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Mayor Chases Stabbing Suspect, Stops Him With Warning Shot

May 12, 1988

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Mayor Bill Frederick helped rescue a woman who was being stabbed by her estranged husband Thursday, chased down the suspect, fired a warning shot and then held the man at gunpoint until officers arrived, officials said.

According to the mayor, police and witnesses, a man was stabbing his estranged wife with a long screwdriver in a car parked outside a popular restaurant when the mayor and others ran out to try to help the woman.

″I would not have shot the man,″ the mayor said later. ″I had this gun, at this time, for my protection. ... I had witnessed this guy trying to kill his wife.″

Richard Russell Bohannan, 32, of Altamonte Springs was booked into jail, and police said he would be charged with attempted murder.

His wife, JoAnn Turner Bohannan, 23, was treated for multiple puncture wounds in the neck, face and arms at Orlando Regional Medical Center and released later in the day, officials said.

A witness to the attack came into the restaurant to summon help, and recognized the popular, two-term mayor who was just about to pay for his breakfast and leave, authorities said.

The robust Frederick, 53, described as a health enthusiast, and others ran into the parking lot, pulled the man off the woman and dragged him out of the car.

The man came up swinging and slashing, narrowly missing in a swipe at Frederick, and then ran off. The mayor got his 9mm handgun out of his car and gave chase, first on foot and then in a pickup truck driven by another rescuer.

The mayor jumped out of the truck as the man was running alongside a nearby ditch, trying to scale a fence. Frederick said he yelled at the suspect to stop, and when he didn’t, he fired into the air. The man then stopped.

The mayor and another man then forced the suspect to the ground, and the mayor held the gun on him until police arrived.

Frederick carries an automatic weapon - issued to him by the police department - in his city car’s glove compartment for his own safety, said the mayor’s spokesman, Joe Mittiga.

″He was shaken by the whole incident,″ Mittiga said. ″He thought the man had a knife. ... We found out later it was a Phillips-head screwdriver.″

Frederick told reporters he believed he had done the right thing in making a citizen’s arrest because he is experienced in handling guns and said the man may have gotten away if he hadn’t acted.

″If the man had not had the weapon, if he had not made an attack on me with it, I wouldn’t have done that,″ the mayor said.

The gun ″was the only way I could get him to stop and the only way I felt secure approaching him. So if that was wrong, I’ll just have to apologize for it,″ Frederick said.

Update hourly