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EOD Airman thwarts knife attack

Senior Airman Juddson Hydrick, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team member, stands in the team’s shop on Oct. 31, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Hydrick was the first person to step forward to stop an attack on a woman by a man with a knife to her throat at a shopping center Aug. 19, 2018, in Great Falls, Mont. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kiersten McCutchan)

Senior Airman Juddson Hydrick, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team member, stands in the team’s shop on Oct. 31, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Hydrick was the first person to step forward to stop an attack on a woman by a man with a knife to her throat at a shopping center Aug. 19, 2018, in Great Falls, Mont. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kiersten McCutchan)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Senior Airman Juddson Hydrick, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team member, was in front of a Redbox looking at movies with his family at a Walmart center in Great Falls, Montana, Aug. 19, 2018, when he looked up and saw a man with a chokehold on a female Subway employee. The man held a knife to her throat.

Hydrick further assessed the scene and watched as the man tried to drag the woman from the front of the store further into the building.

“I knew I had to do something,” Hydrick said. “I yelled at him to ‘Calm down!’ and to ‘Drop the knife!’ I backed away from my family and circled far away from them. He let go of her pretty much immediately.”

She ran away quickly, and while it appeared she was safe, the story didn’t end there, Hydrick said.

“After she broke away, he took a couple of steps towards me. He looked to be about in his 50s, and clearly was unstable,” he said.

“I didn’t want to charge him because he was holding a knife, but I knew I needed to keep his attention on me,” Hydrick said.

“Then more people realized what was going, and people started calling, ‘He’s got a knife, get back!’ The man stopped coming towards me and began to walk through the store. I started to follow him and two guys came with me. He kept waiving the knife and ranting at people – at one point he got real close to grabbing a Walmart employee,” Hydrick said.

“Very suddenly one of the guys I was following him with, grabbed his arm without the knife and swung him down on the ground. Me and the other guy jumped on him. I pinned his knife arm and pried the knife from him,” he said.

“Once I had the knife away from him, I folded it up and we got off of him,” Hdyrick said. “Then the guy left and went over to the entrance, but by then the police had arrived. He had this really crazy look on his face.”

“I watched as the police officer subdued him with a Tazer, and I gave the knife to a Walmart employee,” he said.

“I went outside to check on the girl, and she was dripping blood off her arm and already talking to the police,” he said. “I learned she was OK, and at that point I was ready to get my family out of there.”

“This could have been an entirely different scenario,” he said. “And it happened fast. Be aware of your surroundings. Simple situational awareness kept the woman from being hurt a lot worse.”

“I scan rooms faster and more often now when I’m out in town, even more so than I did before,” Hydrick said.

“I just saw that she needed help. A young girl in her mid 20s. I couldn’t just let him go back to her,” he said. “I didn’t know if he was zoned in on her or what.”

Hydrick said he later learned the woman had likely been targeted, and that the man was seen regularly at the shopping center.

“Initially I thought he had a scalpel, but then found out it was Swiss army knife. I sustained a small cut when getting the knife from him,” Hydrick said.

The Hydrick family left the shopping center after the incident, but they did not rent a Redbox movie that dramatic day.

A couple of days later, Hydrick made his statement at the Great Falls Police Department.

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