Crime

Local men awarded for stopping attacker with gun in Ripon

Two men were honored by Ripon police Chief Ed Ormonde on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, for their actions during a violent attack on one of their friends. Grant Widmer, of Lathrop, and Logan Miller, of Oakdale, wrestled a sawed-off shot gun away from a man who assaulted and tried to kidnap and rape their friend in the parking lot of the Ripon Bike Bridge in June 2014. From left, Ormonde, Miller, Widmer and Detective Gordon West.
Two men were honored by Ripon police Chief Ed Ormonde on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, for their actions during a violent attack on one of their friends. Grant Widmer, of Lathrop, and Logan Miller, of Oakdale, wrestled a sawed-off shot gun away from a man who assaulted and tried to kidnap and rape their friend in the parking lot of the Ripon Bike Bridge in June 2014. From left, Ormonde, Miller, Widmer and Detective Gordon West. Ripon Police Department

Two men were honored by Ripon police Chief Ed Ormonde on Wednesday for their actions during a violent attack on one of their friends.

Grant Widmer, of Lathrop, and Logan Miller, of Oakdale, wrestled a sawed-off shotgun away from a man who assaulted and tried to kidnap and rape their friend in the parking lot of the Ripon Bike Bridge in June 2014.

The suspect, 35-year-old Jose Vasquez Sanchez of Hughson, accosted the victim while she was with a group of friends. Sanchez demanded sex from the victim and grabbed the shotgun from his vehicle. He chased her and held her at gunpoint while assaulting her, according to Ripon police.

Widmer wrestled the weapon away from the suspect and Miller joined in, eventually subduing Sanchez until Ripon police arrived minutes later. The men were given the Chief’s Award for their heroic actions.

“I felt pretty honored,” Widmer said Wednesday. “I didn’t realize it was a big deal.”

The graduate of Sierra High School in Manteca said he and friends arrived at the bike bridge around noon with plans to float on the Stanislaus River. They parked their vehicle about three spots away from Sanchez, and noticed he began following the group.

Widmer said Sanchez began accosting the woman and the situation escalated before Sanchez went back to his vehicle to get the shotgun. The group of seven then dispersed.

Two women ran between nearby houses and Sanchez, who got back in his vehicle, followed them there, Widmer said. He cornered the women, and let one of the them go before attacking the other.

Widmer followed and tried to reason with Sanchez. He said Sanchez got flustered, and attempted to cock the gun. Widmer took that split second to grab the weapon. The victim ran away and Miller jumped in and began punching Sanchez in the face.

They held Sanchez before an officer arrived shortly after to take him into custody.

“When he pulled the gun out, it felt surreal, like a dream,” Widmer said. “From the time he pulled the gun to the time it was over, it was about seven or eight minutes. But it felt like an hour or two had gone by. Each minute felt like a lifetime.”

In August, Sanchez was sentenced to 16 years in state prison for the attack.

Widmer, working on his master’s degree in sociology at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, testified at the trial last summer.

On Wednesday, along with Miller, his best friend since eighth grade, Widmer accepted the honor in front of family and friends. He credited others in his group for playing a role in stopping the attack.

“I just thought it was something that most everyone got,” he said of the award. “When I showed up and heard only two other people got it before us, I felt pretty honored, pretty blessed.”

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