An NHL defenceman who became an unlikely hero after breaking up an attempted theft on Sunday is describing how the incident went down.
Mark Borowiecki, an alternate captain with the Ottawa Senators, aptly nicknamed Borocop, was in Vancouver for his team’s matchup with the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night.
He said the incident shaped up when he was in Gastown shopping for baby clothes after lunch. According to Vancouver police, it unfolded around 1:30 p.m., near Granville and West Cordova streets.
“I saw this suspicious guy kind of shuffling around, and he had a bike with him,” Borowiecki said.
“I hear this huge bang, and I just hear this blue Chevy Impala, the passenger side window just shatters.”
Borowiecki said he saw the man wrestle a large hiking backpack out of the car, and yelled at him to stop.
“I was like, ‘Put the bag down bro,’ and he was yelling and swearing at me and telling me to go away and stuff,” Borowiecki said, adding that he crossed the street towards the man, repeatedly telling him to stop.
“At this point I started running towards him because I knew he was going to take the bag.”
Borowiecki said the man then climbed onto his bike and tried to get away.
“He took like three hard pedals towards me. I don’t know if he thought he was going to ram me or thought I was going to jump out of the way,” he said.
“I had my baby stuff in my right hand, so with my left arm I just sort of like, reflex, like, ‘I’ll clear the air.'”
The six-foot-two, 203-pound, 30-year-old NHLer said as the man approached, he thought carefully about what would happen next.
“My first thought was if I absolutely destroy this guy and he gets hurt, what are the legal ramifications for me, because I could have done some damage,” he said.
“So I was like, I’ll try and do this as gently as I can, so I kind of hooked my left arm under his arm and pulled him off the bike to the ground.
“If he pulled something sharp I was going to drop my baby supplies and crack him one.”
The suspect fled, but Borowiecki held onto the bag — which, it turns out, had passports inside.
He said he called police and waited with the vehicle, which also had snowboarding gear in it, until they arrived.
Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer commended Borowiecki for his actions, though cautioned he didn’t want to see the public put themselves at risk by following the defenceman’s lead.
“But I know he was a fit young guy and took this guy into custody, so I appreciate what he did, but for other citizens you always have to be cautious when you’re doing that. Better to be a witness and call us,” said Palmer.
“His crime fighting — if it doesn’t work out in the hockey field, we’re always recruiting.”
On Tuesday, he was insistent that he hadn’t done anything “above and beyond,” and that intervening was just the “right thing to do.”
Borowiecki said he’s since spoken to the owner of the bag, who was shocked to learn he was an Ottawa Senator.
“She was like, ‘Oh, I’m actually a huge Leafs fan,” he said.
“I was like, I can forgive a couple of Leafs fans.”