Movie switch results in heroic action

MARYSVILLE For two Marysville couples, dinner and a movie turned into a real-life drama on a Saturday night two weekends ago.

  • Thursday, August 28, 2008 11:41am
  • News

Pictured left to right are Gregg Famelos and Kathy Famelos

MARYSVILLE For two Marysville couples, dinner and a movie turned into a real-life drama on a Saturday night two weekends ago.
We had planned to see Bobby, said Kathy Famelos, referring to the Emilio Estevez movie about Robert F. Kennedy, But we all decided to eat in Everett. That took longer than we thought it would and we missed the start time for that show.
We ended up going to Truer Than Fiction, the Will Ferrell movie, said her husband, Gregg Famelos, which, by the way, I wouldnt give one star. Both couples remembered the movie by that title, although it is actually called Stranger Than Fiction.
That combination of events, as often happens in life, changed the course of the evening for the Fameloses and Don and Debbie Whitfield, into something that might be categorized as truer than fiction itself.
Kathy Famelos said if not for that the couples would have been riding in separate cars and going in opposite directions home after the movie.
Instead they were riding south together on State Avenue when they passed Alfys Pizza on the 9300 block. They noticed a Snohomish County Sheriffs squad car parked obliquely, lights flashing and what looked like a fight on the ground next to it. They slowed down.
That officer is on the bottom, said Debbie Whitfield. What came next, they say, was an automatic reaction. The deputy needed help.
They pulled into the parking lot. The two men jumped out of the car. Don Whitfield, who wrestled on the Monroe high school squad where he grew up, remembers thinking they needed to get the guy off the officer and subdued. I just thought the basics, he said. Get the guy in a half-Nelson. They could clearly see the man repeatedly pummeling the officer in the face.
Famelos and Whitfield rushed the guy and tackled him on to his back. The two then subdued him for two or three minutes, said Whitfield, although he said later it was like the surreal time of a car wreck when things go into slow motion. Another officer showed up and they cuffed the man.
When their husbands tackled the man the two wives helped Deputy Becky Lewis to her feet. She was still wobbly and there was blood all over the place, said Debbie Whitfield. She and Kathy said the officer had her attacker in a leg lock even as he was continuing to strike her. She wasnt going to let him get away, Kathy Famelos said.
Don and Gregg say that is probably why they got the man to his back as quickly as they did. They said they had also luckily parked in a way that gave them an approach to his back so he probably didnt see them coming.
Gregg said when they had the guy on the ground he kept talking incoherently and saying weird stuff like he was trying to talk to the officer.
Nine days after the incident the two couples calmly described the events of the night. Did they think about the danger involved? Did they worry that the man might be armed with a gun or knife? Did either of the wives try to keep their husband out of harms way or suggest a less potentially dangerous intervention?
No to all of the above.
Sheriff Rick Bart, asked about the incident, said, When any deputy is in that kind of a situation, they are thinking about keeping their gun from getting into the assailants hands. If Deputy Lewis had been knocked unconscious things may have gotten much worse.
We saw a police officer on the ground, in trouble. We had to do something. Later we thought about those things but not at the time, the couples said. Don Whitfield, who owns a local insurance company, said the risks didnt even occur to him until later, although afterwards when officers handed him a clip board and asked him to fill out the form with his statement, it took a while for his hand to stop shaking enough that he could comply.
Gregg, a Boeing employee who was born and raised in Marysville, and his wife Kathy, who has worked for Verizon for 27 years and was born and raised in Everett, shared the same feeling.
Dons wife, Debbie Whitfield, is a special education teacher at Kellogg Marsh Elementary School in Marysville, a PTA Council Educator of the Year, and was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow Award for her many civic contributions this year by the Marysville Rotary Club. Don Whitfield led the Marysville School bond effort and has always been involved in the community. The Fameloses are also volunteers and civic-minded natives.
They didnt talk about any of those things, however. They talked about how strange it was that because they didnt get to the show they planned to see, this surreal, weird event happened, and a downed officer was aided from potentially horrible consequences.
That is definitely truer than fiction.

The suspect, Kenneth Bond, was arrested when backup officers arrived on the scene. He is currently being held at the county jail on $100,000 bail and felony assault in the first degree charges are pending. Deputy Becky Lewis had originally pulled Bond over because of an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for his arrest.
Deputy Lewis is currently recovering from a broken nose and has been assigned back to work on limited basis in another unit.
The two couples will be formally recognized for their actions at a Jan. 8 Snohomish County Council meeting.

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