MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —  Firefighters from Minneapolis Fire Station Eight say quick thinking and teamwork helped them take down an assault suspect who had followed a woman looking for safety late Thursday night.

Fire Captain Colm Black says shortly after 7:30 p.m., he was working to move vehicles inside the station and out of the cold when he noticed something was wrong.

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“I walked into a scene – a car had come the wrong way down Blaisdell and pulled into our station. There was a woman to my left and a car to my right,” Black said. “The woman looked at me and said, ‘This man is following me, I’m scared.’ I could see fear in her eyes.”

Black says he told the man, later identified as 52-year-old Shawn Coates, to leave.

“As I was walking in, he accelerated his car and attempted to hit me,” Black said.

The truck Coates was driving slammed into the fire station’s open apparatus bay doors. That’s when other firefighters at the station joined in, using equipment from the area to smash the truck’s tires and puncture its hood.

“My mind was, I just wanted to make sure everyone was safe,” said Fire Captain Bilal Atiq. “Once we came in and he dropped his hands and said he didn’t have a gun, that’s when I knew it was time we had to take him down as quickly and strongly as we could.”

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Black, Atiq and several others wrestled Coates to the ground. The woman trying to escape him was able to get to safety.

“She was grateful to have a place of refuge she could come to in that situation. We were happy to be there for that for her in that respect,” said firefighter Nathan Witt.

Police were on the scene shortly after and took Coates to Hennepin County Jail, where he awaits several charges that could land him in prison for more than seven years if convicted.

Black says this incident serves as a reminder that fire stations throughout the city are always available to help someone in need.

“Our station is open to anyone who feels unsafe and needs help. We’re open 24/7. That’s our job,” Black said.

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Adam Duxter