A masked gunman who opened fire in an Alabama McDonald's restaurant on Saturday night was met with gunfire that ended his life from a pistol-packing father, a man who's been rightly praised as a hero by store employees.
According to WBRC-TV, an armed man wearing a mask entered the Birmingham McDonald's when an employee opened the front door for a father and his sons to leave the establishment. When the masked man opened fire, the father pulled out his pistol and began firing at the suspect.
Authorities have confirmed that three were shot: the suspect, the father, and one of his sons. The gunman died from his injuries sustained in the shootout and the other two suffered injuries described as non-life threatening.
It remains unclear to authorities if the suspect was attempting to rob the store or was targeting a specific employee, notes WBRC-TV.
The quick-reacting father, who likely saved numerous lives, will not be facing charges, indicate authorities.
Markus Washington, an employee at the McDonald's restaurant, told WBRC-TV he was "feeling grateful."
"Wrapping my head around it all, I was just wishing someone would come wake me up from this nightmare," he said.
"He's my hero," added the employee. "Because I can only imagine how it would've went if he wasn't armed. We might not be here having this interview."
"Things like this are difficult for both families," said Birmingham police spokesman Sgt. Bryan Shelton, according to WVMT-13.
"The gentleman who unfortunately lost his life, the teenage boy who is in the hospital recovering from his injuries and the father who is also recovering from his injuries. It's not easy being a father and watching your child get injured, get hurt like that. It's a really heartwrenching experience," said Shelton.
Though it is difficult to quantify how many innocent lives have been saved by a "good guy with a gun," Paul Hsieh, the co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM), writing at Forbes notes that a study ordered by the openly pro-gun control Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found "defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence."
Moreover, Hsieh highlights, "Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008."
Similarly, a different study found there to be well over one million instances of defensive gun uses annually:
Another study estimates there are 1,029,615 DGUs per year “for self-protection or for the protection of property at home, work, or elsewhere” excluding “military service, police work, or work as a security guard,” (within the range of the National Academies’ paper), yielding an estimate of 162,000 cases per year where someone “almost certainly would have been killed” if they “had not used a gun for protection.”
"[E]ffective defensive gun use need not ever lead the perpetrator to be wounded or killed," explains the National Research Council. "Rather, to assess the benefits of self-defense, one needs to measure crime and injury averted. The particular outcome of an offender is of little relevance."
"It's relatively easy to measure the number of lives lost due to criminal gun violence. It’s harder to measure the number of lives saved by legal defensive gun use. Murders that didn’t happen don’t show up on crime statistics," notes Hsieh.