RCMP AWARD - Lonnie Amundson was recognized by the Red Deer RCMP for assisting in an arrest in early 2018. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Central Albertan receives award for aiding RCMP officer in arrest

Lonnie Amundson, rugby player, tackled a fleeing suspect to help ailing officer

The Red Deer RCMP detachment recently recognized Red Deerians who have contributed to a safer Red Deer and have gone beyond reasonable expectations.

Among the recognized individuals and businesses, which included McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s, the Insurance Bureau of Canada and other businesses in the East Hill Shopping Centre, was City of Red Deer Public Works employee Lonnie Amundson — who assisted a a Red Deer RCMP officer with an arrest in early 2018.

“It was unruly individual at a shopping mall area in Red Deer,” RCMP Superintendent Ken Foster said. “There was some potential mental health issues and our officer had received complaints about the individual in the area with the potential of violence.

“Upon trying to apprehend the suspect, the individual resisted. Our officer deployed one of his intervention options, that being pepper spray.”

Unfortunately, the suspect managed to allude the officer and some of the pepper spray affected the officer himself.

Amundson, who was in a north-end Dairy Queen drive-thru just off Gaetz Ave., saw the suspect fleeing.

“I didn’t think twice, I put my truck in park and ran after him and tackled him,” Amundson, who also has been a rugby player for 29 years, said.

Amundson then realized the RCMP officer was still affected by the pepper spray so he continued to assist with the arrest.

“You don’t get too many opportunities to help the police. That was a situation I will remember for the rest of my life,” he said.

Foster said the RCMP appreciates the help of citizens, but does not encourage them to put their selves in harms way.

“Once in awhile, they jump into action if they are comfortable with it — that is how citizens and police work together. We don’t ask citizens to be vigilantes or go out and do something dangerous,” he said.

Amundson said he wasn’t concerned that he could have been in danger.

“I have had people ask me, ‘What if he had a gun?’. Well I would have tackled a guy with a gun then. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about what he may or may not have. I was just thinking of helping the officer,” he said.

While this specific situation is fairly unique, Foster said citizens help police officers in many ways including stopping impaired drivers, stopping shoplifters and stepping into altercations in progress to name a few.

“Citizens are involved more than people would actually think,” Foster said.

Mayor Tara Veer said this situation speaks to Red Deer citizens’ commitment to a safer community.

“It just so happens to be a City of Red Deer employee, which I think speaks to the commitment City of Red Deer employees have to the people in our community,” she said.

She added, “It is important to acknowledge both corporate citizens, as well as the individual citizen whose bravery and collaboration ultimately brought about a safer Red Deer.”

Amundson, who said he is fed up with crime in Red Deer currently, said receiving the award from the RCMP is a highlight of his life and that he would repeat his actions in a heartbeat.