270-lb. ex-lineman tackles robber fleeing Rogers SuperAmerica

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 15, 2012 - 10:12 PM

Rogers man shrugged off concerns, saying, "I've always thought if you could help somebody, you just do it."

 John Daiker and his son, Stevie
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John Daiker and his son, Stevie.

Photo: ., Photo courtesy John Daiker

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A burly SuperAmerica customer had a Superman-like moment and summoned up his years chasing quarterbacks by tackling a teenage robber who was armed with a handgun outside the convenience store in Rogers.

The heroics unfolded before the eyes of a police officer who was staking out the business shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday because of numerous armed robberies of SuperAmericas in the metro area in recent days, said Police Chief Jeffrey Beahen.

While the suspect was nabbed and no shots were fired, Beahen said that "we advise against" citizens taking such risks. "In this case, [the man] was much bigger than the suspect, but still [it's] dangerous," Beahen added.

John Daiker, 38, of Rogers, shrugged off the chief's concerns, saying, "I've always thought if you could help somebody, you just do it."

And this is how the 6-foot-3, 270-pound Daiker, a former Milaca High School and Central Lakes Community College defensive end, said he did it:

The stay-at-home dad said he was getting gas and noticed the teen walking across the parking lot, "obviously up to no good," wearing a bandana over his face and a hunting hat.

"I pretended to wash my windows to see what was going to go on," Daiker said. "He went in there, basically started robbing the place. He went up behind [the clerk]. She turned around, and you could see that she was freaking out."

Daiker pulled his van up to the store to block one of the doors and then yelled at another customer outside to call police.

"Then [the suspect] looked at me, and I saw that he had a gun," Daiker continued. "He bolted, and I tried to beat him to the door, but he took off."

It was at that moment, Daiker said, that "I did my best John Randle imitation and plowed him over. My full intention was to knock the wind out of him. ... I wasn't going to give him a chance [to shoot]. The gun fell out of his hands, and I threw it."

Daiker said the weapon looked and felt like a BB gun.

Daiker put the teen "in a front headlock. I had his head and his arm, and I was squeezing him" until police showed up almost immediately.

Thanks to Daiker, the store's cash was recovered, as was the gun, which indeed turned out to be a BB gun. The 17-year-old from Fridley is in custody, along with a 17-year-old girl from Shoreview who allegedly drove the suspect to the store.

No doubt, Daiker said, his football skills made a difference. "This is what it's like getting the quarterback, pretty good," said Daiker, who also played some semi-pro ball after college in central Minnesota and came away on Tuesday night with just a few scrapes.

Authorities have video surveillance of the drama, but Hennepin County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Lisa Kiava said it would not be released "at this time because it is an active investigation."

Despite Beahen's advice against citizens confronting armed criminals, Daiker will join the officer who responded to the scene and they will be given commendations for their actions at a City Council meeting on Thursday night.

"If he pulled the gun on me, OK, whatever" and he lets him go, Daiker said, recalling his thinking at the time. "But if he doesn't, then he's scared to use it or it's not real."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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 John Daiker and his son, Stevie