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Dover man honored after tackling armed suspect during police chase in his neighborhood

Emily Lytle
Delaware News Journal

Mike Babiak was playing soccer with his family in the front yard of their home near Silver Lake one recent December afternoon when he noticed a Dover police officer chasing a man down the street.

When the officer, Master Cpl. Ian Thompson, shouted at Babiak and his family to go inside, Babiak heard something different: “Get him.”

As the suspect was running toward Babiak, he turned toward the police officer and pulled out a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol from his jacket pocket. That’s when Babiak came from behind and tackled the suspect to the ground, the collision of the two men causing the gun to fall from the suspect’s hands.

From left: Dover Police Chief Thomas Johnson, Master Cpl. Ian Thompson, Mike Babiak and his daughter Katie Babiak.

Not only did Babiak’s quick actions help Dover police arrest the suspect, but Thompson and Police Chief Thomas Johnson agreed that he likely saved lives by preventing a shootout.

The chief related these events during a small ceremony at the Dover Police Department Jan. 8 as the department recognized Babiak with a Distinguished Citizen Award.

As Dover's top officer narrated the blind-sided tackle, Babiak’s 8-year-old daughter, Katie, sat tall on a chair in the front row and wrapped her arms around herself to imitate the “bear hug” tactic her dad used to take down the suspect.

Already bouncing with excitement, Katie nodded her head vigorously, saying "yeah," she most certainly thinks her dad is a hero.

“I thought it was really cool, and I’m really proud of him,” she said. 

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In her eyes, her dad – who wrestled in high school and served in the Army – would always be the man to protect her, whether that's from a man with a gun or a zombie apocalypse, she joked. 

Katie Babiak, 8, looks at the award her father received for helping Dover police arrest a suspect during a foot chase. Her mother Liz Babiak looks on.

Her mother, Liz Babiak, said she knew instantly that her husband would try and help the officer.

“When I saw the guy running, I knew it was going to be his instinct to take him down,” she said. “He was going to protect his family and protect the neighborhood.”

Even though Babiak did not know the suspect was armed until seeing the gun on the ground, the police chief said that does not diminish “the courage that he displayed in the defense of his family and his community.”

“In his mind, he was called to serve," Johnson said. "And he answered that call quickly and effectively."

The suspect, 20-year-old Devon Young, was arrested after police said he hit his girlfriend several times in the head while at the Red Roof Inn on Route 13. The victim called 911, and Young ran from the hotel.

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Once found in the area of North New Street, he ran from police, resulting in the chase.

When arrested, Young was found with 70 bags of heroin and the gun with an obliterated serial number. He was charged with offensive touching and resisting arrest, as well as numerous drug and weapon offenses. 

Dover Police Chief Thomas Johnson presents the events of Dec. 28 that led to civilian Mike Babiak tackling a suspect during a police foot chase. Babiak received a Distinguished Citizen Award at the Dover Police Department Jan. 8.

During high-intensity moments like this chase, Master Cpl. Thompson said his first thoughts often go to his family, and he was “extremely grateful” that Babiak’s intervention prevented any lives lost. 

As Babiak stood with his arm around his daughter, Katie clutching the recently awarded certificate, the father said he was flattered by the recognition.

While masks mostly hid his expression, it was clear that the admiration from his family lifted the towering man's stature just a little higher.