By Barett Poley
Kitchener, Ontario -- May 17, 2017 -- Tow truck driver Al Pinheiro of Active Towing is being lauded as a hero after helping to catch a murderer during a daring firefight. Pinheiro was listening to a police scanner after his shift when he heard reports of something unusual for the typically quiet college town.
Eric Amaral had started a firefight with police after a routine traffic stop on Ottawa Str. S., when Pinheiro came to the rescue. Pinheiro drove his truck into Amaral’s car as he was firing at police officers. The collision dazed the man, and gave police enough time to arrest him. Neither Pinheiro nor Amaral were injured in the accident, and Pinheiro’s truck suffered only minimal damage.
Not only did Pinheiro’s actions aid officers under fire, but his unorthodox method of criminal-stopping led to an arrest in a murder case that was quickly going cold. Amaral had killed Michael Gibbon in cold blood earlier that month, shooting him randomly with a crossbow as Gibbon was walking in a park.
Gibbon was found close to death, and he later passed away as a result of his injuries. The crime was random and without motive, and Gibbon had no connection to his killer. Amaral was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes.
One of the police officers was actually a friend of Pinheiro’s. He raced into action the moment he realized what was going on. “I knew exactly what I had to do – I had to make sure that it came to an end without anybody getting hurt or killed,” he says.
Pinheiro was honoured earlier this week with an award for his bravery, presented by Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin.
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Al Pinheiro at the wheel of his truck, describing to a CTV reporter how he helped police stop Eric Amaral during a gunfight with the police. Photo by CTV News.