LAS VEGAS, NEVADA- While we here at Law Enforcement Today share numerous stories of police officers and first responders engaging in courageous acts, we couldn’t allow this amazing story slip by unmentioned.
An Alpine Motel Apartments maintenance employee is credited with saving several lives on Saturday, racing down smoke-filled and flame-filled corridors, banging on doors, telling everyone to wake up and get out.
In downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, residents of the apartment complex described the maintenance worker, whom they knew only as “Don”, as a hero.
The co-owner of the building, Malinda Mier, said she knew the maintenance man as military veteran Don Bennett.
The witnesses said they assumed Bennett might have been severely wounded or killed in the fire, and family members confirmed that the 63-year-old disabled Marine veteran passed away in the blaze.
One of the residents, Anthony Meadows Jr., stated:
“The guy … who saved everybody’s life? His name is Don. He was the maintenance man. He was a veteran. He stayed on the second floor in Apartment #25. Don knocked on everyone’s door and said, ‘Fire! Fire! Fire!’”
Meadows said he and his girlfriend would probably not have survived if not for Don.
Bennett knocked at the door of Meadows and was then seen running through hallways dense with smoke, banging on doors, urging people to get out just after 4 a.m.
Most of the residents of the apartment complex were fast asleep while the fire was raging. Meadows and his girlfriend eventually got out of their own apartment when firefighters rescued them from burning building using a ladder.
Meadows had detailed the gruesome scene of the fire that took place on Saturday, describing a disturbing recount of people doing anything to escape the flames:
“People running and jumping out of windows. A pregnant woman jumped out of a window.”
Resident Floyd Guenther, stated he was staying on the Alpine’s third floor. At the time of the blaze, he was up and intended to go to a nearby store for a drink and some food. He walked downstairs and saw the fire raging.
It was at that point that he too began to bang on people’s doors to alert them of the fire.
Guenther detailed the events from his perspective that early morning:
“I saw a glow, like a fire, so I ran back up the stairs on every floor, hitting the doors, pulling the alarm systems, and none of them went off and none of the smoke detectors went off.
The maintenance guy, Don, he was trying to kick the back stairway doors open, and he couldn’t get them open. The back door to the apartment complex was bolted shut, locked up. Couldn’t get out of it.”
Both Bennett and Guenther worked to rescue as many people as they both could until the fire became too intense for Guenther and he proceeded to the side of the building. He mentioned that Bennett was still trying to get people out of a back door that wasn’t opening.
Mier broke down in tears when she was asked about Bennett’s heroic actions that night, because she’s all too aware of the reports coming in that Bennet didn’t survive.
When the notion of Bennet having not survived was brought up, Mier stated:
“That’s what people are speculating … he might be somewhere, hopefully. We just have to hope for the best.”
Sadly, the Marine veteran and father of three didn’t make it that morning.
However, his actions have given new life to those who might have been consumed by the fire if he hadn’t heroically work to save the lives of the residents within the complex.
This hero is the embodiment of “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” We’ll be praying for the family of this amazing man; and while those who love him may have lost him, they’ll know that his final acts in this world were nothing but courage and selflessness.
Earlier this month, we reported on another selfless hero who put his own life on the line to protect others. In case you missed it, here was that story.
On November 5, 2017, a man walked into the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas wearing body armor and well armed. He fatally shot 26 people and wounded 20 others.
Because of a domestic violence conviction in a court-martial while in the United States Air Force, he was prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition.
That didn’t stop him.
What DID stop him was a barefoot neighbor with an AR 15. It’s the same gun that Democrats, including Joe Biden, are pushing to ban.
That hero was Stephen Willeford.
And a few weeks after he stopped the church shooter, Joe Biden said Willeford never should have had the gun that he used to stop the killer.
The comments were made when Joe Biden was asked about the tragedy.
“With the tragedy that just happened in Texas, how do you justify the Democratic view on gun control when the shooter was stopped by a man who was legally licensed to carry a gun?” a young woman in the audience asked Biden.
Biden’s response was disturbing, to say the least.
“Well first of all, the kind of gun being carried he shouldn’t be carrying,” Biden said. “I wrote the last serious gun control law…and it outlawed assault weapons and outlawed weapons with magazines that held a whole lotta bullets so you could kill a lot of people a whole lot more quickly.”
It is imperative that we recognize that Stephen’s intervention saved countless lives. Because the shooter was wearing body armor, if Willeford had responded with just a pistol, he would also most likely be dead.
