people calling him a "hero" for his actions, he shook his head.

"I don't like that connotation of hero, I did what I thought was right," he said. "We all know guns do a lot of harm but they also do a lot of good too, and the good part is not always shown, so I'm glad that's happening in this case."

The good Samaritan gun owner then turned his thoughts to the teenagers who had the gall and stupidity to jump a police officer.

"It's just sad," he said. "What these kids did will affect them for the rest of their lives, and it was all over something dumb."

Copyright 2016 the Philadelphia Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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