STAMFORD, Conn. — During a violent struggle with a man over control of his handgun in a glass-enclosed elevator at the Stamford Town Center, Lt. Diedrich Hohn could see a crowd gathering to watch him, the suspect and Officer Luis Velez.
"When that elevator was going up and down, I looked up for one split second and I saw a lot of people looking," Hohn said Friday. "You laugh at it now, but we weren't laughing in the elevator. It was a fight, you could hear the guy grunting, obviously he was mentally disturbed, and he put up a good fight."
Hohn, Velez and four fellow Stamford Police officers — Sgt. Carl Strate and officers Kevin Lochard, Jeffrey Lund and Ramon Gipson — were honored Friday by Stamford Mayor David Martin for their work in making the arrest.
In the incident Wednesday afternoon, Mohamed Boumazzourn, 29, of Norwalk was arrested and charged with brandishing a facsimile firearm, reckless endangerment, breach of peace and resisting arrest after the violent encounter in the mall.
Martin praised the officers for their work, their restraint and their professionalism. He said other cities have seen instances that have escalated into police shootings, which are sometimes fatal. But he said it is different in Stamford.
"Instead, we see here in the city time and time again our police department deals with situations that are dangerous to the public and situations that are dangerous for them and they have handled those situations with restraint, professionalism and resolved in ways that have been better for the community and better for them," Martin said.
The frightening incident began shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday when 911 callers told police there was a man with a handgun downtown. Officers were able to track the man via surveillance video as he walked into the Stamford Town Center, police said.
Hohn and Velez tracked the suspect to the elevator, police said. When the elevator doors opened, Velez saw the handgun and immediately yelled it out to his fellow officers, police said.
Velez and Hohn pushed the suspect back into the elevator, where they wrestled with him to the ground, police said. They grabbed the handgun, which eventually proved to be a replica pistol, police said.
Boumazzourn was held on $100,000 bond after his arrest.