MIDLOTHIAN -- A Mansfield firefighter and former Marine taking down an armed robber with his bare hands was caught on camera at a Midlothian gas station. And now, Daniel Gaskey is being hailed as a hero.
The robbery took place June 26 at the Exxon Oasis Food Store on 9th Street in Midlothian, according to Midlothian Police Sgt. Nick Harp.
It started out as a regular day for Gaskey. “It was about 6:15 in the morning. I was on my way to work, stopped in here like I normally do before my shift and just getting some water or coffee, you know, just stuff to start the day,” Gaskey said.
Security video captured the incident, showing Gaskey standing at the counter getting ready to pay when a white male, wearing a black mask and red and black jacket, enters and shoves him aside.
"This guy walks in and gets up to me and, you know, and puts his hand on me and kind of moves me out of the way," he said. "So I kind of step back and realize that he’s not paying attention to me; he just wanted me out of the way so he moves me and goes up to the cash register."
Gaskey is seen in the video moving back, his hands in the air, apparently mistaking the man, identified by police as Dylan John Bearden, for an impatient customer. “Initially, I was just shocked that someone would be putting their hands on me," Gaskey said.
"I glance over and realize he’s got a black hood or mask over his face, so immediately it’s obvious what his intentions are," he continued.
Police say Bearden demanded money from the clerk as he pulled a weapon.
Gaskey described what happened at that point. "So he moves me and goes up to the cash register, to the cashier, and pulls out a fixed blade knife and tells her, ‘This is gonna be quick and easy,’ you know, something about ‘Give me the money.'"
That's when the guy who'd been shoved aside sprang into action.
“I have the element of surprise at this moment while he’s talking to her, so I jumped on his back and went for the control of the knife, grabbed his arm and flipped him over to maintain control of the weapon and get him on the ground," Gaskey said. "I wrestled the knife away from him and I just subdued him and maintained control of his body until the police arrived a few minutes later.”
Security video shows Gaskey reacting and leaping forward, pulling Bearden to the ground, taking the knife from him, and holding him until police arrive.
“Once I got him on the ground, it was pretty quick. It wasn’t a long fight; it wasn’t incredibly rough. I controlled his arm on the way to the ground, I got on top of him, and once I was wrestled the knife away from him and moved it away from his reach, I was able to put pressure on his shoulder, control him, and stop him from struggling. Once he stopped struggling, it became rather civil," Gaskey said.
The suspect was outmatched, to say the least.
"I controlled him, I controlled his arms, and I told him, ‘We’re not gonna move til the cops get here. And if you move or you do anything I don’t like, that’s gonna be a problem for me and we’ll go from there,’" he said.
Bearden, apparently, heeded the advice.
"Once I had control of him, he didn’t fight anymore. I kept my pressure on his wrists, I kept my weight on his back, and we basically just sat there until the cops,” Gaskey said.
Gaskey said once police arrived, the suspect was already done and did not resist. "There was no fight left in him and so there was no need for any more force. The cops were like, ‘Do you understand what’s going on?’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir’ and they put the handcuffs on him, no problem."
Gaskey is a veteran and has been a Mansfield firefighter paramedic for a little over a year, but training for a day like this started much earlier in life. "I grew up wrestling, from elementary to high school, and went straight into the Marine Corps, with all the basic combat training that they put you through. The reaction was instinctive and everything I did, I like to say it was just muscle memory," he said.
Dylan Bearden has been charged with Aggravated Robbery. See the Dylan John Bearden Arrest Affidavit.
Opinions posted to social media about the video brought reaction from Bearden's older sister, Nicole Mitschke:
"I'd like to say my brother, Dylan, is a good kid who just graduated high school, he's never done anything like this before and has never been in trouble. He's not a thug, he tried to get a job but couldn't find one, he did what he did cause he wanted to help family. I don't expect anyone to understand; not everything is as it seems. There is always more than meets the eye. We are working on getting him the help he needs, but I do not believe prison is what he needs. Thanks."
Daniel Gaskey is humbly rejecting the label of hero. “I feel like someone who had the ability to do something and did it. I would like to think that there are many people out there who would have done the same thing if put in that situation.”
Never cut in line. And don't mess with Texas, especially the firefighters.
“I didn’t need any coffee after that, I’ll tell you that much," Gaskey said.
Here's the full interview with Daniel Gaskey: