An incredible new detail has emerged in the story of a hero bystander who managed to prevent a rampage killing outside a Walmart in Tumwater, Washington over the weekend – he is a local pastor with an extensive background in gun training & safety.
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David George, who is an emergency medical technician with the Oakville Fire Department and a pastor at the Oakville Assembly of God, described his harrowing experience at a Wednesday news conference in his hometown.
He said he initially wanted to remain anonymous, not out of shame or regret, but to maintain the “dignity and integrity” of his ministry in Oakville. But he later reconsidered after being cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting of the gunman, who had already injured three people in a series of carjackings and a shooting rampage at the Walmart store before George stopped him.
The pastor spoke out in a press conference yesterday.
George explained how the harrowing ordeal unfolded and his training just kicked in.
“I heard shots fired near the back of the store,” he began. “I am a concealed weapon carrier and permit holder, with significant training in the use of firearms and some of the legalities involved in a defensive encounter. As a volunteer firefighter, I have also received active shooter training. In addition, I am also a credentialed range safety officer. I train regularly to be proficient with the firearm I carry and to do so in a safe and responsible manner,” he said.
The right man was certainly there at the right time. George knew exactly what to do, and assessed the situation quickly.
“I was sure it was gunshots I heard and I was familiar with how I should respond while considering mine and the public’s safety in the setting of this large store. I was concerned for my own family and sought to find them and exit the building. My daughter, recognizing gunshots, also gathered her daughter and moved quickly to exit the building.
“I did not see my wife and so I continued to look for her as people began to realize the situation and run out of the building. At no time did I draw my firearm in the building.
“While doing so, the gunman came past me waving and pointing his gun and exited the building. I followed carefully, along with another citizen carrying a firearm, unaware of what the shooter would do next or where he would do it.
“The gunman attempted to get a car and when he failed moved to another screaming at the driver. He then shot two times into the driver’s side of the vehicle. When the driver did not or could not respond to his threats he began to travel in the direction that I thought my family to be.
‘At this point, I left cover and moved to intercept the gunman. When the gunman began threatening another person for the use of their car, I moved in order to have a safe shot at the gunman. He entered the vehicle, which I considered an even bigger threat and fired to stop the shooter.
“After being hit, the gunman tried to exit the vehicle and fell to the ground. I moved to clear the gunman yelling to him to drop the gun and show me his hands. I determined the gunman was incapacitated and unable to respond at this time.
Reflecting on the deadly incident, George is grateful innocent bystanders are safe but is pained that he was forced to take a life and said he’s praying for everyone involved.
“I am grieved that the shooter’s reckless actions endangered and hurt numerous individuals and demanded that he be stopped before doing more harm. My family, my congregation and I are praying for the gunshot victim’s full recovery and for all those that are suffering as a result of Sunday night’s tragic events, including the shooter’s family.”
Police said the violent incident initially occurred in the parking lot of Tumwater High School. When officers noticed a stolen vehicle, they pursued the suspect to a nearby Walmart parking lot. There, the suspect exited the stolen vehicle and attempted to highjack another car, shooting the driver in the arm, according to Tumwater Police Department police spokeswoman, Laura Wohl.
At least two victims were injured, one seriously, before the gunman was taken out by the pastor and off-duty paramedic, who wishes to remain anonymous. Another man, Jesse Zamora, fired upon the suspect when he saw what was about to occur. “The first thing I did was reach for my gun and I told [my wife] to run,” he explained.
If it wasn’t for these heroic actions, many more lives could have been lost, as the man began to open fire.
“Thank God for a concealed weapons permit state we live in and those two men were carrying at the time,” said witness and gas station customer Milton Mathis, as reported by Komo News. “We get a bad rap in this state about the ‘open carry’ law and concealed weapons permit, but that day it prevailed and somebody’s life was saved.”
“I want to tell him thank you and I would like to shake his hand and meet him,” said Tyler Fievez, whose dad Rickey is still hospitalized after police say gunman Tim Day shot him twice while trying to stealing his car. “That bystander is a hero,” said Fievez added. “That guy could have killed both my parents plus plenty more people.”
“I’m glad,” Fievez said of the lethal action taken by the armed strangers. I’ve carried guns all my life. Someone had to. I feel if someone wouldn’t have put him down then he would have taken other people’s lives.”
Rickey Fievez was headed into spinal surgery at Harborview Medical Center Tuesday.
“Of what we’ve heard the bullets are still inside of him,” said Tyler Fievez. “They’re going to look for that in his surgery, too. To see if they can take them out. Bullet fragments went into his spine so that’s why he’s paralyzed from the neck down.”
WALMART on Tumwater shooting: ""We are shocked that this happened on our property, and our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and affected. We are working closely with law enforcement on the investigation and are referring additional questions to them." 5pm #komonews pic.twitter.com/BkT0BQ73Sj
— Keith Eldridge (@KeithKOMO4) June 18, 2018
Witnesses reported hearing at least 10 gunshots. One man, Darren Gossler, took to Twitter to recall his version of events.
“I was in the dairy section,” he wrote. “Heard about 5 or 6 pops. Ran out a side emergency exit and attempted to run to my car in the parking lot but heard 4 more pops in the lot.”
“Caught a quick glimpse of a male with what appeared to be a handgun,” Gossler added. “Ducked under some cars and ran to Costco.”
Tim Day, who police believe may have been suffering from paranoia, was not allowed to purchase a firearm – he managed to get one from his fiancee.