What began as an ordinary evening for four staff members of Bedok Mall’s G2000 outlet on 27 December 2017 turned out very differently instead. They were assisting customers when they heard a commotion outside their store.
“Safety was my first thought – the safety of our customers and staff.”
“I stepped out of the store to see what was happening,” recounted Suzanah Binte Mohd Nor, 38, Supervisor of the G2000 outlet. “Suddenly, a young man holding a pair of scissors appeared at the entrance. He pushed the Sensormatic security detection panels, which fell to the ground with a loud bang,” added the 38-year-old. “The store alarm went off. We were all shocked.”
Then the scissors-wielding teenager moved to a neighbouring store. Acting quickly, Suzanah’s colleague, Tedjay Naranjo, pulled down the store’s shutters while Suzanah alerted the authorities about the unfolding situation. “The young man looked fierce and strong. We were fearful that he’d come back to our store,” shared Tedjay.
As a further precaution, staff members ushered customers to the back of the store. “Safety was my first thought – the safety of our customers and staff. I looked around to quickly ascertain the condition of everyone in the store, to visibly check that no one was hurt or in danger,” said Suzanah.
Help was already at hand. Off-duty Singapore Police Force (SPF) officer Station Inspector (SI) Sofian Othman, 35, was trailing the teenager not far away.
On vacation leave that day, SI Sofian had just bought a sandwich and a bottle of mineral water for dinner when his attention was drawn to a teenager who looked like any other casually dressed youth but who was shouting and gesturing as he made his way from store to store.
SI Sofian knew he had to act quickly on his “policeman instincts” to prevent the teenager from inflicting harm on others or himself. When the teenager was absorbed in one of his tirades, SI Sofian made his move, swiftly disarming him from the back and pinning him down with the help of four members of the public.
“It was chaotic,” SI Sofian said. “I snatched the scissors away and pinned the lower part of the subject’s body while the others prevented him from moving.”
The teenager continued struggling and repeatedly said he hadn’t taken his medication. Concerned for his well-being, SI Sofian tried to engage him in a conversation, asking if he was okay and the type of medical help he required. SI Sofian also attempted to search for any medication that might be on the teenager.
“I’m alert 24 hours, even when I’m overseas. It is a Police officer’s first instinct.”
The teenager calmed down and SI Sofian offered him the bottled water that he’d purchased earlier for his own dinner. Within minutes, the Police arrived and SI Sofian handed the teenager over, briefing his fellow officers on the incident before continuing on home.
While there were previous instances where SI Sofian had intervened when he was off-duty, this was the first time he’d faced such a dramatic situation off-duty. The 35-year-old credited the swift resolution of the incident to the members of public who rose to the occasion.
In view of the heightened security climate, he expressed how heartened he was that the public exemplified the spirit of the SGSecure movement in remaining alert and prepared.
His words of advice to members of public who wish to help in similar situations? “Always consider your personal safety first,” he said. “Only step forward if you’re sure of your own safety.”
SI Sofian hasn’t returned to Bedok Mall since that incident, but rest assured, he’ll continue being the Home Team Guardian that he is. “I’m alert 24 hours, even when I’m overseas. It is a Police officer’s first instinct.”
26 January 2018