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Blind veteran takes down attacker in Oklahoma City

A blind Army veteran walking with his guide dog to an Oklahoma City bus stop was attacked by a man who said he'd help him ‘see God.' The veteran held the man down until police arrived.
by Juliana Keeping Modified: May 1, 2013 at 9:41 pm •  Published: May 1, 2013

A blind veteran took down an attacker who punched him after demanding he remove his dark glasses so he could “see God.”

Gordan Allen Besaw, 51, of Bethany, was walking to the bus stop Tuesday morning in Oklahoma City with his guide dog, Derby, for an appointment at the VA Medical Center. That's when he was attacked.

Besaw, an Army veteran who is blind due to glaucoma, said he grabbed his attacker by the collar before throwing him to the ground and putting him in a headlock. The confrontation occurred about 8:15 a.m. in the 5900 block of NW 23, according to a police incident report.

“I was walking to the bus stop. I never made it,” Besaw said Wednesday. “The guy approached me and said, ‘Are you blind? Take your glasses off. I can make you see God before I see God.'”

Besaw prefers avoiding violence. He gave the man multiple chances to leave him alone. He told police it wasn't clear if his attacker wanted to try to cure his blindness or kill him.

“The next thing I know, he hit me in the forehead,” Besaw said. “He hit me two more times.”

Besaw said he fell back on Army training to take down his attacker.

He dropped his dog's leash and told Derby to stay put.

“When he hit me the last time, I just kind of snapped,” he said. “I just went into reflex. I just reached out. Once I knew I had him I just pulled him towards me. It just happened so fast after that.”

‘I'm strong, too'

Even though he was being attacked, Besaw said he did not want the German shepherd to bite the man. A witness picked up Derby's leash as Besaw, who is 5-foot-4 and 170 pounds, took down the attacker, who was 5-foot-6, 155 pounds and 24 years Besaw's junior.

Using his hip, Besaw tossed the man to the ground and put him in a choke hold, telling Derby, again, to stay, Besaw said.

“He kept saying how strong he was, that he was ready to see God and take me with him,” Besaw said.

“I said, ‘I'm strong, too.'”

Besaw said he works out every day, but his strength during the attack surprised him.

“I'm not in as good of shape as I want to be, but I'm in better shape than what I thought I was,” he said.

Witnesses called 911, but no one volunteered to help Besaw hold his attacker on the ground. He thinks Derby intimidated the crowd.

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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I try to be as independent as I possibly can, because I don't want to be a burden on other people. So I work very hard, every day, going over everything that I learned.”

Gordan Allen Besaw,
Besaw, a blind veteran, fought off an attacker on his way to a bus stop.


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