Maryland Firefighter/Medic Stops Attempted Armed Ambulance Theft at Hospital

TAKOMA PARK, Md. (ABC7) — A background in mixed martial arts (MMA) gave a Montgomery County firefighter/medic the upper hand in thwarting the attempted carjacking of an ambulance.

Around 6:30 a.m. Sunday, firefighter/medic Diego De Abreu Peclat Dos Santos (Peclat for short) was at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park with a fellow firefighter/medic. The two had just driven a patient in Medic 701 to the emergency room and were filling out paperwork.

Peclat saw a man — later identified as Christopher Broadus, 27, of Northeast DC — allegedly assault a female nurse, exit the ER and then try to steal Medic 701, which was idling in the ambulance bay. It turned out, Broadus had just been released from the hospital for an undisclosed condition.

Peclat approached Broadus — who’d brandished a knife — and told him to calm down. Although the finer, play-by-play details remain unclear, Peclat ultimately managed to get Broadus on the ground with the assistance of hospital security guards.



At the same time, a “Signal 3” alert was broadcast to Montgomery County’s 911 Center. That’s code for “fire-rescue crew in distress.” That request prompted more than a dozen police officers, firefighters, medics and battalion chiefs to rush to the hospital to assist.

Takoma Park Police Department Dispatch:

Dispatcher: “One Tom 22 and all other units, please respond to the WAH, 7600 Carroll Avenue, 76-00 Carroll Avenue, in reference to a man with a knife. Someone with a knife is trying to take the ambulance. As of now I have no further description. Montgomery is updating the call.”

Dispatcher: “They say he is still in the ambulance entrance, hiding behind the ambulance entrance. Nothing further at the moment.”

Dispatcher: “Copy. And it says the suspect is wearing no shirt with black spandex, and he’s in the ambulance area.”

Takoma Park Police Officer: “Tom 12, the subject is in custody.”

Peclat suffered a few minor cuts to his right hand during the violent altercation. His sleeve tattoo featuring a fireman’s ax and halligan bar, plus the words “Boxe Thai” was (thankfully) unscathed.

“Here you had an assault, an attempted carjacking,” said Pete Piringer, spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service. “I like sandwiches, but I don’t like knuckle sandwiches, and it looks that’s probably what this guy got.”

Medic 701 is housed at Montgomery County Fire Station 1 along Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. The approximately $350,000 vehicle is one of the busiest units in MCFRS’ fleet. According to Piringer, while it is certainly possible to commandeer an ambulance, the mechanics (i.e. air brakes) are far more complicated than your average vehicle.

Takoma Park Police have charged Broadus with a variety of criminal counts including first-degree assault, attempted carjacking, and disorderly conduct.

According to court records, the 27-year-old has an extensive criminal history of drug-related charges. Eyewitnesses in the ER explained Broadus might have been under the influence of PCP at the time of the incident, helping explain his alleged strange behavior. Takoma Park Police say that part of their investigation remains ongoing.

Broadus — who is being held in jail without bond — now faces decades in prison. His next court date is scheduled for August 23, in Montgomery County District Court in Rockville.

“This morning, one of my #1Engine FFs took down a knife-wielding subject suspected to have been on PCP at the ER entrance of a local hospital. He’s okay, a few bruises. BTW Diego’s an MMA fight… subject picked the wrong FF to square off with #proudcaptain,” a captain with MCFRS wrote on Twitter above a photo of Peclat giving the “hang loose” sign with bandages on his other hand.