What should a conscientious citizen do if he observes a man with an axe who looks like he might use it for something nefarious? The Berlin police recommend that you… call the police, what else? But it’s better not to try anything heroic — just scream real loud and get out of there.
Many thanks to Nash Montana for translating this article from the Berliner Morgenpost:
What do I do if I’m standing in front of the axe-wielding man?
A 27-year-old man was endangering himself when he followed two men with an axe who looked like they were ready to inflict violence. Here’s what one can do in case of such a situation.
Two men who looked like they were ready for violence were roaming through Berlin with an axe. A man noticed them and wanted to stop them — when one of the two men punched him in the face with his fist, while his friend handed him the axe and as he was going to bring the axe down, he stopped himself. That is how the 27-year-old victim recounts his experience from Wednesday evening.
It’s quite possible that the man prevented something much worse by immediately calling the police when he noticed the two men with the axe. But obviously he also put himself into danger because he followed the two men.
The Berlin Police do not want to evaluate the man’s actions. How one should act accordingly, always depends on the situation. “One should just trust one’s gut instincts,” says a spokeswoman for the Police. But basically, “one shouldn’t put themselves in danger, of course.” Of course one should help, but what one concretely does or shouldn’t do depends entirely on the situation — for instance, whether or not the offender is armed. “In this case we’re talking about an instance where one instead shouldn’t have intervened. One is, after all, not armed in return.”
Immediately called the police
But it is great that the 27-year-old immediately called 911 for the police once he noticed the two men with the axe at the Berliner Strasse subway station. “That’s exactly what one should do when one observes such a situation,” the spokeswoman says.
Also it is important to report the direction in which the offenders flee. But one should never try to stop an armed, fleeing offender. it’s also sensible to request of other witnesses that they remain until the Police arrive, so that they can be asked questions about the situation.
Scream loud, but don’t try to stop fleeing offenders
When one is in a dangerous or threatening situation, one could scream loudly in order to get attention or to possibly unsettle the offender and prompt him to flee. One could — when one witnesses such a situation — also yell: “I have called the police!” If such a scenario takes place on a train, it is advisable to pull the emergency brake. But — as far as possible — one should always keep a certain distance from an offender. “Especially when they are armed,” the spokeswoman advises.
“One should never provoke an offender verbally, although one may try to divert his attention by talking to him so that he may stop attacking a victim, or in order to at least stall looming violence.”
By way of speaking to others consciously, one can also organize help in so far as one could say: “Now we all help together!”