An active-duty soldier stationed at Fort Leavenworth has been called a hero after his quick thinking Wednesday morning stopped a gunman who opened fire on cars at the Centennial Bridge, which overlooks the Missouri River at a crossing between Kansas and Missouri.
According to Leavenworth Police Chief Patrick Kitchen, the soldier, who has been identified as Master Sergeant David Royer, 34, likely saved “countless lives” when he crashed his truck into the gunman, who had already struck two cars and another person.
“It’s quite clear that he intervened and saved countless people from either being shot or wounded,” said the police chief, later adding that the soldier who crashed his car into the gunman was “very, very helpful and instrumental in today’s activities.”
Royer sustained no injuries during the maneuver, and the person who was shot, also an active-duty soldier, was recovering as of Wednesday afternoon, said the police chief.
In a press conference with reporters on Thursday, Royer explained that he was crossing the bridge in his car, talking to his fiance over the bluetooth speaker, when he noticed a man further in front of him “who appeared to be getting something out of his vehicle,” reports KMBC News.
“As I was talking to her, the man pulled up a rifle and started aiming toward the eastbound across the river, toward the Missouri side and began to shoot,” said Royer.
“I assessed the situation very quickly, looked around, and took the only action possible I felt I could take,” he said. “I accelerated my truck as quickly as possible, struck the active shooter and pinned him underneath my truck.”
“I was shocked that it was happening, and the adrenaline took over, and with the military training that I’ve received, I took appropriate action,” said Royer.
“Most people in my situation would have done the same thing,” he said.
KMBC News reports that the police chief believes Royer’s actions were “absolutely heroic.”
“He saved countless lives. There were people on that bridge that were innocent bystanders just traveling, there were KDOT workers on that bridge,” said the police chief.
At least two weapons were recovered from the scene, including a handgun and a semi-automatic rifle, said police. It’s unclear how many shots were fired, or which weapon was used in the shooting.
After pinning the gunman under the truck, Royer, who has served in the Army for 15 years, said he believed that the man no longer posed an immediate threat, so he went to the gunman’s car to make sure that there were no explosives or other dangers to the people on the bridge, reports The New York Times. He then called his fiance to let her know he was alright.
“I just wanted to get home, get everything back to normal, get to my kids, give them a hug,” said Royer. “And then I went and I mowed my grass and made dinner and spent time with my family.”
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