Shooting witnesses say off-duty officer saved lives - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Shooting witnesses say off-duty officer saved lives

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

COMMERCE, TX (KLTV) - On a normal Sunday, shoppers in Commerce were stocking up for Spring Break when all of a sudden shots rang out. Witnesses say that a blood-covered gunman walked into the Wal-Mart, armed with two guns.

"He was standing in between each sliding door with a gun in each hand like with his arms out," witness Brian Simpson described what happened.

Simpson was checking out when he says people began to panic.

"It was like a funnel effect, like everybody trying to get through one door and ii was just pushing people," said Simpson.

Simpson said he directed everyone to the nearest exit - in survival mode, trying to take cover.

"A lady grabbed her chest and said she was having a heart attack," said Simpson. "And, during the gunshots, I heard the gunman, what sounded like his gun going off and then I heard the shotgun maybe five rounds."

Police say it started in Greenville, with the suspect firing rounds out of his Mustang. Police pursued and injured the suspect, but he kept driving, finally stopping at the Commerce Wal-Mart. That's where off-duty officer Paul Robertson shot and killed the gunman.

"If he had not been there and trying to detain the suspect when he did, this could have been a lot worse we could have had a lot of people hurt," said Marty Cunningham, a Commerce spokeswoman.

For Simpson, it was reminder of the Columbine shootings.

"That's the first thought I thought about is Columbine, this may be my day," said Simpson.

But, thanks to Robertson's heroic actions, their lives were saved.

The gunman's name still has not been released.

Robertson was shot on the right side of his chest but is expected to be released from the hospital soon. He is expected to make a complete recovery.

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