Guard who took down Toronto machete attacker says he's no hero

The private security guard who took down a machete-wielding man outside a downtown Toronto shopping centre yesterday says he wasn't afraid while tackling the suspect.

Nathaniel McNeil praised for his 'football-style' tackle of man charged with attempted murder

Security guard Nathaniel McNeil used a football-style tackle to take down a machete-wielding man on Wednesday. He shrugged off suggestions he was a hero: 'I was just doing my job.' (CBC)

The private security guard who took down a machete-wielding man outside a downtown Toronto shopping centre yesterday says he wasn't afraid while tackling the suspect. 

"I didn't have time to think, I just did what I was trained to do," Nathaniel McNeil told reporters at a news conference today. "I wasn't even thinking about being scared. I just wanted to stop what he was doing and think about the safety of the people."

Nathaniel, who is six feet four inches tall and weighs 270 pounds, knocked the suspect to the floor by tackling him from behind football-style. His boss called it a textbook takedown. 

"We are proud of the actions of our security staff in the handling of this dangerous situation," said Ted Salter, vice-president of McNeil's employer, Paragon Security. Salter said without the intervention of McNeil and another guard, Phillip Bonaparte, "the outcome could have been much worse."

Arlington Thompson, 35, of Queens, N.Y., has been charged with attempted murder in connection with a machete attack in downtown Toronto on Wednesday. (Pam Davies/CBC)

McNeil told the news conference how he moved toward the entrance doors of the Atrium shopping centre on Bay Street at Dundas West. Spying from inside, McNeil saw that the suspect's back was to him. That's when he quickly moved through the doors and jumped the suspect from behind. 

"I'm pretty big but I had to go quickly and hard," said McNeil. 

McNeil scoffed at suggestions that he is a hero. 

"I'm just doing my job, that's it," he said.  "It's a relief that somebody like that are off the streets."

Moments before the takedown, a man was injured in a machete attack that police say was unprovoked.

The attack happened just after 4:30 p.m. as the streets were full of last-minute shoppers.

Witnesses said the accused attacker was swinging a machete at a male victim, 30, who was on the sidewalk and trying to defend himself with his feet. The victim suffered knife wounds to his head and leg. A bystander tried to stop the attack, intervening long enough to allow the victim to run inside a nearby building. 

That's when the suspect moved toward the Atrium entrance, where McNeil executed his takedown. 

Police said yesterday the injured man is in stable condition. 

The suspect was arrested by police shortly after McNeil knocked him to the floor and placed him in handcuffs.

​Arlington Thompson, 35, of Queens, N.Y., was arrested at the scene and is charged with: 

  • Attempted murder. 
  • Aggravated assault.
  • Weapons dangerous. 
  • Assault with a weapon. 

Thompson is scheduled to appear in court today.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?