At approximately 8 PM on Sunday evening September 25th Upper Dublin Police Department requested assistance in locating one of their residents, a 30 year old male who was emotionally distraught and was threatening to commit suicide. County Radio provided further details, describing this male as 5’10”and approximately 270 pounds.
Just before midnight, Officer Gary Martinez observed a male fitting this description, and he stopped to talk with him in the area of Limekiln Pike and Elm Avenue. During this encounter, Officer Martinez attempted to verify his identification, while also attempting to counsel him and keep him calm. At this point, Sergeant Ozzie Toledo arrived on scene to provide back-up and to assist with taking him into protective custody.
When Sergeant Toledo and Officer Martinez were preparing to transport this individual, who up until this point remained very calm and cooperative, they advised him that they needed to conduct a pat-down search for weapons. As this was about to occur, the suspect suddenly pulled a fully-loaded .38 caliber revolver from his left pocket.
Officer Martinez, immediately shouted, “gun!!-gun!!,” and drew his weapon, pointing it at the suspect. Sergeant Toledo, who was in very close proximity to the suspect…and the gun, immediately grabbed the suspect’s left hand in an effort to disarm him or at the very least control the firearm.
Because this suspect was very strong and determined to take his own life, Sergeant Toledo was unable to remove the gun from his grip, but the sergeant did maintain control of his arm. As the struggle for the gun continued, Officer Martinez re-holstered his weapon and grabbed the suspect’s left forearm just above the gun. Both officers continued to wrestle with this distraught young man, as he would not let go of the firearm and repeated the words “shoot me! Please….Just shoot me!”
Sergeant Toledo then announced very loudly that he was going to fire the weapon….in essence emptying it to render it safe. Announcing his intentions at this point was critical, since it prepared Officer Martinez for the sequence of rounds that were about to be fired, and it prevented a potential tragedy, one that can occur from what is known as “sympathetic-fire.”
Sergeant Toledo then reached around the trigger guard, while the gun remained in the suspect’s tight grip, and fired all five rounds safely away from them into an unoccupied garage.
Officer Martinez and Sergeant Toledo continued to struggle with the suspect, and eventually were able gain control of him and take him into custody without any injuries.
The suspect was then transported to Abington headquarters for processing, and later, was transferred to a mental health facility for treatment.
This, ladies and gentlemen, was an example of outstanding police work, and their actions can be described as nothing less than HEROIC. Because each these officers had unique skills and training, not to mention a high level of physical fitness, they were able resolve this potentially deadly encounter…peacefully and save a man’s life. In a split-second, these officers found themselves in a position where they could have either taken a life or lost their own lives. Instead, they risked their own safety, exhibiting both Courage…… and….. Compassion and saved this gentleman’s life.
And in our business,…..there can be no greater calling or joy than saving another person’s life.
And the impact that these officers had on this man was never more evident to me then when I spoke to him the following morning.
I happened to be there when this gentleman was being released from our custody, when he very innocently asked me with tears running down his face, if I knew the two officers who saved his life the previous night. He asked me to get them a message…..he wanted me to apologize to them for what he put them through and THANK them for saving his life……….