Deadly Neighborhood Rampage Brought to Sudden End as Armed Citizen Takes on Deranged Driver
In Mesa, Arizona, a good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy on an automotive rampage
According to KSAZ-TV, a suspect identified as John Lagana was taken into custody by police last Friday on first-degree murder charges after being detained at gunpoint by a civilian identified as Emmanuel Reynoso Avila.
Lagana had allegedly inflicted fatal injuries on Avila’s next-door neighbor, 63-year-old Christopher Heimer, with his car.
Avila, who is 20, has known Heimer since he was 8 years old.
“Chris was super friendly. Really welcoming to everyone in the neighborhood,” Avila told KNXV-TV. “No one deserves to go out the way he did.”
According to KSAZ, surveillance video shows Heimer walking on a sidewalk near Main Street when a car allegedly driven by Lagana, going the opposite direction, swerved off the road and into the 63-year-old.
After Heimer was thrown into a landscaped area, police say Lagana turned the car around to run the man over again.
“Lagana continued to travel eastbound on the sidewalk, damaging mailboxes and landscaping before turning around and driving back toward Heimer,” a statement from the Mesa Police Department read.
“Lagana then got out of his vehicle and proceeded to stomp on Heimer’s head multiple times. This is when one witness used their firearm to put an end to Lagana’s actions.”
Avila, who was with his brother at the time, described the chaos at the scene.
“All of a sudden we hear honking and we hear a car speed up. We look over and we see my neighbor Chris get full-on rammed by someone who was supposedly his friend,” Avila told KNXV.
Police described Lagana, 61, and Heimer as acquaintances, the station reported.
Avila said he looked at his brother and then jumped into action.
“I dropped everything I had, and I ran inside to get my gun while he was calling first responders,” he told KSAZ.
“Then I shot off at the ground toward the driver because he was trying to leave the area after he had run him over a second time.”
“At that point, I aimed back up at him. Let him know that I was going to make sure that he didn’t get away, that I was going to shoot if he attempted to flee the area, which he was,” he continued.
“I got him out of the car with his hands up and held him there until the police arrived.”
Neighbors told KSAZ the only reason that Lagana remained on the scene is that he was detained at gunpoint by Avila.
Mesa Police Officers arrest a man for violently killing another man in east Mesa, read more here ?https://t.co/K0lGe70NpV pic.twitter.com/7s7qJXafXU
— Mesa Police Dept. (@MesaPD) August 13, 2022
Sadly, that didn’t save Heimer’s life.
“He was a gentle soul, and I know that everyone in this neighborhood is going to miss him. I sure … I sure will,” Avila told KNXV.
Lagana’s motive remains unclear. According to KSAZ, before he stopped answering questions, the suspect told police that his ex-girlfriend was living with Heimer.
The statement from Mesa police added that before the attack, “Lagana was parked in a vacant lot, just northwest of Heimer’s residence, and that Lagana honked his horn repeatedly, until Heimer came out of his home.”
This is, for now, what we have to go on.
The fact that police even have Lagana in custody, however, is thanks in no small part to Avila — a good guy with a gun who was in the right place at the right time.
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