Earlier this month, police officers in Texas mistakenly shot a good Samaritan who helped disarm a potential mass shooter at a local church. Thankfully, though, he survived the shooting and is now calling on law enforcement officials to do a better job of training officers so that something similar doesn’t occur in the future.
According to reports, the incident began when 35-year-old Joshua Len Jones stormed into the Faith City Mission, which is a “faith-based outreach organization” in Amarillo, Texas, with a firearm. Shortly after seeing the gunman, several churchgoers heroically charged the gunman and tackled him to the ground.
Once on the floor, one of the congregants, later identified as Tony Garces, grabbed ahold of Jones’ hand and wrestled the gun away from him. “I said ‘hey, hey I got the gun. I took the gun away from him,’” recalled Garces.
After doing so, officers barged into the building saw Garces holding the firearm. Thinking he was the gunman, they aimed their weapons at him and ordered him to throw the gun down.
Garces, however, hesitated to drop the gun because he was worried about it misfiring when it hit the floor. The officers took his hesitation as a refusal to comply with orders, though, and shot him in the torso.
“[The police] said throw it down. I wasn’t going to throw it down because it could have fired. It had bullets in it, you know. I didn’t want anyone else getting hurt,” he reasoned.
“Then pop, pop they shot me…I went down, then a puddle of blood…I thought I was a goner,” he continued, adding, “I got the gun. I thought it was over. but they the cops shot me. The good guys shot me.”
The officers quickly realized their mistake and placed Jones under arrest. He’s currently facing six felony charges of first-degree aggravated kidnapping and is being held on $1.2 million bail at a local prison.
They also called for an ambulance and brought Garces to the hospital in stable condition. He’s since been released but still has a long road of recovery ahead of him as well as a massive medical bill.
“For doing the right thing, he now has got a huge medical bill, probably a lot of long-term physical problems and it needs to be taken care of,” explained Jeff Blackburn, Garces’ attorney. “The only reason he’s got those problems is because they shot him,” he added.
In addition to having his medical bills covered, Garces wants the offers to undergo better training. “Train them better, man,” he urged, noting, “that guy didn’t know what he was doing.”
Despite this, he told reporters that he would do it again “in a heartbeat.” This is because disarming the gunman gave Garces, a former criminal, and drug addict, the opportunity to prove to himself that he’s changed.
“If it would have been the old me, I wouldn’t have done what I did. It would have been completely different,” mentioned Garces.
When asked if he considers himself a hero, he stated, “no…there were other people there. I just took the gun away from him. I got shot. I got the bad part. It’s life.”
Garces isn’t the only good Samaritan to recently help stop a potentially deadly situation. Earlier this month, for instance, Derek Meyer, a concealed-carry permit holder, spotted someone repeatedly punching a police officer in the face.
Concerned, he immediately did a u-turn, parked nearby, and then drew his firearm. He then approached Anderson and ordered him to surrender.
Upon seeing Meyer’s gun, he ceased the assault against the officer and promptly fled the scene. Shortly after, several other officers arrived and proceeded to search the area for him. After about a half hour, they found him hiding under a flatbed trailer.
And several weeks prior to that, Justin Pearson, a 36-year-old concealed-carry permit holder from Las Vegas, Nevada, used his firearm to thwart a kidnapping. According to reports, the incident began when Pearson witnessed a “big BMW” speeding down the street in front of his house.
Determined to hold the driver accountable for his reckless behavior, Pearson, who was still on the phone with dispatchers, decided to rush after the driver in the speeding vehicle to get his license plate number.
At one point during what ended up being a relatively brief pursuit, the BMW almost crashed into a house. The driver, however, was ultimately able to regain control of the vehicle before crashing. The car then spun around and stopped in front of his neighbor’s yard, where a 6-year-old boy was standing.
The driver then jumped out of the car and tried to stuff the small child inside. Fortunately, though, upon seeing the man trying to stuff the small child into the car, Pearson shouted at the suspect and reached for his firearm, giving the child a chance to escape. Defeated, the driver also fled.
Shortly after the incident occurred, investigators learned that the attempted-kidnapper was the child’s biological father, who didn’t have parental rights or permission to take the child and promptly arrested him.
Without a doubt, those who risk their lives to stop crime or save others are extremely honorable people. Hopefully, Garces’ story doesn’t discourage others from acting heroically when faced with a similar situation.