FARMINGTON – The Farmington Police Department honored three people this week with Meritorious Citizen Awards for their help in stopping a knife-wielding man outside the Animas Valley Mall.
According to a police report, security officers for the mall called police around 6 p.m. Feb. 22 and asked for assistance with a man, later identified at Raymond Willie, 46, who was wielding a knife and threatening mall-goers.
“The man had been aggressive with other customers and security while inside the mall,” according to a news release issued about the time of the incident by the Farmington Police Department.
Willie purchased the knife from a business inside the mall and then went outside and started threatening people, according to the release.
Before officers arrived to help, Myrtis Lone Eagle, a bystander, tried to help the security officer disarm Willie from behind.
“I thought, (the security officer) probably had a family, and she probably needs help to make sure she gets home safe,” Lone Eagle said in an interview Friday. “And that was the biggest thing going through my head was to make sure that she was safe. So she would be OK and go home.”
The security officer was able to pepper spray Willie, although some of the spray got into Lone Eagle’s eyes, and Willie began to stab Lone Eagle in the hip, Lone Eagle said.
Once Lone Eagle had taken Willie to the ground, a father and son pair, Wilson Benally and Keyshaun Benally, helped restrain Willie until officers arrived.
When officers arrived, they helped Lone Eagle and detained Willie.
Lone Eagle was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center where he was treated for stab wounds to his hip, hand and side.
Lone Eagle said he would do the same thing again if the circumstance arose.
“Everybody was after me, saying I was stupid and crazy and I shouldn’t be doing that,” Lone Eagle said. “That’s how I was brought up and taught. ... I wasn’t sure if she was married or a single mother, or if she was just another lady or female, but somebody was expecting her to go home, so that’s why I would do it again.”
Lone Eagle credited “a lot” of his discipline to playing football in Cortez.
“These three gentlemen put themselves on the line to help fellow citizens, and that means a lot to us,” Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said Friday. “We’re proud to have them in our community and to recognize them.”
All three men were honored with a certificate and a medal.