MILWAUKEE, Wis. - "Surreal" was the only word former McLean County Board member Adam Kinzinger could use to describe the scene that greeted him as he walked to his car after an evening with friends in downtown Milwaukee about midnight Wednesday.
A woman was standing in the middle of the street bleeding from a wide gash across her neck.
The incident ended when Kinzinger, 28, a first lieutenant and pilot in the Air National Guard, wrestled a knife-wielding man to the ground and disarmed him. Kinzinger and another man who stopped to help held the man until police arrived.
A Milwaukee police spokesman said the 22-year-old woman will survive after undergoing emergency surgery. Her 28-year-old boyfriend, who was enraged because he thought she was flirting, is in custody awaiting the filing of a charge of recklessly endangering safety, a serious offense, police said.
"It was the worst and craziest night of my life," said Kinzinger, who resigned from the County Board to join the military in 2003. "It was one of those things you always wonder if you'll ever find yourself in. I hope to God it's the only time. It was very surreal."
Kinzinger, son of Home Sweet Home executive director Rus Kinzinger and his wife, Jodi, likened the experience to a time when he watched a plane crash at an air show in Bloomington several years ago. Time seemed to stand still even though events unfolded quickly, he said.
After spending time with friends at a Milwaukee nightspot Wednesday night, Kinzinger saw the blood-covered woman in the street. She screamed, "He cut my throat, he cut my throat."
Kinzinger then saw a man carrying what appeared to be a 3-inch knife approaching her.
"You always wonder what your reaction will be," said Kinzinger. "You get one opportunity."
Kinzinger recalls thinking, "This is going to hurt," as he shoved the man, who lunged toward him and the woman. Kinzinger grabbed the man's wrist, tossed him to the ground and jumped on top. Kinzinger used his knee to control the man's hand which held the knife. A passerby ran to a nearby fast-food restaurant to phone police and then helped hold the man. It wasn't long before they heard a siren approaching.
"It was the biggest relief ever," Kinzinger said.
Kinzinger came away from the experience with a scratch and a greater appreciation of life, he said. He also was struck by how fast things can change.
"I was having a normal day just a few minutes before that," he said.