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Watchful citizens help Police to apprehend suspect, avoid harm

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - When Utica Police Officer John Lomonico responded to a burglary alarm on Lexington Place in Utica a little after 10:00 Thursday morning, he saw a suspect, crawling legs-first, out of a rear window of 109 Lexington, a stuffed pillowcase in one hand and a pry bar in the other.  
 
The officer drew his weapon, shouting to suspect Ronald Flagg to stop. Flagg took off and Officer Lomonico was able to take him to the ground, but with a great struggle that didn't end with the tackle. 
   
Next-door neighbor Jack Carter heard and saw the struggle and ran toward the officer and suspect.  Another bystander from out of state who was helping his sister move had already stepped in, peeling Flagg's fingers back from the loaded, semi-automatic handgun he was carrying, kicking the gun out of reach.  But Flagg didn't give up; witnesses say he then went for the officer's duty weapon.  And that is where Carter's bystander status came to an end.
    
"So I came over and he couldn't get his hands behind his back so I just grabbed his arm and tossed it back and it's like, he was saying he was trying to get his gun so I grabbed his other arm, tossed it behind his back and he cuffed him up," says Carter. 
   
Utica Police Chief Mark Williams was moved by the bystanders' bravery and willingness to get involved and help an officer in need....and, in danger. 
    
"I can't commend the civilians enough for the actions they took. I'm convinced that they helped preserve the life of our officer. So is that officer....he told me after the incident he couldn't thank the people enough and they helped save his life," says Police Chief Mark Williams. 
    
To Carter, who keeps an eye on and takes note of what's happening in his neighborhood, getting involved was natural and required little thought. 
   
"He was down and needed help so I just came out and...glad to do it....if you can help, help. Plain and simple. You'd want someone to help you if you're in that situation and they could."
    
The chief is glad the two bystanders took an active role when they saw a police officer in danger and need of help. He hopes others would do the same in that situation, provided they could, safely. 
  
"I wouldn't expect somebody elderly or frail necessarily....at the very least be able to call for help...let's face it, our community is only as strong if our citizens are working along with the police in some type of format or aspect," says Chief Williams.
    

The city plans to formally recognize Jack Carter and Stanley Markis, of Pennsylvania, at a later date. 

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