Police, After Man Holds Suspect at Gunpoint: We Need Witnesses, Not Heroes

Let’s pretend that you’re driving down the street one day and you see a fight on the side of the road. One of the individuals has a knife, and he begins swinging it at the other, unarmed combatant. You don’t know who is the good guy and who is the bad guy but you know that things can turn ugly rather quickly. As a licensed concealed carry permit holder, you have a firearm on your person. Do you intervene? Do you stop and watch? Or do you just keep on driving?

Nick, a Salt Lake City man who declined to give his last name, was in that exact situation on March 17.

“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,” Nick told Fox 13.

Nick, a retired police officer, did what he thought was right. He stopped, walked up to the scene, drew his gun, and pointed it at the knife-wielding suspect.

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

Nick then called the police, still holding the man at gunpoint. Meanwhile, several bystanders began to film the incident. Shortly thereafter, several of the witnesses began instructing Nick to lower the weapon.

“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.

While Nick was on the phone with 911, the pleas continued.

“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.

However Nick wasn’t about to capitulate to their demands. He was in control of the situation.

“It could have turned out ugly if I didn’t have experience or I didn’t have the training,” said Nick.

He also said that no one else made an attempt to de-escalate the situation or contact authorities.

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

When Salt Lake City Police arrived, the officers handcuffed the suspect. Upon questioning the suspect, he claimed that he was trying to retrieve a stolen bicycle from the other man. After questioning the alleged thief, he apparently denied any wrongdoing. Both men declined to press charges.

As a result of the incident, police wanted to remind the public that it’s best not to get involved, suggesting as Fox 13 reported, the police need witnesses, not heroes.

“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.

But Nick has no regrets about how he responded.

“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.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you think Nick did the right thing? Should he have just kept on driving? Should he have just recorded the incident on his cell phone like the other witnesses?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 52 comments… add one }
  • jd November 10, 2017, 12:48 pm

    Not sure since I am not a LEO but I kinda think the first thing a responding LEO would do is tell the guy with the knife to drop it and lie down on the ground. Stop the deadly force attack first. And then sort things out. Who is attacking who, who is in the most right. Isn’t this what the CCW holder did? I am thinking if I am either of the two fighting I would like the law to step in and sort out who is right/wrong. Personally I would not be trying to stab someone for stealing my bike. I might be defending myself from someone who had tried to steal my bike and I would still be happy to see the law show up. As said the PD response time is around 5 minutes. More than likely someone would be lying on the ground bleeding out before that happened. BTW, time to bleed out after a major artery is cut is about 30-45 seconds. If you just watched someone get stabbed and then approached to try to stop the bleeding, pressure, tourniquet, whatever you tried, there is someone still involved with a bloody knife standing behind you. Does this info change the situation any?

  • Dr.Duke April 2, 2015, 9:23 am

    Notice how the bystanders didn’t say anything to the guy with the knife. There was no “Put the knife down man”. I bet the bystanders bought in to the Ferguson “it’s open season on blacks and we must stop it” lie. They don’t get involved in chaos. When they saw law and order creeping in to their neighborhood, the resisted it out of habit.

    • vincent smith April 28, 2017, 3:37 pm

      He could have had the guy drop the knife ,holster his gun and keep a safe distance between him and the guy that had the knife then find out what was going on.======one of the questions usually on every oral interview board when you take the police officer test is you come around the corner and there is a guy sitting on top of a woman choking her===what do you do ?====then
      after you find out that the guy is undercover police officer and this woman had just killed a guy and he is trying to subdue her before he passes out because she shot him in the stomach and he had wrestled the gun away from her. ( think on that one for a while )

  • ThinkLonger March 31, 2015, 8:54 pm

    Personally I would rather have “a hero” at least attempt to save my life than a bunch of witnesses watching me get stabbed. I don’t see how pulling a knife to get a stolen bike back would make him the ‘good guy’.

    In cases like this you have to look at what actually happened, and what actually happens in similar cases. To the risks outweigh the benefits? Are more people saved or killed in these situations? I suggest reading John Lott’s research on this.
    The vast majority of permit holders are extremely law abiding and tend not to pull guns on others without a high confidence level that they are doing the right thing. (http://crimepreventionresearchcenter.org/2015/02/cprc-in-fox-news-police-are-extremely-law-abiding-but-concealed-handgun-permit-holders-are-even-more-so/)

  • Steve Bonning March 31, 2015, 3:13 pm

    Since he felt obligated to intervene, what made him decide who was the aggressor? The man with the knife may just as easily been the one attacked and defending himself. An intervention that would be just for BOTH parties, since there’s no way at the time to determine aggressor or victim, would have been to detain BOTH parties. Morally, the man may have felt the need to do something, but he could have inadvertently aided the BAD guy by making a wrong presumption.

