PORT ST. LUCIE PEOPLE
The MARTIAL ARTS MASTER
One night in 1990, when Bob Fabrey was a police
officer in Ohio, a bar fight broke out between two
men. It took Fabrey and another officer to control one
man outside the bar. Fabrey, who had been injured in the
altercation, managed to get the crazed man inside his patrol
car, while the other officer took the first man away in his.
En route, the offender with Fabrey started choking. Seeing
that the man — under the influence of some substance — had
swallowed his tongue, Fabrey rushed him to the hospital for
treatment. He then took the prisoner to the closest station
and locked him in a holding cell alone. While Fabrey was
enjoying a cup of tea, smoke started billowing from under
the holding cell’s door. Apparently his prisoner had found a
lighter hidden under a mattress and set it on fire.
Knowing how angry his wife would be if he died doing
something stupid, Fabrey rushed in and found him in the
thick smoke. But by that time, the door had jammed shut
and other officers had gone for help. Fabrey, well-trained in
martial arts, back-kicked the door until it opened and pulled
the man to safety. However, in the process, he lost 60 percent
of his lung capacity from smoke inhalation. He stayed with
the police department but was severely affected.
As he says at the beginning of a 1995 episode of Top Cop
that featured the event, “I believe that when you take the oath
to protect and serve you have to do it. You can’t always pick
and choose who you’re going to protect and serve.”
Fabrey didn’t always plan on being a cop. He grew up in
Pennsylvania surrounded by aunts and uncles.
“I had a wonderful childhood in the ’40s and ’50s,” he says.
In high school, he played football and attended California
University of Pennsylvania on a scholarship. Planning
a career in speech therapy, Fabrey also hoped for a shot at
“I wasn’t large so I joined the Marines to bulk up.”
40 Port St. Lucie Magazine
BY ELLEN GILLETTE
Grandson “Chief” gets some guidance from Bob Fabrey, who now uses his 60 years of martial arts experience to teach area youth, including his three grandsons.