OAKVILLE, Wash. - The man hailed as a hero for halting a gunman's wild rampage outside the Tumwater Walmart store came forward Wednesday and said he fired his weapon only after it became clear that the gunman might injure or kill more innocent victims if he weren't stopped.
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.
Here, in his own words, is what happened:
"My family and I were at Wal-mart on Sunday afternoon to make an exchange. I was speaking with an employee at the customer service desk while my wife, daughter, and grand-daughter were in a check-out line to purchase additional items.
"I heard shots fired near the back of the store. 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.
"All that to say, 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.
"It was then that I heard someone associated with the previous gunshot victim yelling for help that her friend/husband had been shot. I directed the other armed citizen to remain with the gunman and retrieved my jump bag/first aid bag from my nearby vehicle in order to render aid to the previous gunshot victim. I am an EMT with Oakville Fire Dept. and I responded as my duty and training instructed."
George added: "I acted on Sunday to protect my family and others from the gunman and his display of obvious deadly intent. This is in accordance with both by training as an emergency responder and calling as a pastor, husband, father and grandfather.
"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."
George also thanked the other armed citizen who bravely came forward during the chaotic scene.
Shaken witnesses at the shooting scene described George as a hero for his actions that prevented further bloodshed.
"He is a hero," says Brian Adams, who was at the scene and saw the Walmart customer pull out his own weapon and shoot the gunman. "I really think more people could easily have been shot with what this guy was doing. He was just - there were several shots."
The gunman, later identified as Tim Day, 44, of McCleary, had earlier carjacked or attempted to carjack several other vehicles, opening fire at the vehicles' occupants and injuring two other innocent victims.
In the process, he drove erratically the wrong way down Highway 101 and crashed at least one vehicle before finally winding up at the Walmart store, where he went inside and opened fire at an ammunition display case before stalking out into the parking lot.
"This was a traumatic experience for us and all of those involved," George said Wednesday.
"If it wasn't for you my dad would probably be dead," said Rickey Fievez's son Kyle. Rickey was severely wounded when Day shot him twice. George tended to his wounds moments after shooting Day.
Kyle said he spoke with George on the phone. "So if it wasn't for him who knows where he would have wound up and how many people he killed so I thanked him for that. 'Then you came over and helped my dad after all that.'"
George said, "We were able to connect and share progress being made and his condition and that means a lot to me." The two families say they hope to meet each other in person at the hospital in Seattle as soon as Rickey is able The Fievez family said he is still paralyzed and not able to breath on his own. Doctors will be concentrating on getting the bullet fragments out of his spine without causing more harm.
Police are still trying to figure out why Day went on this rampage. They speculate it was due to paranoia. KOMO News has learned that Day was fired from his job as a mechanic two weeks earlier because of bizarre behavior.