The theme of this year’s Ontario Police Week is “Proudly Supporting Our Police”. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate theme as I share this real life story about a recent life-threatening incident involving our North Bay Police Service and a few good Samaritans.
It was the evening of Sunday, February 10, 2019, a blustery, cold and dark winter night here in North Bay. My fiancée and I were driving down Main St and as we approached the intersection at John St, I could see the vehicles in front of us were completely stopped, on a green light. “Why is traffic stopped on the green light?”. That’s when we saw him.
A young man was yelling and screaming in the middle of the intersection and blocking all traffic. You can tell something is very wrong when it’s -30 degrees outside and someone’s screaming and running around in and out of traffic with no coat on.
Suddenly our “John Doe” bolted off the road sprinting straight towards the Mac’s convenience store parking lot on the corner (now a Circle K convenience store). I don’t know if it was drugs, mental illness, alcohol, or a combination of factors, but one thing was certain, at that moment, John Doe was a danger to himself and anyone unfortunate to come into his path.
“He’s going to hurt or kill someone or himself,” I said and then…Oh no … The situation just went from bad to worse, John Doe just burst into the convenience store. We pull off Main St into the store parking lot so we could call 911 and make sure the store clerk was ok. Too late. Like a bull in a china shop, John Doe came crashing thru the doors back outside still screaming and yelling, now making his way onto Oak St.
Before we can call 911, I saw another man outside the store on his cell phone. Let’s call him “Cellphone Guy”. He’s calling for help. I could tell by how excited he was and could almost read his lips as he motioned in John Doe’s direction. I turned around and there was an NBPS cruiser stopped at the lights on main. I began waving and flailing my arms to get his attention. If you can picture Shrek in a black coat doing jumping jacks at a gas station in the middle of winter, that’s what I imagined I looked like that night, but it didn’t matter, the police had seen me. The light changed, and the police cruiser turned the corner to the direction I was signaling and raced off towards the danger.
I could see the police officer inside the cruiser as he passed and… oh no, he was alone. Crap. I got back in the car and told my fiancée we couldn’t leave just yet because the officer was alone and this was too dangerous for him to be alone. We drove across the street to the ONR building and could now see the flashing red and blue lights from the police car just a little further down the road in front of the apartment building (near the bend of the road before Oak merges onto the overpass).
We moved closer thru the parking lot and could see that the officer and John Doe were standing in front of the police cruiser facing each other. A city bus and several cars were travelling towards the scene. They all stopped behind the emergency vehicle. Waiting. We were all waiting, and that’s when it happened.
In a moment the face to face standoff turned into a UFC fight and like that, the two men were on the ground. Right then the bus doors opened and a man came running out. Let’s call him “the Busman”. Without a second thought for his safety, “the Busman” charged full tilt like a linebacker in the Super Bowl and leaped into the fray.
At that moment out of the darkness, another man came running from Main St towards the group. Is that Cellphone Guy or someone else? I don’t know. He came out of the shadows, just like Batman. And like that “the Batman” (or Cellphone Guy) jumped into the mix. The two men assisted the officer in gaining control of John Doe and the officer applied his handcuffs.
That was it. As quickly as the physical confrontation started, it was over. The officer and good Samaritans helped John Doe to his feet and we could see that all were ok and moving back towards the police cruiser.
The NBPS officer was later identified as Cst Ryan Robertson. To him, I say, well done sir. For all he knew, he was alone going one on one with a clearly disturbed and dangerous individual. In the end, John Doe was taken into custody unharmed, the public was kept safe, and Cst Robertson got to go home at the end of his shift.
As for our good Samaritans, The Cellphone Guy, the Busman, and Batman, I say thank you. One got involved and called the police and two of you stepped way out of your comfort zone and without the police training, gear, or any protection, you came to the aid of a lone police officer wrestling with a dangerous subject in the middle of the road on a dark wintery night. Someone could have gotten hurt or killed that night, and your actions gentlemen I think helped prevent that. Thank you and well done.