    • Russ March 31, 2015, 11:53 pm

      I guess you had to be there.

  • Darwin Williams March 31, 2015, 2:43 pm

    The accident waiting to happen. While intervening in a situation like the one described in the article may seem like a noble and gracious gesture, it also lends itself to a situation that’s been hovering for quite a while and waiting to happen. That is, what happens when the next passer by sees the man with the gun pointing it at the man with the knife and decides to help the knife person? And so on until you’ve got a street full of people all thinking their doing the right thing in helping. Once he pulled his firearm and got involved he also opened himself up for attack from someone else, including responding police who have a tendency lately to shoot first and make up a statement afterwards, especially if it’s an unarmed person of color. If you truly feel a need to get involved my suggestion would to have some vested interest in doing so. That is, it’s a family member, loved one or a really good friend whom you know is on the receiving end of some injustice. Imagine what would have happen if a family member of the knife holder had showed up with his or her CCW and saw what was happening. Gun fight? Bystanders shot? What if it turned out that the other person was trying to rob the knife person and he was only defending himself? The result is the robber gets away while you’re holding the innocent defender at death threat. In this situation the only winning grace is that the person with the firearm was a former LEO himself (as am I) and most likely had instinctively assessed the situation much more than the average permit holder. Whether condoned or not by your local police department, you are literally taking a huge risk by getting involved in any situation of upholstering your firearm. Do so literally only as an absolute last resort, and then be prepared for what could be the legal and financial battle of your life.

    • Russ March 31, 2015, 11:50 pm

      Handling the danger you mentioned, is what makes him a hero.
      Most people aren’t able to handle it.
      He did, and with no hesitation or regret.
      Believe it or not, some people are good at what they do, and fully aware of their surroundings
      But ya, pussys, please don’t try this at home.

    • JoeUSooner May 26, 2015, 12:34 pm

      Hmmm … In this situation, a passerby would see a man spreadeagled on the sidewalk, with another man holding him at gunpoint. The standing man is not attacking the man on the ground, is not shooting the man on the ground, is not beating or kicking the man on the ground…

      You may not be, but I am (and virtually all handgun license holders are!), smart enough to figure out that – in this specific circumstance – the man on the ground in simply in controlled custody. I might pause long enough to find out if the gun-holder needs me to call 911, since his hands are obviously occupied, but I would in NO case draw my weapon to replay the Gunfight at OK Corral.

      Despite your unwarranted fears, handgun license holders have – for two decades, and as certified by both the FBI and the Secret Service – proven themselves to be THE single most responsible, law-abiding, and safe(!) demographic segment of our entire society… more so even that police officers.

    • Willie-O January 26, 2018, 8:37 am

      Darwin, you have obviously been getting your MIS-information from CNN. You stated “he also opened himself up for attack from someone else, including responding police who have a tendency lately to shoot first and make up a statement afterwards, especially if it’s an unarmed person of color.” WHAT ??? Full-disclosure, I too am a former LE officer, so I’m sure that makes me biased (if not prejudiced) in the eyes of all the good liberals. Regardless, I keep up with current events, so I challenge you to provide (1)…..ONE example of a responding police officer shooting an unarmed person of color and making up a statement afterwards. Even in the event you can, which is possible because cops aren’t perfect, that isn’t even the point. The point and where I take issue is that your comment would have people believe that there is a widespread pattern of police officers over-reacting (or worse) and shooting unarmed people of color and making up statements to cover their actions afterwards. I am calling that out for what it is – BULLSHIT !!

  • Russ March 31, 2015, 2:08 am

    The cops don’t want you to be a hero.
    But Nick couldn’t help it, he is one.
    He’s virtuous, and his character is above and beyond the average citizen.
    Did you notice how calmly he and the LEO handled a difficult situation?
    Nick is a great American, and a rarity these days.
    A commendation is in order for him by his community
    So, what are my thoughts?
    I would like to think I would act exactly the way he did.

  • Bob N. March 30, 2015, 6:32 pm

    According to a 2005 SCOTUS ruling the police are under NO OBLIGATION to protect you, so do whatever it is you have to do to protect yourself.

  • CallNineOneOne March 30, 2015, 4:13 pm

    Replace the unarmed man with a love one…Now, what would you do?
    I would do exactly what this ccw holder did.
    All lives are important.

  • Tootie March 30, 2015, 3:58 pm

    That’s the problem, the police are there 15 to 20 minutes after you need them.

