COOS BAY — A citizen used a .45 caliber handgun to detain a man he allegedly saw assault another man outside of Fred Meyers in Coos Bay on Wednesday.
Jeffory Snyder, 55, of North Bend, said he was in his car at a stoplight on Johnson Avenue with his wife, when they say Donald Johnson, 53, “sucker punched” Basil Broman, knocking the man unconscious.
Snyder, a former nurse, said he got out of the car to check on the 23-year-old Broman due the vicious nature of the punch.
“The first thing to hit was the back of the gentleman’s head on the sidewalk,” Snyder said. “The van in front of (Broman) almost ran over his head.”
Both Synder and his wife, also a former nurse, along with other bystanders, attended to Broman and called police. That’s when Snyder said Johnson took off on foot southbound on U.S. Highway 101 toward the Coalbank Slough Bridge.
Snyder followed Johnson, telling the man he couldn’t leave until police arrived. Snyder grabbed the back of Johnson’s shirt, turning him around, and the two had a “face-off.”
Synder, who said he suffers from disabilities and has a neck injury, said Johnson started to come at him and he started to retreat away.
“I didn’t want to fight him because he just knocked this other guy out,” Snyder said.
Fearing for his safety, Snyder pulled his handgun, which he carries legally with a concealed weapons permit. Snyder said the two men stood about six feet from each other.
“I pointed (the gun) right at his nose,” Snyder said.
Snyder said he pointed the gun at Johnson, clicking the safety off a one point as Johnson came toward him, for a “couple of minutes” until Coos Bay police arrived.
Capt. Chris Chapanar said there was mild confusion when police arrived and saw Snyder pointing the gun at Johnson. Snyder said he placed his gun on the ground and was immediately put in handcuffs. Police eventually let Snyder go and placed Johnson under arrest for fourth-degree assault after speaking with witnesses.
“I really did not want to shoot the man,” Snyder said. “I believe in a civilized society we don’t need to see people, even street people, knock someone out and get away with it. Someone has to do something.”
Chapanar said both Johnson and Basil are transients in the area and Johnson is well known to police.
While Snyder believes pulling the gun on Johnson saved him from serious physical harm, if he would have shot Johnson, he could have faced charges ranging from negligent homicide to murder.
Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said a person can defend themselves with a reasonable amount of force if they feel threatened, but a concealed weapons permit does not give a person the right to pull a gun.
“The question would be whether pointing the gun was a reasonable way to defend himself,” Frasier said.
Coos Bay police determined Snyder used reasonable force to defend himself and he was not charged with any crime in the incident.
Johnson was booked on the assault charge and was released from the Coos County jail on his own recognizance today.
Reporter Tyler Richardson can be reached at 541 269 1222 ext. 236 or at firstname.lastname@example.org