Good Samaritan helps deputy capture felon during struggle

Malcolm Mespelt, a former police officer in the Oregon Army National Guard, stopped to help a Polk County Sheriff's Office deputy who was struggling with a suspect. (KATU Photo)

Call it intuition.

Last Friday Malcolm Mespelt didn't hesitate to act on it.

He was on his way to Keizer from Dallas on Highway 22, when he saw a Polk County deputy having trouble with a man.

“The guy was obviously trying to get away from the officer. I just wanted to make sure everything was OK,” said Mespelt. “Something just didn't look right -- you never know what's going to happen.”

Mespelt decided to pull over, get out of his car, and help Sgt. Tyrone Jenkins pin down the man in a muddy ditch off the highway.

“He just fought the whole time and just incredible strength. The two of us, it was just about all we could do to keep him pinned down,” said Mespelt.

Eventually, more deputies came, used a stun gun, and arrested Hunter Merkel, otherwise known as Jason Feyko.

Merkel tried to run when, deputies say, Sgt. Tyrone Jenkins found a bag of meth on him.

In a statement, Sgt. Jenkins said:

On Friday when I contacted a subject on the shoulder of Highway 22, the contact escalated quickly and we ended up in a muddy field where I was attempting to detain him. We were on the ground and due to how muddy it was I was unable to control him from trying to push and pull away. In my head I was going through all my options of what to do as I was about to lose control of his hands. It was at that moment when a citizen came up beside me and told me that he was there to help. He took control of his legs, which allowed me to control his upper body and hold him there until other the other deputies were able to respond and assist.
I would like to extend my public heartfelt appreciation to that citizen, Mr. Malcolm Mespelt of Salem. My family thanks you. My friends thank you. Malcolm went out of his way to help a stranger. He put himself into an unknown situation and acted selflessly to help me during the time I needed it most. Malcolm did not ask for a thank you, a paycheck, explanation of why I was fighting with a person and he did not give a high five or brag about what he did. He simply provided his information to a deputy, got back in vehicle and drove from the scene.
Again, Malcolm, thank you for what you did and for helping me go home at the end of my shift.

Turns out, helping others is in Mespelt’s blood. He served as a military police officer for the Oregon Army National Guard. He also grew up volunteering with search-and-rescue crews in Linn County. He just signed up to volunteer with the Marion County Search and Rescue Special Vehicles Unit.

“It's part of what I trained for. It's kind of second nature kicks in and you go,” said Mespelt. “It's just doing what was right. I hope more people do it too.”

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