  • Christopher March 30, 2015, 3:32 pm

    The citizens are the CRIMINALS in today’s society….how dare these imbeciles intervene into our affairs and do our jobs for us.

  • KSDeputy March 30, 2015, 2:12 pm

    The man was a trained, retired peace officer. He should have told the unruly crowd that. I am as well, and I would not sit there and watch a man get knifed either. I carry my .45, badge, cuffs, everything I needed to do my job. I did it for 30 years. The statement from the active police officer was uncalled for, maybe he did not know Nick was a retired officer. If he did and said that he should be reprimanded for it.

  • gc45colt March 30, 2015, 1:34 pm

    You have to love today’s society when a crisis occurs no matter if it’s an accident, a fire, or a fight, rather than call 911 or God forbid aid someone, we grab our cell phones and video tape it for YouTube.

  • frank c March 30, 2015, 12:09 pm

    the police are upset because a citizen did their job for them

  • frank c March 30, 2015, 12:07 pm

    the police are just upset because a law abiding gunowner did their job for them

  • joshua3 March 30, 2015, 10:59 am

    what he did was right.people around him.was wrong on pleading with the guy to lower his firearm.when the man with ccw wasnt at the scene while the two are engage in a fight one armed with a knife and the other none.those people around while the fight going on did nothing at all,not even call 911.mostlikely all of this concern people r just standing there & watch,like watching UFC match on cable.then came along a man with proper training and seen the fight goin on and have a good judgement that if nobody intervene soon these would go ugly ,ugly.enough to get one killed.the actions that ccw man on the suspect with the knife and the way he restrain that man with the knife to have upper control was right.if he listen to those people who done nothing but watch,the man with gun may have let the other guy gain upper hand and may also gain access to his firearm.not good!.to people who did nothing but stand and watch like watching a stage play,duhhh,duhhh.suddenly became concern when the fight were put to stop by a person who has a guts to do what is right and what is wrong.thumbs up to u dude,well done.

  • jim March 30, 2015, 10:49 am

    Some cautions:
    One thing I have learned from the anti-gun nuts.
    They have advised me that they WILL sue me if I even pull a gun to defend them. Even if I save their life.
    From now on, I will NOT pull my gun in public unless it is a DIRECT Life/Death Immediate threat to “ME”.
    Otherwise I “may” call 911 for them, maybe not. But I am not pulling my gun or getting involved in any way.
    Unless it is a woman and baby under attack and maybe not even then – hard to really know who the bad guy/girl really is.
    Maybe the woman with the baby previously shot or cut someone that I did not see.
    Even though I am an Instructor and trained competition shooter(3Gun and Combat Pistol).
    Maybe the guy with the knife here had previously been shot at or cut, who knows?

  • Florentino mercado March 30, 2015, 10:22 am

    he did the right thing to stop the man with the knife some time you call the police by the time they get there is all over it’s too late
    but you need to be careful for situations like that

    • Florentino mercado March 30, 2015, 10:28 am

      that happened to me but it was different it was a young lady stabbing the other one with the knife so what I did I use my karate skills and I took the knife away from the girl and I say the other ones life thank’s God

  • MeeesterPaul March 30, 2015, 9:35 am

    if that was my daughter that needed help I would sure be happy to have someone like Nick around.
    What we ‘Nicks” have to worry about is when the police show up. Then you have to hope you’re dealing with the cops that empty their magazines without a hit.

  • fred March 30, 2015, 9:14 am

    Government at all levels does not like people who are not dependent on them – it threatens their very existence.

  • Tim March 30, 2015, 8:28 am

    when seconds count, police are only minutes away…

  • justyouandmetalking March 30, 2015, 7:00 am

    1-The question everyone needs answers to is what happens to the CWP in a case where they intervene and end up having to use deadly force shooting and injuring/killing the person they draw on(never draw your weapon if you are not prepared to fire it)? For example in this case it seems there would be a chance that, A-the ‘witnesses’ would report the CWP as the bad guy/agressor and he would be the one arrested and charged with a crime or B- the guys ‘friends’ turn on and attack the ‘hero’ who then has to shoot multiple people and/or ends the victim. 2-Contrary to one other comment, although this example is one way it is used, I believe CWP is for protecting yourself and your family when someone is endangering you. In that case I don’t care what the consequences are even if I am charged with a crime as my personal safety and that of my family come first. 3-Hard choice to make in this videoed situation but this guy was a former law officer and ‘knew’ what he was doing.

  • PudbertSavannahGA March 30, 2015, 6:52 am

    “police wanted to remind the public that it’s best not to get involved” ? ? ?

    What an ign0rant thing to say !
    What about the guy ‘without’ the knife getting hurt ?