“It’s just rational to say certain people shouldn’t have guns,” Biden insisted. “The fact that some people with guns are legally able to acquire a gun and they turn out to be crazy after the fact, that’s life. There’s nothing you can do about that, but we can save a lot of lives and we’ve stopped tens of thousands of people from getting guns who shouldn’t have guns.”
No Uncle Joe, you aren’t stopping the people who shouldn’t have guns from having them. What you are doing is trying to take guns out of the hands of people like Stephen Willeford.
Instead of stating that he should have never had the rifle he used to stop that massacre, you should be applauding him, and then hitting your knees and thanking God Almighty that people like Stephen exist.
Willeford’s response to Biden saying he shouldn’t have had that gun was simple:
“I wonder if his family had been sitting in a pew if he would have said the same thing,” said Willeford.
The media has given Biden and his fellow Constitution-shredding Democrats a platform to run their mouths. So we decided to give the hero, Stephen Willeford, an opportunity to share the story of what happened that day. It’s a story you won’t find anywhere else… because when Willeford was told by the media he couldn’t talk about God, he was out.
Welcome to the family, brother.
You’ll soon be able to watch his full video interviews on LET Unity.
In the meantime, here’s the story of the church’s guardian angel.
My name is Stephen Willeford. I’ve been a resident in Sutherland Springs all my life. I am fourth generation on the same little piece of property. Sutherland Springs as the kind of town that city folks say:
“Oh, I never want to live there because everybody has their nose in your business.”
And what I’ve got to say to that, is if you don’t have bad business, it’s not a bad thing.
People in Sutherland Springs know each other. We know what’s going on in each other’s lives.
And before you even know you need to ask for help, someone usually comes to your door and says, “What can we do for you?”
Are you a police officer? A veteran?
No I am not.
Are you a man who loves his country?
I am a man that loves this country more than anybody.
What you’re going to hear is the story of an average, everyday American who votes, who prays, and who dines just like everybody else. He is an NRA member who stepped up in a horrific tragedy to save lives with a very gun that people are trying to take away now.
So, Stephen, tell us about that day.
Well, the day started out. I was on call at the hospital. I work as an emergency plumber, maintenance plumber.
People may ask, “what’s emergency plumbing?”
Well, if you’ve got three inches of sewage running down the hallway of a sterile hospital, I would say that’s an emergency. So, when you are on call, it means 24/7 for a week solid. You have to carry a pager with you. And if the pager goes off, you have to answer it.
So, that morning I need rest because it gets crazy sometimes. When you get called 2:00 a.m with a problem, you have to jump out of bed running.
So I decided to stay home for rest.
At the time we were building my younger daughter a house just down the road. We were doing all the work ourselves. My wife said:
“Since you’re not going to go to church, I’m going to go work on Rachel’s house.”
So, my wife went about 5 miles down the road to work on the house. My daughter was living with us so that she didn’t have to pay her apartment rent until they got married.
Part of her chores was to do the dishes, because she’s part of our house.
So, she was doing dishes in the kitchen and I was relaxing in my bedroom. She came into my bedroom and said:
“Dad doesn’t that sound like gunfire?”
But the mind tries to make normal things out of things that are abnormal.
“No baby. It sounds like somebody’s tapping at the window.”
I went over and opened up the curtains to the window and didn’t see anybody.
“Come into the kitchen. It sounds louder in there.”
I walked into the kitchen. Right away, I recognized it was gunfire. I was an NRA instructor for several years, and a pistol competitor. I ran to my safe to get a gun.
My daughter ran out the door, jumped in her car, and ran up the street to see what was happening.
Later on, I chewed her out for that.
“Don’t you ever run into gunfire like that. I can’t believe you did that.”
Her problem is, she too much like her old man. I had to go back and apologize to my daughter.
She ran up the street and saw a man shooting through the walls of the church and entering the doors.
She came back (to the house).
By that time, I had gotten my rifle out of the safe, and a magazine. I grabbed a box of ammunition.
I was talking to my wife on the phone. I ask her:
“Where you at?”
“I’m working on Rachel’s house.”
“Stay where you’re at.”
She could tell the panic in my voice.
I told her there’s an active shooter at the church.
“Don’t go over there.”
I hung up on her.
She later said that she knew I was going. She had to tell me what she told me. It’s a wife’s duty to try to protect her husband.
My daughter came running in.
She told me there’s a guy in black tactical gear shooting up the church. I asked if she called 911.
