52-year-old Mark Wilson was killed Thursday as he tried to stop a gunman at the Smith County Courthouse in downtown Tyler.
Police said Wilson's actions saved the life of 23-year-old David Arroyo Jr., the son of the shooter.
"He sacrificed his life doing what he thought was right," said his stepfather Alex Stewart. "He was trying to help people and he sacrificed his life doing that."
Mark's family said it was his nature to put someone else's life first.
"He was very focused on what he was doing," said his mother, Lynn Stewart. "He probably wasn't aware of anything else, just what he thought he had to do."
It was Thursday that Mark's selflessness led to something no family could prepare for.
"He took the man's wrath upon himself," said his sister, Melody.
As Mark tried to stop a gunmen from taking more lives, he lost his own.
"It was just senseless," Alex Stewart said.
Mark lived a life his parents said was full of excitement. They described him as a daredevil.
"His Dad and I were in the Navy," Lynn said, "and we moved around, and every time we would change a duty station, the very first thing I did was locate the nearest emergency room because I knew I was going to be there shortly with him. He was always coming in and out of the emergency room because he had no fear of anything."
Mark followed in his mother and father's footsteps and joined the Navy. That's where sister Melody said he developed a strong sense of right and wrong.
"If someone was not being treated right or things weren't going right he would speak out, he never held back," she said.
When the time called for courage on Thursday, mark still didn't hold back. Local law officials call him a hero, a title his family says he would have never used.
"He wouldn't really have wanted the notoriety." Alex said. "If he had killed the guy then he probably wouldn't be sitting here for you to interview. He would have just said no I don't want any part of it."
Though Mark wouldn't want the spotlight, his heroic act gained worldwide attention, but his family doesn't want the world to remember the day he gave his life, but how he lived it. Good memories of a Mark with a sly grin.
"I just want them to remember what a great guy he was," his mother said, "and what a great sense of humor. He had a kind heart to everybody. He'd do anything for anybody at anytime, no questions asked. This was just every typical of what he did. "