A Hero Even Off-Duty E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   
In Texas, an off-duty sheriff's deputy is being called a hero for shooting a man who burst into a Walmart during a gunfight with police near the campus of Texas A&M-Commerce.

According to story in the Dallas Morning News, the gunman was killed in the afternoon shooting. Delta County Deputy Paul Robertson was hospitalized with injuries that were not life threatening after exchanging rounds with the gunman.

The deputy, from all accounts, was simply shopping when the suspect came to the store.

"If he had not been there and tried to detain the suspect when he did, this could have been a lot worse," Commerce City spokeswoman Marty Cunningham told reporters Jason Sickles and Scott Goldstein. "We could have had a lot of people hurt."

The incident began about noon in Greenville, Texas, when police reported that three shots had been fired from a red Ford Mustang. Shortly thereafter, Commerce police spotted the car near their city limits. Commerce police said the man shot at officers, who returned fire along State Highway 50.

Then the suspect drove to the Walmart along the highway, police said.

Kala Ryan, a waitress at a nearby restaurant, told reporters that she saw officers confront the man in the parking lot. "They had him at gunpoint and were trying to get him to put his weapon down," she told the Morning News.

But the gunman, who had been wounded, ditched his bullet-riddled Mustang and headed toward the store entrance carrying a long-barreled gun and a smaller pistol. At about 12:35, Robertson spotted the man coming toward the store.

"He did try to detain him, and that's when shots began to be fired," Cunningham told reporters.

Witnesses said at least eight shots were fired during the exchange. Store employees and a few shoppers scrambled for cover as the retail outlet exploded with gunfire.

The gunman died at the scene. Robertson was taken by helicopter to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler.

The violence and the subsequent investigation stunned the city of about 8,000 people 60 miles northeast of Dallas. Investigators spent the afternoon and evening combing over the crime scene and interviewing witnesses.

Among them was 78-year-old Nancy Druda. She works as a store greeter and was standing near the front doors when the suspect approached. "She's pretty shaken up, you can tell it in her voice," Druda's daughter Debra Boyd told reporters while waiting to take her mother home.

Joann Sanchez, another of Druda's daughters, said her mother told them she instinctively helped customers when the gunfire erupted near the store's foyer.


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