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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - Deputy Fred Haggett is a 22-year law enforcement veteran, but said he's never had a confrontation with a suspect like he did Wednesday along I-70 in Jefferson County.
"Not somebody armed to that degree," Haggett said Thursday.
He was the first member of law enforcement to catch up with an armed man, later identified as Christopher Sullivan, who was trying to flag drivers on Interstate 70. Before that confrontation, Sullivan is accused of stealing several vehicles, including one that he crashed through a couple's garage door, and ditching each car, before ending up on foot along the interstate near Highway 40.
Flying overhead during the chase, AIRTRACKER7 saw the suspect was armed with a rifle and a handgun.
"It's a momentary thought that, 'I'm outgunned and I need to engage him,'" Haggett said he thought when he encountered the man.
Haggett aimed his gun at the suspect while still on his motorcycle, but never fired. 7NEWS asked why he showed restraint even with the suspect pointing his weapon at passing motorists.
"If he had done what you described while I had both feet on the ground, this would be a different story," he said.
Haggett said he wasn't in a position to shoot on the motorcycle and noted that by the time he was off the bike, the suspect had started dropping his weapons.
He said he realized, "it's not going to be a gun fight, but it's not over until he's in custody."
The deputy said he was frustrated that, even though the suspect dropped his weapons, and begged him not to shoot, he continued trying to get away. It forced Haggett to eventually rip the suspect's shirt and tackle him to the ground.
"I had total control of him," Haggett said.
Still, he said he appreciated the courage of two motorists who stopped and helped hold the suspect down.
"I was vaguely aware of a gentlemen who came up and got on suspects' legs," he said.
He said another man asked if he wanted help holding the suspects' arms and Haggett actually told him, "no" since he knew his co-workers would be by his side soon.
It's tough to imagine being in Haggett's shoes, but he said he's no hero and, after watching the AIRTRACKER7 video three times, wouldn't do anything differently.
He compares those tense moments to being an athlete, saying his training kicked in.
"You can get very nervous before the ballgame, but once it's game on, you get very focused," he said. "You become very mission-oriented."
Haggett said he has some bumps and bruises from the scuffle, but is otherwise fine and back to work as usual.