Off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent Bernie Ramirez ended a stabbing incident inside a Midland Sam’s Club by taking decisive action that saved lives.

During a March 14 visit to family in Midland, Ramirez and his wife stopped at Sam’s after a movie. As they finished shopping and made their way to the register, Ramirez heard a commotion nearby, turned, and saw a physical altercation. His initial thought was that two people were fighting over supplies that were becoming scarce in the wake of coronavirus hoarding.

“I went over there to break it up, and I heard a woman screaming and a baby crying,” said Ramirez. “That’s when I knew this was something more than a simple altercation.”

What he found was Sam’s employee Zack Owen on the ground with a choke hold on assailant Jose L. Gomez III.

Ramirez showed his badge and drew his duty weapon, and that’s when Owen said, “This guy just stabbed someone. He’s got a knife.”

Ramirez saw blood all around, intervened, and held Gomez down.

“That’s when I knew the severity of the situation. The Midland police showed up, and took custody of Gomez,” he said. “I was just doing my duty as a federal officer. Zack is the one who stepped up. Had he not taken decisive action the way he did, I believe lives would have lost that day. Later on I found out the extent of Zack’s injuries.”

Owen was stabbed in the thigh, and received extensive injuries to his hands from removing the knife from the assailant.

Midland police arrested Gomez, 19, and the FBI is investigating it as a hate crime. According to Ramirez, the family he assaulted were Burmese nationals of Asian descent. Gomez stabbed a baby, another child, the children’s father, and Owen.

According to court documents, Gomez allegedly admitted to trying to kill the family. He was charged with three counts of attempted capital murder, and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

A Border Patrol agent since 2001, Ramirez has been with the Big Bend Sector Intelligence Unit since 2009, starting his service in Lordsburg, New Mexico, and then moving on to Sanderson. He lives in Alpine with his wife and four children.

A tearful Ramirez said, “I was just doing my part. I feel that God placed me there, and I’m glad that he did. But I want to give credit where credit is due. Zack Owen was the one who took decisive action, took the individual down, and disarmed him. Had he not done that, I know there would have been multiple lives lost. I’m just glad God placed me there to help Zack and the other customers at the store.”

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