Soldier fired for stopping thief

*CCTV footage is located in the update section*

My name is Mark, I’m a former British Army soldier of 5 years and a veteran of the war in Afghan.

Up until Thursday 28th July I was employed as a full time tutor, until I was fired from my job, due to stopping a thief and protecting some bystanders on Hampstead High Street, London.

On Tuesday 26th of July, at approximately 1210, a rough looking thief was chased out of the Reiss clothing shop in Hampstead High Street by an employee. They passed a few feet away from where I was stood, with an older child under my care.

The thief then tried to escape up the hill on Hampstead high street, then descended a few shops down from where I stood with the child, who was visible to me at all times, with the employee still pursuing him. The employee and thief were involved in an ongoing verbal altercation.

There was traffic on the road with both sides of the road walled off. I felt that if he had felt antagonised by the employee and /or came back up the hill, he would be a threat to the child and the general public had he had no options to escape. More so if he were in possession of a weapon.

The Riess employee was getting very close to him, in-between parked cars, inches away from oncoming traffic where vehicles would not be able to react in time if either of them suddenly went on the road, greatly increasing the chances of a fatal injury to them and drivers on the road.

I felt that the employee's life and potentially the general public were in immediate danger. The thief looked desperate and erratic wearing dark clothing, with a hoody and a satchel bag. At this point I wasn’t sure if he was armed and sensed there could be a strong possibility that he might be.

I had a split second to react. I told the child to stay put and ran towards the thief, to stop any advance towards the child, to protect the employee and the general public. While running my phone fell out of my pocket and smashed on the ground. I knew the child couldn’t outrun the thief if he were to chase us and it was better to keep as much distance as possible from him and the child.

I proceeded to bear hug him as the employee was about, waiting to retrieve the stolen items. I was sure the employee would give up chase had we recovered the items and the thief would leave, de-escalating the situation.

He shouted at me to let him go, kicking and fighting back whilst I continued to bear hug him to neutralise his arms. I replied calmly to return the items and I would let him go. The employee retrieved the items from his satchel bag, then I threw him down the hill. She handed me back my phone that was on the ground.

He followed me swearing and spitting while I kicked him in self defence, backing away to maintain distance. I made sure the lady was safe, then immediately ran back to the child, grabbing him and took him into the Reiss store where we waited until the thief fled, empty handed.

The child was unharmed and returned home safely. I suffered some cuts and bruises to my arm and leg and some pain in my foot, where I broke it in October 2020. The fracture was quite bad and I spent 4 months on crutches, losing 15% of my muscle mass and bodyweight as a result. Unfortunately, the incident with the thief had aggravated my injury, causing me pain to walk again. Fortunately though nobody else was hurt.

After I brought the child home, I explained to my employer what happened and after a couple of days of deliberation, they chose to relieve me of my services, with no severance, entirely because of that situation.

The incident happened very quickly and was over in about a couple of minutes. It was completely spontaneous and I only had a split second to react, but I believe I made the right decision based on the immediate circumstances and the potential accidents it could have caused, especially being so close to the road with oncoming traffic. In hindsight, knowing no one would be hurt by my intervention, I would act in the same way again.

I find myself now to be in an uncomfortable and unfortunate situation, where I am out of work in circumstances beyond my control, without money coming in and unlikely to find work in my field, in the immediate future.

The past couple of years have been difficult for me, with the last few months especially so. I was unable to find work for long periods during the pandemic, due to limited opportunities and now after finding work, am again without a job. I appreciate many others are in a similar position and I am far from an isolated case.

However, due to my circumstances, I have reluctantly set up a Gofundme campaign for help with my living expenses while I search for work and help with rehabilitation for my foot. If someone reading this is in a position to donate something to the campaign, I would greatly appreciate it.
Any help is hugely appreciated,

Thank you,

Mark
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