An armed citizen responded to a gunman with firepower of his own, preventing a deadly rampage from becoming even more destructive.
The short-lived gun battle began Tuesday afternoon in a Brownsburg, Indiana, graveyard.
According to police, 22-year-old Joshua Christopher Hayes first targeted two workers in the cemetery, seemingly at random.
Seth Robertson, one of the workers, was chased down by Hayes before being fatally shot, police said. Then, the gunman allegedly turned on the second worker.
As Hayes hunted down the second man, he crossed paths with a third man waiting at a traffic light, according to authorities. Hayes allegedly engaged the man, dubbed “victim three” by police, before the would-be target pulled a gun of his own.
Hayes was then mortally wounded by the third man.
Police credited this swift action as potentially saving even more lives, and officials don’t believe any charges will be brought against the armed hero.
“This tragic event could have been much more disastrous,” Brownsburg Police Department Captain Jennifer Barrett said, according to WISH-TV. “So, victim three not only saved victim two’s life, but he saved potentially the lives of many others.”
“Victim three did exactly what anybody would have wanted him to do at that scene that day.”
Despite the small size of Brownsburg, rumors about the shooting spread rapidly on social media.
Theories about a second gunman swirled, as well as possible racial motivations for the attack.
Unfortunately, it appears this destruction was the result of a seemingly unchecked mental illness. After meeting with the Hayes family, the police explained the difficult situation.
“That is part of what led us to exactly understand that there was a mental health component that was behind– that we were already seeing in the investigation,” Captain Barrett said.
“However, I think the biggest thing that Mr. Hayes’ family has expressed is that they want there to be a mental health awareness component to this. They’re, of course, devastated. But they’re also devastated for the other victim.”
While this shooting was a tragedy for Brownsburg, it only took one armed citizen to prevent the day from becoming worse.
As schools and communities continue to reopen, it’s possible that gunmen will take advantage of so-called gun-free zones to spread their death and destruction, secure in the knowledge that law-abiding armed citizens are nowhere near.
The solution for this, as we have seen in Brownsburg and many other places across America, is responsible gun owners stepping in when they’re needed most.
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