Law & Justice

Army Lt. and Montville Grad Aids Police in Stopping Carjacking

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2nd Lt. Brandon Hatzel of the Florida National Guard Credits: Courtesy of Fort Sill Tribune Staff
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LAWTON, OK. – Montville Township High School graduate and U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Brandon Hatzel thought he’d be able to relax and have a smoothie in a café in Lawton, OK on March 19, but instead ran into the parking lot to aid police in the arrest of a would-be carjacker, according to the Fort Sill Tribune.

Hatzel and a fellow student in the Air Defense Artillery Basic Officer Leaders Course had just taken an exam and were at the café when they heard yelling in the parking lot. They saw a police officer chasing a man.

Hatzel said he noticed the man had jumped into a car and a woman in the café said that the man had just jumped into her mother’s car. Hatzel said he quickly decided to run out and help.

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The police officer told Hatzel that the man was a wanted felon and asked for help getting the man out of the car but warned Hatzel to be careful. Hatzel said he later learned that police had used a stun gun on the man and wrestled with him.

Since Hatzel believed the car’s driver to be in peril, he jumped into the back seat of the car, where the suspect was.

“He closed the door on my right arm, which made me mad, and then we just went at it,” Hatzel said in the Tribune article. “He screamed at me, ‘I’m going to shoot you, too, b===.’”

Hatzel engaged in a fistfight with the man, being careful to watch for a weapon. The man was wearing a ring and landed a punch on the side of Hatzel’s face and scratched the back of his head. Hatzel said he thought the suspect to be on drugs because he was “ridiculously strong.”

“I had him in a choke-hold, but he managed to get away,” said Hatzel, who also studied jiu-jitsu growing up, according to the Tribune.

The suspect jumped out of the car, ran across the road, and Hatzel chased him.

Hatzel’s father is a retired Montville Township Police officer who worked 31 years on the force according to the Tribune, and Brandon said he could hear his father’s voice in his head as he gave chase saying, “You’re not wearing a protective vest!”

When Hatzel tried to grab the suspect by the hair, his wig came off, but finally after the suspect ran into a store, store employees helped Hatzel by sitting on the suspect with Hatzel until police took over.

"I didn't want to be there, but I had to be,” Hatzel said in the Tribune article. “My only concern was for that woman. If he had a gun and shot that woman, I never would have been able to sleep again."

Used with permission from the Fort Sill Public Affairs Office.

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