    I guarantee you that police in GA would never say something that st00pid…
    Not to mention the clueless bystanders telling him to lower his gun,, they don’t know that the guy laying face-down didn’t have a concealed gun himself or not..
    He lowers his gun, the guy on the ground pulls his own gun and shoots him before he can get back on target….

    Must be more liberals in Utah than I thought.

  • Jack March 30, 2015, 3:51 am

    As a retired LEO of 25 yrs I would probably done the exact same thing. It is better to have a fight stopped and no one injured and take a little harassment from the surrounding public than live on knowing that someone was hurt and you could have stopped it.
    I learned many decades ago, police do not stop crime for the most part, we/they only write the report after it has happened. Law enforcement is reactive and that is why there are dispatchers in every agency, to send officers after it has either began or already took place. Rarely do officers get dispatched to a call before it takes place. Think about that.
    Bravo and happily it all turned out okay.

  • Will Drider March 27, 2015, 8:55 am

    Obviously a retired policemen is well qualified to intervene in situations like this, having a CWP in and of itself does not. A very callous comment infering wittnessing an assault with a deadly weapon or a murder is better then stopping one.
    Remember it doesn’t always turn out good for the CWP holder who draws on a BG. Walmart last year. He didn’t know there was a second shooter and she killed the CWP holder.

    • MeeesterPaul March 30, 2015, 9:29 am

      “She” . . .

  • Nate March 26, 2015, 5:54 pm

    Just because one guy has a knife and one guy is unarmed doesn’t mean the guy with the knife is the badguy.

    Follow Nick’s own logic. if I walk up and see Nick with a gun on some dude who’s laying on the ground should I pull on him?

    You don’t know who the good guy is and who the bad guy is. Best to stay out of it unless you see a clear case of real assault where a person’s life is clearly in danger.

    • Early Ray March 30, 2015, 5:00 am

      This is the best analysis so far. The next guy driving by may see the good citizen with gun drawn as the bad guy and shoot him. Unfortunately, it will never be clear who the parties are in a situation like this. You take the chance of being shot yourself if you pull your weapon. I would never stand in tge open with

  • nobody2x March 26, 2015, 3:01 pm

    Because heroes belong overseas, not at home interfering with the domestic front. It hurts their feelings, and it’s just plain rude. They put in a lot of effort to get where they are, and honestly, no one likes getting their toes stepped on, or having their thunder stolen. If you want to play domestic hero, earn a badge like the rest of ’em. Besides, do you have any idea how much of a liability vigilantism is to a city, or what it does to the city’s insurance premiums and legal costs?? (which are paid for with your tax dollars by the way)

    Nick does, but he is a retired officer that has been trained to deal with this kind of situation and is therefore an exception to my argument.

    So, please, do yourself and everyone else a favor and honor the local garrisons requests for non-interference, or maybe see if they’ll work with you in creating a citizens brigade whose charter bylaws provide a release of liability on the part of the city and provides that the charter will entirely bear the cost and responsibility of their actions in assisting local law enforcement…

    oh that’s right, freeloaders don’t give two shits about citizenship, and vigilantes don’t play well with others.


    Our culture is so fucked up! It’s no wonder the world hates us Americans.

  • Scott Wallace March 26, 2015, 2:55 pm

    Good on him, he had the means and training to stop a potential death or injury and he acted. I think most police would say he did the right thing, at least privately. Even if the department isn’t liable if someone goes out and gets hurt, people might still blame the department and cause mistrust between the public and the department, which nobody wants (except criminals, maybe). That said, I don’t think they want people to get all puffed up about it and go around stepping into other people’s shit. If it’s a life and death sort of thing, yea, step in if you reasonably have a means to prevent an injury without further harm to yourself or others. Otherwise, probably better to just observe and report.

  • Thomas M Reyburn March 25, 2015, 5:45 pm

    Understand that the PD comment was written by their attorney and approved by the liability insurance carrier. The average 911 response time in metropolitan PDs is more than five minutes. Plenty of time for the subject to kill the victim. The “witnesses” appeared to be buddies of the subject and probably wanted to encourage his escape. They should be ignored as should all the crowd “homies” in this kind of film.

    • Elliott W March 26, 2015, 1:33 am

      I have to disagree, they carry no liability, even on bad advice. They also have no duty to protect ANYONE but themselves in all but a VERY few cases. The term WELL SETTLED comes to mind. They can get sued for their actions, true, but inaction is going to be tough.

      I do agree that in 99% of the cases they arrive far too late to do anything but collect statements and maybe take some evidence. I also agree that the subject on the ground should NOT have been allowed to get up. He can stay down till the police arrive. And the fact is that regardless of WHY, if you are the only one waving a knife around YOU are going to be the bad guy.