She had. They’re aware of it.
Right away, that tells me that there’s police officers coming to the scene as fast as they can.
I’m going to be running across the street with an AR-15 in my hands. I was more terrified of the police at that moment than I was the shooter because, what are they going to think they’re coming to do.
They don’t know they’re coming to mass shooting and I’m running across the street with an AR-15 in my hands.
An AR-15 that Joe Biden would later say that Stephen should have never been in possession of. More on that in a bit.
I ran out of the house. My daughter followed me.
I believe at that moment; I was thinking more clearly than I’ve ever thought in my life. I believe the Holy Spirit was in charge of everything. Because I turned around and looked at my daughter. She ran out chasing me.
“I need you to go back in the house and find another magazine and load me another magazine. I said I’ve just got a handful of ammunition and I may need it.”
I knew she couldn’t. I knew she shouldn’t.
She couldn’t go back in the house, find a magazine, load it up and then come running across the street during a gunfight.
And I knew it would be over before she could get out there. I sent her back in the house to do busy work.
I gave her something to do. As a foreman of a construction job, I’ve run construction jobs before and the apprentice gets in your hair, you know, and you just want to give him something to do that you know he can’t accomplish.
My daughter later said:
“Dad. Really? Busy work? You sent me to do busy work?”
“It’s only because I love you so much.”
I didn’t want her following me over there because I didn’t know what I was going into and I didn’t want her to be another target.
I didn’t want her to see me fail.
If she would have seen me fail, she would run to my side and he would kill her next.
What happened after you sent her to do busy work?
So, she went back into the house. I ran across the street and as I ran, I yelled out.
Anybody that knows anything about it knows, tactically, that was a stupid thing to do. I gave away the element of surprise.
I don’t know why I yelled. I can’t explain it.
I believe the Holy Spirit called out for me. In the Bible, it talks about when Jesus walked into the garden, the two possessed men saw him and the demons cried out:
“We know who you are. Have you come here to torment us before our time.”
Jesus drove them out and into the pigs, and they ran over the cliff and died.
Author’s note: Romans 8:26-28 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who] have been called according to his purpose.”
It is my belief that Stephen Willeford yelled out because the Spirit compelled him to do so. It is also this writer’s belief that Stephen had been ordained for such a time as this, and he answered the call in accordance with God’s purpose.
I believe it was the same voice that called out the demon as he was in that church.
He was shooting people. When they went down, he would walk over and finish them. He had just shot Chris Workman in the back and he just shot Julie Workman through the breast. He was walking over to finish.
When Chris heard the shout, some of the other people in the church heard me.
And he (the shooter) immediately stopped what he was doing and came outside. He had dropped his rifle in the church, and he started shooting his pistol.
I saw everything slow motion. I saw the slide cycle. I saw the brass come out.
As an NRA instructor, I’ve seen a gun fired from a lot of different angles. Never one fired from that angle before.
God whispered to me said:
“Don’t worry about those.”
He hit the truck in front of me. He shattered the windshield of the car behind me. He hit the house behind me, and then I put bullets on him.
He had on Class III body armor and a SWAT style helmet with a black tinted seal. I couldn’t even see his face.
The corners report said that I hit him in the left chest, and I hit him in the abdomen.
Then he stopped shooting at me when I hit him a couple of times. He wanted out. His vehicle is parked in the middle of the street with the engine running and the driver’s side door open.
He headed for his vehicle. When he did, he turned to his side. I put one in his side and one in his leg.
He got in his vehicle and shut the door. He put two more rounds through the side window. I saw those holes open up and the glass falling. I couldn’t see his head because of the reflection in the glass but I put it where I perceived his head to be and I squeezed the trigger one more time.
The coroner’s report (also) said he had an abrasion across his forehead.
He accelerated, turned the corner and ran down the street away from me as fast as he could move.
I ran out into the middle of the street, I got one more shot off. It went through the back windshield, shattered the back windshield.
Police said that it went through the driver’s side seat and it hit him just to the right of the left shoulder blade at about one hundred and fifty yards away. He darted and kept on down the street.
You know I’m thinking:
“Oh my God. He’s getting the way. He’s getting away.”
I looked off to my left and there was a there was a truck at the stop sign, engine running, guy talking on the phone.
I didn’t even know the guy’s name. Never seen before in my life. I ran over and I tapped on the window.
“That guy just shot up the Baptist church and we have to stop him.”
He was talking on the phone. Any sane man in the world would just floor it and drive off and leave.
