A brave soldier who disarmed a gunman who was threatening a crowd of shoppers has been officially recognised for his outstanding bravery.
Captain Karl Williams, 42, was ‘off-duty’ and was shopping in Southampton city centre when he heard a large disturbance.
As he went to investigate, Capt Williams could see a man who was pointing a firearm towards a shocked crowd of startled shoppers.
Without any regard for his own safety, Capt Williams ran towards the gunman and took him to the ground.
Once Capt Williams had pinned him down, he disarmed the male and restrained him until the police arrived.
Recollecting the incident, Capt Williams said:
“It was a fight or flight scenario. For a brief second I saw his attention wasn’t on anyone else and that this was the brief opportunity I could safely engage.
“On hearing loud hysterical screaming nearby, I cautiously approached the incident and observed a highly agitated man pointing a firearm towards a crowd of people in a threatening manner.
“The crowd were petrified, and I was unable to intercept the aggressor immediately due to the potential for exacerbating the situation and placing the public in greater danger.
“I monitored the situation from a distance before engaging the aggressor as he began to back away from the crowd and reach into his bag.
“It was at that point that I took him to the ground, disarming and restraining him in the process.
“It was a fight or flight scenario, for a brief second I saw his attention wasn’t on anyone else and that this was the brief opportunity I could safely engage.”
The man who Capt Williams disarmed has now been sent to prison after being convicted of a string of serious and violent offences.
Capt Williams, who serves with the RLC, has received an award for his “unconditional bravery”.
As he waited for armed police units to arrive, and whilst still restraining the male, Capt Williams went to make the weapon safe and in doing so, recognised that it was a replica.
It was only after the male had been carted away by the police that the run of events started to sink in for Capt Williams.
“I’d walked about half a mile away from the scene, it was at that moment that the adrenaline kicked in and my legs started to turn to jelly, it was then that it dawned on me what had just happened,” he said.
The Quartermaster at 19 Tank Transport Squadron based in Bulford has been recognised with a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in the latest Armed Forces Operational Awards List Number 54.
His citation states: “The unconditional bravery and selfless commitment demonstrated by Williams was truly remarkable as he instinctively focussed on the safety of everyone else around him. For acting so impressively in the face of danger, Williams is unequivocally deserving of formal and public recognition for his bravery.”
Speaking about his commendation, Karl said: “I am delighted and humbled to learn that I am to be awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.
“Since the day, knowing the individual had been detained in custody and then learning that he had been given a prison sentence, to me felt like matters were right, and to be honest, I hadn’t heard or given thought to the event since.
“It was a complete surprise to me this morning when my Commanding Officer informed me of the news, I thought I was coming in for the normal day to day meeting.
“It is a strange feeling but a special moment because to me, I was simply doing something that felt right at the time.
“I remember my wife saying to me after the event that what I had done was stupid, I know she was only looking out for me but I did what my instinct told me and that was to dissolve the situation in the best and safest way I could.”
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