Passerby tackled man trying to get gun from officer, police say

A passerby jumped in to help Saturday when he spotted a police officer struggling with a man moments before the man reached for the officer’s gun, according to multiple reports.

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Police in Vinton, Virginia, told WSLS that officers arrested Vincent Lee Hairston, 33, on Saturday after a brief chase. The chase ended in Roanoke when Hairston crashed the car he was driving and it caught fire, WSLS reported. As an officer attempted to arrest him, police said Hairston grabbed for the officer's gun.

Josh Blake told The Roanoke Times that he was on his way home around 11 p.m. Saturday when he saw the driver's wreck after he crashed into a retaining wall. Blake started filming the encounter as the car's driver started wrestling with the single officer on the scene.

"When I saw (the officer) struggling, I said, 'You know what? I (have) got to help that man,'" Blake, a former correctional officer, told the Times.

He handed his phone to a passenger in his car and as he got out, he said he saw the man reach for the officer’s gun, the Times reported.

“When he grabbed that cop’s gun, all bets were off,” Blake told the Times. “I (have) seen a look in his eyes (that) I’ve never seen in another person.”

Video recorded on Blake’s phone showed him repeatedly wrestling a man to the ground. He and the officer were eventually able to hold him down together, according to the Times.

Police cautioned civilians against following Blake’s lead for fear they could be injured, but Sgt. C.J. Froeschl said Blake’s help “was appreciated.”

“The initial officer, he was the one that shook my hand and gave me a hug first,” Blake told WSLS. “It just let him know that (there are) good people out here.”

Police arrested Hairston on multiple charges, including resisting arrest, attempting to disarm an officer and a slew of outstanding warrants.

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