Master Sgt. David Royer, of Fort Leavenworth, a 15-year veteran of the US Army, was doing what most people do, driving home from an errand in his pickup truck, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.
Just another normal spring day, when he came upon the Centennial Bridge, that connects Kansas and Missouri — something he has done many times before.
But this time, the active-duty soldier saw something rather odd. He saw that the car in front of him stopped and the driver was standing on the bridge, the Daily Mail reported.
As Royer was casually speaking to his fiancee over bluetooth, to his shock he saw the man in the road pull out a rifle and open fire at passing vehicles.
Instantly, Royer told her to call 911 and report an active shooter on the bridge, and then he told her he “had to go.”
That was when his extensive military training kicked in. Training which included active-shooter drills, by the way.
He decided at that moment, that either he, or this guy was going down … and very soon.
“I assessed the situation very quickly, looked around and just took the only action possible I thought I could take,” Royer told a press conference this week.
“I accelerated my truck as quickly as possible and struck the active shooter and pinned him underneath my truck.
“I was shocked that it was happening,” he admitted, “but the adrenalin took over and with the military training I received I took appropriate action.”
After mowing down the suspect, Royer said he made sure he no longer posed a threat, then proceeded to administer first aid to the injured man, The Daily Mail reported.
One person was injured by the shooter during the incident, according to Leavenworth police Chief Patrick Kitchens. That person, also a soldier, was a random victim.
“Let’s be crystal clear, his actions yesterday were absolutely heroic,” Kitchens said. “He saved countless lives. There were people on that bridge that were innocent bystanders just traveling, there were workers on that bridge.
“He saved all of those people’s lives. His actions are extraordinary.”
While Royer’s quick action likely prevented a greater tragedy, he scoffs at the hero label now being thrust upon him.
“I understand what they’re saying. I don’t necessarily myself feel like I’m a hero in this standpoint. I feel as if most people in my situation would have done the same thing.”
Instead, he credited the first responders, who arrived on the scene and took over. Royer described their actions as “textbook” and “amazing.”
Royer revealed that his fiancee was “panicking” after hearing gunshots during their call, The Daily Mail reported. After the incident was over, the soldier called his wife-to-be back to tell her he was OK.
The master sergeant later arrived home and was reunited with his fiancee and his children.
“I mowed my grass, and ate dinner and spent time with my family,” Royer said, summing up the incident as “pretty surreal.”
He revealed that when he later spoke to his family, his father was at first angry at him for putting his life at risk, but ultimately he was happy that his son took action, The Daily Mail reported.
When asked about his truck, Royer jokingly lamented that his 2014 Chevy Silverado was probably damaged beyond repair, prompting Police Chief Kitchens to quip that someone should call Chevrolet and ask the automaker to send the hero soldier a new truck.
Royer said his takeaway from what happened is “not to be afraid. Everything would turn out OK. There’s people all around the world that would do things like that. I believe there is more good out there than there is bad.
“I knew people’s lives were in danger. I needed to do something. My military training kicked in, my upbringing also had a play in that.”
Royer, who grew up in a small town in Ohio, said both his parents are courageous people who had taught him from a young age to do the right thing.
“It kinda runs in our blood to stand up and do what’s right,” he said.
The shooter, described as a 37-year-old resident of Platte County, Missouri, drove to the bridge, parked his car, and started to shoot at random cars, The Daily Mail reported.
The suspect had a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun, shooting three different vehicles during his attempted attack.
Both the shooting victim and the suspect were in serious but stable conditions in a nearby Kansas City hospitals, police said.