A Dayton native is being praised for stopping an attempted armed robbery at an Alaska mall.
Matthew Willhite, 24, was at the 5th Avenue Mall in Anchorage, Alaska, last Sunday when he came across a security guard wrestling with a teenage boy, later identified as 18-year-old Yan Bangout, outside of a Buckle clothing store. The teen had allegedly been trying to steal $1,200 in designer jeans when security attempted to stop him, according to KTUU Channel 2 in Anchorage. Willhite said he didn’t think anything of it until the security guard started shouting the boy had a gun.
“At first, it was just them wresting, it was nothing out of the ordinary,” Willhite said. “Then the security guard started screaming ‘gun, gun, gun’ and I went to my side arm and went to the situation.”
Willhite approached the two with his gun drawn and told Bangout he needed to drop his gun. The suspect surrendered and Willhite said he kept his 1911 .45 ACP gun on the man until security was able to fully restrain him in handcuffs.
Willhite said he had just wanted to stop the suspect from firing the gun and possibly hitting anyone.
“If he had cracked off even one round and had shot someone and I didn’t do anything about it, that doesn’t feel right,” Willhite told the Nevada Appeal. “I carry a gun and I should do something, besides I was protecting myself and my family as well.”
The Dayton High School grad had grown up around guns all his life, with his dad being involved in law enforcement and a retired Navy officer. He said he always carries around a gun to be prepared if an event, like the one that took place, ever happens.
“I carry, not because I am looking for something to happen, but because something could happen,” Willhite said.
Willhite said he’s no hero.
“It wasn’t a heroic act,” Willhite said. “It was what every man was brought up to do, you protect your own. Stuff happens every day and you have to be ready for it. (Something like that) could have ended so much differently.”