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Passer-by tackles cellphone thief and helps a high school student

Published: Sunday, July 5 2015 3:41 p.m. MDT

Police arrested 22-year-old Grant Tingey Tuesday, March 26, 2013, for investigation of robbery. They say he snatched a cellphone out of a teen's hands and took off. A bystander tackled him and held him until police arrived. (Jared Hargrave, Deseret News) Police arrested 22-year-old Grant Tingey Tuesday, March 26, 2013, for investigation of robbery. They say he snatched a cellphone out of a teen's hands and took off. A bystander tackled him and held him until police arrived. (Jared Hargrave, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A man on his way home from work Tuesday ended the day as a hero for one young woman when he tackled a suspected thief on the run.

It all started when a man snatched a cellphone right out of the hand of West High student Elizabeth Amha as she walked along 300 West near EnergySolutions Arena in downtown Salt Lake City.

"When he was passing me, he grabbed my phone and then started running off to the street," Amha said. “I thought it was someone I knew, but it wasn’t.”

At that point, she acted on instinct.

"I just dropped my bag and everything and started chasing after him," she said.

Christopher Knowlton saw a girl yelling and chasing a man near EnergySolutions Arena Tuesday, March 26, 2013, in Salt Lake City. He couldn't ignore the situation, so he followed the thief and then tackled him in the road. He then waited for police to arrive before release the man. (Jared Hargrave, Deseret News ) Christopher Knowlton saw a girl yelling and chasing a man near EnergySolutions Arena Tuesday, March 26, 2013, in Salt Lake City. He couldn't ignore the situation, so he followed the thief and then tackled him in the road. He then waited for police to arrive before release the man. (Jared Hargrave, Deseret News )

She chased the man to a parking lot at the end of the street. She even followed him into an elevator. She said she wasn't scared.

"I tried to talk to him one-on-one. He wouldn't listen to me," she said. "I told him I could help him out and stuff."

When the elevator doors opened, the man ran again. So did Amha.

"I was yelling and screaming for the longest time and nobody came," she said.

That's when Christopher Knowlton, who was walking to his car after work, saw what was happening.

“He was booking across the street and she said, ‘Help, he stole from me,’” he said.

Elizabeth Amha is all smiles after getting her cellphone back thanks to a Good Samaritan. Amha said a man snatched the phone out of her hand while she was talking to someone and then ran down the street Tuesday, March 26, 2013. She chased him, but it wasn't until Christopher Knowlton jumped in to help that she was able to get the phone back. (Jared Hargrave, Deseret News ) Elizabeth Amha is all smiles after getting her cellphone back thanks to a Good Samaritan. Amha said a man snatched the phone out of her hand while she was talking to someone and then ran down the street Tuesday, March 26, 2013. She chased him, but it wasn't until Christopher Knowlton jumped in to help that she was able to get the phone back. (Jared Hargrave, Deseret News )

He said he thought it was just a boyfriend and girlfriend arguing, but when he saw Amha crying, he couldn't ignore it.

From his car, Knowlton followed the thief as he ran down 300 West.

"Hurried and cut him off, got out of the car and tackled him in the road, and just held him there," Knowlton said.

He said he didn’t think about the potential danger of the situation. “I was a high school wrestler, so I wasn’t too worried about that,” he said.

Amha thanked Knowlton with a big hug.

“God bless him. He’s a good guy,” she said.

Grant Tingey, 22, was booked into jail for investigation of robbery.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

E-mail: syi@ksl.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company