He just witnessed the whole thing. But he didn’t drive off and leave me. This is Texas. We’re not known for our sanity!
Next thing I heard was the locks come open. I climbed up into the pickup with a long tall Texan. He’s over 6 foot two, big western hat, toothpick hanging out of his mouth, and a skull of a Longhorn tattooed on his neck. The horns run up underneath his ears.
He just accelerated without another word and started running down the road. They had already put him through dispatch, and he was telling them that we’re in pursuit.
We didn’t see him.
As we darted across 87, which is a busy highway down to the coast, I dropped the magazine because I didn’t know how many rounds I had loaded. I didn’t know how many rounds I fired.
There was one round in the magazine. Meaning I got one in the top the magazine one in the chamber.
I clicked it back up and I told him:
“Tell them hurry. Hurry!!”
I have two rounds left and he’s still got Class III body armor.
We’re running down the road and Johnny said that he was doing over 95 mph. I believe that 110%.
So, you are in a high-speed chase.
We were chasing hard. We finally got where we could see him. He’s driving a gray SUV, back window was out.
“That’s him. That’s him.”
We started catching him and I looked over at Johnny and said:
“You know, if you catch him, I’m going to have to put him off the road.”
Johnny looks at me, one hand up on the steering wheel, one hand on the phone:
“Yeah, I already figured that.”
“Oh my God, who am I riding with.”
He’s probably thinking:
“Gee, I always wanted to pull a pit maneuver.”
We started to catch up. I knew at that point that some of my bullets must have hit him, because he was losing speed real quick.
This is going be a last stand and I’ve got two rounds left.
He pulled over to the side, off into the bar ditch with a road sign in front of him. Johnny pulled up and I had the rifle pointing out an open window. I reached down and I opened up the door and started to push the door open. I started to stick my foot out on the pavement.
I was going to stand behind the door and re-engage. He accelerated, hit the sign and flipped it over the top of the vehicle and went right back up on the road.
He went about three quarters a mile up the road, most of the way around a curve and then went over the top of the curve through a fence, about 50 yards into a field. I told Johnny to get down below the dash. I got out of the truck and put my rifle over the hood of the truck again. Johnny did what every millennial would do.
He got out of the truck videoing me with his phone.
“Really? That’s what you’re gonna do?”
I stood there with a rifle over the hood of the truck, thinking to myself:
“Where are the cops?”
It took them five to seven minutes to get to me. Five to seven minutes with my rifle over the hood of a truck.
I’m focused on driver side. The vehicle is sitting at an angle away from me. I couldn’t see end of the vehicle.
Five to seven minutes was an eternity.
Then I heard:
“Driver, get out of the vehicle with your hands up.”
I turned and I looked to my left and there was a police cruiser and the officer was standing behind his door with a pistol in his right hand and a microphone in his left.
He said it again.
“Driver, get out of your vehicle with your hands up.”
The police are here. I’m done.
I laid my rifle on the hood of the truck and I started to the back of the truck, put my hands up.
The officer looked at me and made eye contact with me. He hit that microphone again and said:
So, I ran over and picked the rifle back up. I guess he knew that 50 yards with a rifle, you got a better shot.
Even with two rounds, I had a better tactical advantage than he did at 100 yards with a pistol.
So, I waited for another few minutes before other officers showed up. They started bringing out AR-15s also. I want to make it clear that my AR-15 and their AR-15s was what secured the area.
And what about God in all of this?
If you can’t see God’s hand in all of this, you’re not looking.
What message would you give to people listening?
To the people who say that God doesn’t exist, how can God let that happen? When I tell you who is in this world, we live in a fallen world.
And you can read the Bible and you know it’s a fallen world.
The Bible tells you it is also the 26 people that we lost that day, God called them home.
They woke up in heaven.
They’re where we all want to be.
We’re left behind to sort it out.
I see God’s will.
And the fact that our church is now reaching people in other countries, we are watching our church broadcast over the Internet every Sunday. Our church went from 53 that day to now over 200 every Sunday.
There’s over 200 people from my community that go into that church and we lost 26 and for the people that don’t think that we should own AR-15s.
How else could I stop it? How else could I have, or any officer stopped a man that was shooting up our church?
Every redneck behind a bush has got an AR-15 and is willing to stand behind our officers and our military or whatever is needed.
The 2nd Amendment is what keeps us who we are as a nation.
Would you do it again of called upon to do so?
Loving my brother is an absolute honor.
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