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Bus rider who jumped armed robber: It was 'pure instinct' and 'a bad idea'

Dec. 20, 2013 at 8:46 AM ET

In hindsight, Casey Borgen says he wouldn’t have confronted the armed thief. In reality, the hero jumped the gunman who had already taken several cell phones by the time he got to Borgen.

In a widely seen surveillance video from a Seattle city bus, the robber is seen walking up to his seated victim and pointing a gun at his face. Borgen immediately pulled the pistol out of the way and tackled the guy before other bus passengers helped subdue the suspect.

“From my perspective, I just looked up and saw the gun. A lot of people thought that it was a conscious action to try and take him down but it was something that was pure instinct,” he told TODAY on Friday in an exclusive interview. “I recall thinking as it was happening, it was a bad idea. Once that happened, it was one of those things where it had to be carried to its logical (end).”

The gunman, 19-year-old Trevonnte Brown, faces two counts of first-degree robbery, one count of attempted first-degree robbery and a second-degree robbery charge. He is being held on bond in King County jail.

Authorities released the surveillance video this week, although the incident occurred on Nov. 25. The video shows Borgen with his headphones on, lost in his thoughts listening to music when the gunman approached him.

“It was on shuffle. I honestly couldn’t tell you what I was listening to,” he said.

Borgen said he has thought a lot about that moment, and the idea of being mugged for a smart phone.

“It’s so preposterous, like, ‘You can take my phone,’” he said. He definitely wouldn’t repeat his actions if he had a chance to revisit the instant.

“But in the moment, with no real understanding about why a gun was being pointed at me, something came over me,” he said. “I didn’t have any sorts of thoughts about doing a good deed or anything. But the people who did, who jumped in, I think those are the people — they had the choice, and they chose to help.”

Borgen admitted his response amazed his friends and family, especially his wife. But it also surprised himself.

“I’m fairly mild-mannered, no martial arts training or anything like that. When I think about it rationally, I definitely wouldn’t have taken those actions but one thing led to another,” he said.

Borgen said he still commutes on the same Seattle bus and nothing about his daily routine has changed since that fateful day.

“It’s something that doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “I don’t think that not riding the bus is the answer.”

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