4 Ambulance attendants, 8 police officers and a sucker punch to my head. How was your day?

Last night I drove downtown to meet someone from the church  for coffee. After we parked the car near McDonald's, we noticed a young man speaking wildly to an older gentleman. Clearly the younger was harassing and threatening the older guy.

My friend and I instinctively moved in closer to see if the situation could be de-escalated. The younger one turned to us and was diverted away. We spoke calmly to him and he momentarily chilled. But then he began to tell us that he was with CIA. Then it was FBI. He started uttering death threats and saying he could shoot us. He told each of us that he was going to kill us.

I had taken my eyeglasses off and had them in my hand. He grabbed them and took off running down the line of cars in the drive-thru lane. He harassed people at their windows and hopped into an older woman's vehicle for  a few seconds.

My friend and I chased after him to retrieve my glasses. He dropped a piece of his ID. I picked it up thinking it might be needed to identify him or to trade for my glasses. Around the line he danced and then he put a dent in a pickup truck by punching it.

Now the crowd began to gather and I phoned 911. He came behind me and punched me in the head. (It's a little tender today, but nothing serious.) He took a swing at my friend. He ducked and restrained the wild man from behind. He wiggled loose and then another bystander assisted my friend in pinning this guy to the ground until the police arrived.

So what can I learn from this mayhem at McDonald's?

The Perpetrator

When I looked into his eyes, I could see that they were dilated. The CIA/FBI references may have been delusions of mental illness or substance abuse. A couple of the bystanders knew him and said that he had a serious drug and alcohol problem. So something was jacking him up. I don't know his story (yet), but I've been around enough people with problems to recognize that he was not in control of himself. I hope I can meet him when he is in his right mind and that he can get help.

The Punch To The Head

I guess I don't have an anger problem. Neither did my friend or the other bystanders who intervened. No-one lost it on this guy including the arresting officers. He was swinging at several of us  and uttering threats. Real men do not let foolishness or unreasonable behaviour provoke a violent response. 

I'm not a scrapper, so a punch to the head is more of an oddity to me than an insult. I remember thinking, 'Really? Have you lost your mind?'

I was checked by EMS to make sure I was okay. My blood pressure was spiking, but other than that nothing to be concerned about. Hmm... wonder if I was under duress?

The Charges

He stole my glasses, threatened to kill me and several others, assaulted me and others, public mischief, property damage... The officer who took my statement asked if I wanted to press charges? I was hesitant at first, because I'm a man. I can take it and not feel that I had been victimized. But, I was a victim and the more I thought about his erratic behaviour, the more I realized that he should not get away with what he had done. I was actually glad that he encountered us and not victimized someone that could be traumatized and vulnerable. I did press charges because I realized he needs a wake-up call. 

Substance Abusers

People who abuse drugs and alcohol are abusive and insensitive toward people around them. A person's bad habits are not victimless. Someone always gets hurt by the altered state and self-medicating behaviour. Addicts need help and some have to hit bottom to realize it.

Have you been to a hospital emergency room between Thursday and Sunday? I would suggest that 70% of the crises are drug and alcohol related. I would suggest that 80-90% of people in jail are there partially because of drug and alcohol abuse. IMHO

If anyone knows this guy or his family, I hope that there enough people to give a rip and get him the help he needs. I hope he's sunk far enough to realize he has a problem and is ready for change. 

1:30 p.m. - I just got off the phone with a detective. The young man was known by the police and has a history of psychiatric problems. He was admitted to the hospital last night and is getting help. The police will not lay charges, since it is a psychiatric problem. In this instance, I am in agreement that jail is not his answer. Too many people with mental health issues end up in jail where they are not adequately helped. I'm praying that this guy gets good help and a clear mind.


Barry said…
... great way of thinkning ... had a similar encounter w/ a person who bought something from me on Kijiji .. came back not happy [his fault, not mine] punched me in the head and flipped me over a railing to a undulating sidewalk 8 ft below .. on my front verandah .. I did not respond violently .. instead calmly called police and they arrested him .. he was also known to police ... have not seen or heard from him since but ... hope he learned his lesson .. drugs or alcohol were not involved but there def was an anger management problem of which he took classes for, as assigned by the courts. Getting punched in the face was not as bad an ordeal as I thought it would be but the whiplash was def no fun ... random acts of violence do need to be dealt with ... by the systems we have in place, not ourselves.
Robert said…
I knew you would find this experience as a teaching moment. We all seem to find "what's stuff" we are made of during this kind of stress.

It seems you pass the test this time in anger was kept in check. Hopefully when our time comes we will rise to the occasion as well.

And it will come!

Robert Frenette