Two bystanders who stopped gunman say they aren’t heroes

The Associated Press - May 29, 2018 9:10 am

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – One of two bystanders credited with fatally shooting a gunman who’d opened fire at an Oklahoma City restaurant says he’s “just an average guy.”

Bryan Whittle is a master sergeant in the Oklahoma Air National Guard. He tells The Oklahoman newspaper that he and his wife were driving by the restaurant Thursday when they saw a commotion outside.

He says he grabbed his pistol after witnesses pointed out the shooter. Whittle says he “had the right tool to help at the right time.”

Before bullets started flying at an Oklahoma City bar and grill, Whittle and Juan Carlos Nazario didn’t know each other. But they knew what to do: Stop a gunman before someone dies.

The two, police say, prevented what could have been a deadly attack Thursday night after they armed themselves and took down the shooter, Alexander Tilghman. Both say they don’t feel like heroes.

Nazario, a security guard and former small-town cop, stopped by the pier at Louie’s Grill & Bar Thursday after work when he heard five or six gunshots.

“I looked over and everyone was running from the back restaurant,” he said. That’s when he grabbed his gun and holster from his vehicle and ran toward the sounds.

Inside the busy lakeside restaurant, tables were knocked over, a glass door was shot out and people were hiding in fear. Nazario, a 35-year-old father of two, scanned for the gunman.

After shooting three people inside the restaurant, an attack that police so-far believe was random, Tilghman walked into the parking lot. That’s where Nazario found him.

“Drop the gun!” he yelled repeatedly. Tilghman didn’t respond. He raised the gun again and fired a round in the parking lot.

Nazario fired two shots. “He just fell to the ground.”

Despite a restaurant full of innocent lives potentially saved, Nazario said he doesn’t feel like a hero.

“I just can’t understand being called a hero when someone’s life was taken,” he said. “I just did what I had to do. I’m very glad no innocent lives were taken but ultimately, there was a life taken.”

“I’m just glad I was there,” Nazario continued. “I don’t know what could have happened if I hadn’t been there.”

He exchanged phone numbers with Whittle.

Whittle, who also went to his vehicle to get a handgun to confront the shooter, and Nazario didn’t cross paths during the chaos, something Nazario said could have added a layer of confusion to the incident.

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