      I do find it interesting that NO ONE else called the police, I tend to think that this is evidence that they didn’t want the police involved which bolsters the position that they were his friends. The bystanders should be ignored, they are uninvolved.

  • Al March 25, 2015, 10:04 am

    Also those “bystanders” were his “homies” who wanted their fellow hoodrat released so he could run off. They are probably all Mexican or Central American illegal alien gang members. That was why they wanted the CCW holder to put his gun away and why neither of the two men pressed charges. They are here illegally (that’s a separate issue but would explain why).

    • Monsieur N. March 25, 2015, 9:43 pm

      What’s with all the generalized/derogative terms and assumptions?
      Why can’t they just be bebystanders, and Americans, for that matter?

      And as for Nick… Well, that was his decision. No harm. No foul. End of discussion.

    • Joe "The Mexican" March 30, 2015, 7:44 am

      Why do you generalize and assume that all Latinos are gang members? Did you get “abused” at school by my cousin Josr? Jajajaja you Racist prick!!

    • Joe "The Mexican" March 30, 2015, 7:45 am

      Why do you generalize and assume that all Latinos are gang members? Did you get “abused” at school by my cousin Jose? Jajajaja you Racist prick!!

  • john March 25, 2015, 10:00 am

    Nick took control of situation nobody got hurt I think he was right in doing so

    • RogueBlackheart March 25, 2015, 11:35 pm

      I agree 100%. The whole point of CCW is to control situations like this.

  • Al March 25, 2015, 9:50 am

    Your headline in misleading. The MSM does not necessarily speak for the rank and file police officer. They are experts at putting words in your mouth. It was a “REPORTER” (propagandist) who said: “…police need witnesses not heroes”. The police spokeswoman didn’t say that: She was only repeating boilerplate departmental policy: Call us, get out of the way and we’ll do the dirty work. And naturally, the guy with the knife would have been killed on the spot and become another padded-on, anti-gun statistic to be spun by the news media; whereas this outcome will be statistically ignored – that the retired officer and CCW permit holder saved one man from being stabbed to death and the suspect from being killed by the police.

    • S.H. Blannelberry March 25, 2015, 10:56 am

      Hey Al,

      Yeah, you’re right! I just went back and watched it. I changed the titling and took the quotes off the “police need witnesses, not heroes.” It’s not a direct quote from the officer.

      However, I do still believe that the spirit of that message rings true in this case based on what the spokeswoman said. We “never suggest that” people get involved is tantamount to saying, “we’d rather have you watch and report as opposed to intervening.”

      • Justin March 25, 2015, 8:14 pm

        In fairness, they HAVE to say that. If they said “if you can intervene, feel free” and a good Samaritan was injured or killed, the department and the city they represent would be sued to holy hell.

        • Elliott W March 25, 2015, 10:22 pm

          I have to disagree, the department can’t successfully be sued. Literally, they have no duty to protect ANYONE but themselves. If they give you bad advice, oops, still not liable. If they arrive too late, oops, oh well, still not liable. If they see a crime and STILL don’t stop it, oops, still not liable. Now if you are in their custody then they are responsible for you, but there are rare circumstances where this is true. They do have a care not to be reckless when they DO act but failure to act or give bad advice doesn’t rise to that level..

          In short, no matter what advice they give, you are on your own legally. They are not liable.

          • Jason March 27, 2015, 2:30 am

            To further what Elliot said..

            About 10 years I was pulled over for speeding and issued a ticket. (it happened to be my second in a year) and the LEO wrote the ticket as if it was my first. (if he didn’t I would have to appear in court and not just mail in the fine)

            LEO then said to me, “I am writing this as a first offense ticket. Just mail in the fine money and all is good. ”

            Months later a sheriff was at my door and told me a judge put a ardent on me for failure to appear because of the ticket. Went in front of the judge and guess what he said?

            “it is your responsibility to know what you are suppose to do not the LEO job to tell you. “

      • MSG John Laigaie March 30, 2015, 12:16 pm

        So……you are not really reporting facts, you are giving us “your opinion”?

        Please stick to facts and leave your “opinions” to yourself.

    • Begladicarry March 26, 2015, 4:48 am

      Ah, the ignorance and idiocy of the general public. Everyone telling him to put the gun down had no training and should keep their mouths shut. Your “wisdom” is useless. He did everything right, and it’s obvious the police in that city enjoy dealing with victims and crimes than they do seeing a situation diffused for them. Any police officer that would actually say a quote like that is an idiot.

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