Soldier Tackles Violent Suspect on Police Ridealong

While the soldier plays down his role, officers consider his actions heroic

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    A violent struggle began as a domestic violence call involving the parents of two small children. It quickly got out of control when officers tried to get the kids out of the hands of their father. Tony Shin reports.

    Zachary Delong has seen his share of battles. 

    "I've been to Afghanistan three times," Delong told NBCSanDiego.

    Every since he was a little kid, the U.S Army soldier has always been interested in a career in law enforcement.

    "My father is a police officer in Portland and that's why I want to be a police officer," Delong said.

    Soldier Helps SDPD Officer Injured in Child Custody Fight

    [DGO] Soldier Helps SDPD Officer Injured in Child Custody Fight
    A violent struggle began as a domestic violence call involving the parents of two small children. It quickly got out of control when officers tried to get the kids out of the hands of their father. Tony Shin reports.

    But not just any police officer. 

    "I want to work for San Diego police," he said.

    That's exactly why he was on a ride along with an SDPD officer Wednesday when 45 minutes into the shift, a call came out over the radio involving a domestic violence situation.

    A woman needed help because the father of her two small kids wouldn't give them back to her police said.

    Delong and his officer immediately went to the intersection of Kettner and Sassafras where they found a man holding two small children.

    Delong says another officer arrived to serve as back up.

    But as the two officers tried to get the kids to safety, Delong says the father got angry.

    "Immediately he became violent, he tensed up and wouldn't let him (officer) put handcuffs on him, just turned into a fight from there," Delong said.

    During the struggle an officer suffered a broken ankle and somehow a gun fell out of his holster.

    Delong grabbed the gun and made sure the suspect couldn't reach it.

    But the officer who was injured couldn't help the other officer anymore, so Delong decided it was time to act.

    "He (officer) was on top of him (suspect) holding down on him, but it was hard for one person to handcuff him, so I just helped hold him down," Delong said.

    With the suspect in custody and the children safely with their mother, paramedics took the injured officer to Sharp Memorial where he will undergo surgery on his ankle Thursday.

    When asked if he thought he was a hero, Delong said, "I don't know if it's heroic, I don't think it is at all."

    But San Diego Police officers were certainly impressed.

    "We'd like to sign him up as maybe being a San Diego Police officer," said acting Lt. Misty Cedrun.

    The suspect faces several charges including domestic violence and assaulting police.