An off-duty San Jose Police Sergeant intervened in a recent in-progress strong-armed robbery on a BART train and arrested the suspect. On February 11th, 2013, at approximately 10:25 A.M., Sergeant Fredrick Kotto, an 18 year veteran of the Department, and his fiancee were riding a Dublin / Livermore BART train bound for San Francisco on their way to get their marriage certificate. During the ride, Sgt. Kotto heard a loud commotion behind him. Sgt. Kotto turned to see several people in a physical altercation and heard someone yell out, “Stop him! He tried to rob me! Stop him please!”
Sgt. Kotto approached and continued to hear on-lookers yelling out, “Hit the alarm” and “Call the police.” Sgt. Kotto observed the suspect standing atop a seat with several passengers around her trying to prevent her from fleeing. Sgt. Kotto saw the suspect pushing the other passengers and trying to escape. One passenger tried to deploy a stun-gun type weapon on the suspect, however the suspect was able to defeat the attempt.
Sgt. Kotto became concerned that the suspect might be able to escape unidentified so he blocked the suspect’s path. Sgt. Kotto raised his shirt to display his SJPD badge and off-duty weapon and ordered the suspect to the ground. As Sgt. Kotto then grabbed the suspect’s left arm, the suspect tried to pull away. Sgt. Kotto then pulled the suspect to the floor of the train and applied a wrist-lock control hold. As Sgt. Kotto tried to calm the suspect, she continued to struggle. Eventually, Sgt. Kotto was able to verbally calm the suspect and she stopped fighting.
Moments later, the train came to the next stop (West Oakland) and uniformed BART police officers boarded the train and took custody of the suspect. Several passengers cheered and applauded the efforts of Sgt. Kotto and the BART officers. The victim approached Sgt. Kotto and said, “I want to thank you. Thank you so much.”
Sgt. Kotto then asked the BART officers if he could provide his statement at a later time so he would not miss his marriage certificate appointment. The BART officers were understanding and Sgt. Kotto and his fiancee made it to their appointment with 4 minutes to spare! Sgt. Kotto later phoned BART detectives and provided his account of the incident. Sgt. Kotto is a veteran Special Operations METRO officer and is currently assigned as an Internal Affairs Investigator.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has subsequently filed charges against the suspect for one count of robbery. The suspect’s probation was revoked as well.
“Fred’s actions on that day don’t surprise me at all,” said Acting Chief Larry Esquivel of the incident. “If I were that robber, the last person I’d want to see is Fred Kotto,” the Chief added jokingly.