Eric Fullerton says he didn't feel his skin being sliced when Curtis Allgier cut his throat, but he did feel the cold steel of the serrated knife and hear his flesh ripping.
Fullerton, a 59-year-old truck driver, was cut several times along the right side of his throat while struggling with Allgier, 27, for control of a pistol.
The fight took place Monday morning after Allgier attempted to take patrons and employees hostage inside a Salt Lake City Arby's restaurant, Fullerton said Tuesday.
Allgier ran into the Arby's at the end of a high-speed chase that began after the slaying of corrections officer Stephen Anderson, 60, at a University of Utah medical clinic and Allgier's escape from custody.
Fullerton, who has been called a hero for his actions, said he was in line at the restaurant when the heavily tattooed prisoner ran inside, pointing a gun.
"I just wanted to get a sandwich," Fullerton said, smiling. "I didn't go there for my morning workout."
When Allgier rushed in, he waved the gun wildly and told customers to get on the ground, Fullerton recalled. The fugitive then ran into the kitchen, grabbed one of the workers around the neck and hollered, "Don't move or I'll shoot you."
But the employee did move and a shot was fired. Somehow, the employee wasn't hit, Fullerton said. But by then, Fullerton, a Vietnam-era Army paratrooper, knew people were going to die unless he took action.
"I thought, 'OK, we got a problem here he's going to kill somebody,"' Fullerton said. "(Allgier) had a grin on his face the whole time, like he was enjoying it or having fun. No remorse whatsoever."
So the truck driver jumped over the service counter and wrested the gun from Allgier.
"I don't know where I got the strength," the 5-foot, 6 1/2-inch Fullerton said. "I just knew I couldn't let go (of the gun) or I would be dead."
Allgier, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, stands 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs about 200 pounds.
During the struggle, Allgier tried to stop Fullerton by pointing the gun at him and also grabbed a serrated knife and sliced Fullerton's throat, he said.
Fullerton said he barely noticed the slashes from the knife because he was focused on using the strength of his hands to take control of the gun.
Once he secured the weapon, Fullerton aimed it at Allgier. Moments later, police stormed the Redwood Road Arby's and arrested Allgier.
When paramedics arrived, Fullerton's clothes were so drenched in blood that emergency workers thought he had been shot, he said. He was rushed to the hospital and required seven stitches to close one of the gashes in his neck.
Later in the afternoon, Fullerton returned to his job at California Packaging & Display, where his boss told him to go home early. And he did, but only after finally buying himself some food.4 comments on this story
Tuesday, though he was sore from head to toe, Fullerton returned to work and tried to put the ordeal behind him. He said he forgives Allgier for trying to kill him and hopes he will receive a fair and speedy trial.