SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It was Friday afternoon, on the campus of Sac State, and according to officers the brazen suspect, in this case, 33-year-old Aaron Avitan had just stolen a CHP patrol car and blocked the path of a shuttle bus full of students from Delta College.
18-year-old Rajan Nathaniel was on that bus and knew something was wrong when the man kicked off the bus driver and got behind the wheel.
“At that point, we asked for his badge number. He didn’t give us his badge number and began to drive the bus. He jumped the curb and started driving” Nathaniel said.
Nathaniel scanned the man’s waistband for a gun and knew he wasn’t a real officer.
“Because I have cops and stuff in my family and they usually have their concealed carry on them when they’re off duty, so he wasn’t an off-duty cop”
After about a mile the bus-jacker pulled up to a stop light and told the students to get out. But Nathaniel says the door wouldn’t open, and when he saw the suspect about to drive again, he thought they were trapped, so that’s when he decided to make a bold, daring and heroic move.
“So at that point, I got up and put him in a chokehold. Generally, they’re supposed to go to sleep after three to five seconds. He didn’t go to sleep so I threw him to the side, he starts flailing his arms trying to punch me. I avoided a couple and had to fight back to defend myself. I got him a couple times in the face, body,” he said.
Nathaniel and others were able to restrain the suspect until officers boarded the bus about a minute later.
“Officers came, guns drawn, and AR-15’s drawn,” he said.
Nathaniel is already an active member of the Delta College campus community, serving as Vice President of Student Affairs. But his new title of “hero” is something he says he’s still getting used to.
“I wouldn’t say, hero, I mean obviously I’m honored by that title. I was just trying to make sure everybody got home to their families,” Nathaniel said.
Nathaniel says his Christian faith kept him calm during the entire ordeal. He wants to erase the stigma of attending community college and is studying to become a physician.