Deptford, NJ – A heroic high school English teacher jumped in to save a local police officer after he spotted a man choking the officer during a brawl at a shopping mall.
The incident occurred at the Deptford Township Mall at approximately 7:30 p.m. on May 19, WPVI reported.
Deptford Township Police Department (DTPD) Officer Anthony Gatto responded to the mall after the department received a request for help with a man who was being unruly and refusing to leave the premises, according to CBS News.
The officer located the suspect, later identified as 43-year-old Michael Carberry, up on the second floor of the shopping center, WPVI reported.
Investigators said Officer Gatto repeatedly asked Carberry to leave the property, but he refused.
He then “allegedly became confrontational” and positioned himself to fight, according to police.
The officer was left with little choice but to arrest the unruly suspect, so he moved in to take Carberry into custody, WPVI reported.
But the suspect immediately went on the fight, leading to a physical altercation between him Officer Gatto, according to police.
Investigators said Carberry was able to place the officer in a chokehold, “effectively cutting off” his oxygen and blood supply, the DTPD said.
Penns Grove High School English teacher Robert Fitzpatrick said he was heading into a store when he saw the situation escalating, WPVI reported.
Fitzpatrick asked the store manager to keep an eye on his two kids and ran over to help the struggling officer, according to the news outlet.
The jujutsu-trained teacher jumped into the fray and wrestled Carberry away from Officer Gatto, WPVI reported.
“I was able to apply a choke and take him to the ground and flatten him out,” Fitzpatrick said. “I talked to him. I explained to him I’m a father of three. I’m going home to my boys.”
Carberry was subsequently arrested on a slew of charges, including attempted homicide of a police officer, aggravated assault, defiant trespass, and disorderly conduct, Newsday reported.
Officer Gatto suffered a bloody lip and broken blood vessels in his eyes as a result of the attack, according to police.
DTPD Detective Sergeant Robert Jones said he is thankful and appreciative Fitzpatrick was willing to jump in when he saw the officer in need of help, WPVI reported.
“There were other folks that were there at that time and they took their cellphones out and recorded the incident,” Det. Sgt. Jones said. “This guy didn’t. He became involved.”