Mark Rothwell doesn't think of himself as a hero.
But when a man pulled a gun on a bank teller next to the 44-year-old Englishman at a Chase branch Thursday evening, he didn't hesitate to play the part.
"There are times to do nothing and there are times to act," he said Friday from his Northeast Portland home.
Rothwell, the owner of London Pride Renovation & Remodeling, doesn't remember precisely how he managed to disarm and pin the robber, but he knows how the encounter began.
He was one of two customers left in the branch inside the Hollywood Fred Meyer, 3030 N.E. Weidler St., about five minutes before its 7 p.m. closing. The former Londoner had tarried to ask about exchange rates in anticipation of a trip home.
A man walked in, pulled out a gun -- which turned out to be a fake -- and demanded cash.
"'Kristen, give me all the cash in the till,'" Rothwell recalled the man saying. "He knew her name, and for a second I thought it was some kind of weird joke."
But Rothwell saw terror on the teller's face. He jumped at the man, knocked the gun away and held him down.
"It's just one of those things," he said, "someone points a gun at a girl just a couple of years older than my own daughter. It just rubbed me the wrong way."
Portland police responded and found a man pinned under another one. "At first they thought I was the suspect," said Rothwell, who was wearing a hoodie.
The suspect, later identified as Curt Michael Cooper, 35, of Portland, was arrested and faces federal charges, said Beth Anne Steele, an FBI spokeswoman.
Chase bank plans to thank Rothwell for his actions. But bank officials, like the FBI, cautioned that people shouldn't put themselves in harm's way.
"We encourage our customers to exercise caution in these situations because it could be very dangerous," said Darcy Donahoe-Wilmott, a Chase spokeswoman.
Neighbor Becky Farmer, whose husband works at Rothwell's 6-year-old construction company, says that's just the type of person Rothwell is.
"It's nice to see people draw the line and say, 'No, this isn't going to happen,'" Farmer said.
A former neighbor, Ann Robinson, said she wasn't surprised when her husband told her what Rothwell had done.
"He's just the type to take charge and do that," Robinson said. "If somebody's drowning, he'd jump in and save them."
Friday afternoon, Rothwell appeared nonplussed by the incident as he prepared for an evening game of indoor soccer and discussed the merits of English tea and his favorite English football team, Chelsea. He's married and has a teen-age son as well as daughter.
The fit general contractor, who bears a passing resemblance to Liam Neeson's doting and deadly dad from the 2008 film "Taken," said it wasn't time spent in the military, police or a boxing gym that helped him to take the man down.
"I grew up on the rough streets of (Greenwich) London," said Rothwell, who now describes himself as a middle-aged softie. "Let's just say it's nice to be on the right side of the law this time."
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