A man carrying a concealed handgun is credited with stopping a brutal attack on a Utah police officer in Springville on Friday.
The incident began when the police officer approached the suspect, Paul Douglas Anderson, after allegedly observing him stealing items from a charity's donation bin, according to KTLA sister station KSTU in Salt Lake City. When the officer approached Anderson, the suspect refused to take his hands out of his pockets.
Moments later, Anderson attacked the officer and repeatedly punched him in the face, authorities said.
Derek Meyer was driving down Main Street when he saw Anderson attacking the officer. Meyer, armed with a pistol and his concealed-carry permit, made a U-turn and stopped his vehicle behind the police car.
“I carry a gun to protect me and those around me, but primarily I carry a gun to protect my family first and foremost," Meyer said. "Outside of that, if I were to use my gun to protect anyone it would be law enforcement or military personnel."
Meyer got out of the car, pointed his gun at Anderson and yelled at him to stop assaulting the officer.
When Anderson saw the gun, he stopped and ran off. After a brief lockdown at an area school, the suspect was arrested.
Meyer told KSTU he did it “because of who I am. Not to get any extra attention or to have people talk about me or anything I did.” He said he thinks anyone would have stopped to help, armed or not. He said he is just glad to share his story because people do not hear enough “good stories from responsible, gun-owning people.”
Corporal Cory Waters with Springville Police said Meyer’s quick, careful action made a huge difference.
“Had he not been in the right place at the right time, who knows what would have happened,” Waters said. “But he definitely stopped the attack from continuing and becoming much worse. He might have even saved either one of their lives. It could have gone really bad, even for the suspect.”
Cpl. Waters cautioned people like Meyer to be careful, however, because in high-stress situations, officers are wary of anyone nearby with a weapon.
The officer suffered a fractured eye socket and lacerations around the eye. He was released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.