Two men dining at a restaurant in Oklahoma City shot and killed an armed attacker last week, ending what police called “a very tragic situation.”
Oklahoma City Police Chief Bo Matthews said Juan Carlos Nazario, 35, and Bryan Whittle, 39, shot and killed 28-year-old Alexander C. Tilghman soon after he opened fire from the parking lot of Louie’s restaurant, striking a woman and two young girls eating dinner inside Thursday evening.
“You can say they’re heroes, which is a good thing to say … but I think they stopped a very tragic situation from going any further,” Matthews told reporters during a Friday news conference.
The two men retrieved their handguns from their cars during the attack, Matthews said. It’s unclear if either man had a license to carry, though Matthews said it doesn’t matter. He doubts either man will face charges as a result of the shooting.
“They were protecting somebody else’s life,” he said. “I can tell you historically … these guys were protecting somebody else’s life, I would think more than likely they would not be filed on.”
Gerald Konkler of the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training told NBC News both Nazario and Tilghman had armed security guard licenses.
“I was just there enjoying the lake scenery and heard shots,” Nazario told NBC News. “At that point I zoned out and had to take action. Just glad no innocent bystanders’ lives were taken, and unfortunately a life was lost, but he had a choice to drop the weapon and chose otherwise.”
Whittle, during an interview with USA Today, said he “just did what needed to be done to stop the threat. Nothing special.”
A motive remains unclear, investigators said, noting Tilghman lacked any connection to the restaurant prior to Thursday’s shooting. Police last made contact with him 15 years ago while responding to a domestic assault and battery call.
“It looks to me like a random event,” Matthews said. “I mean, in an act like this, you would have to assume that he probably had a little bit of a mental illness.”
Three shooting victims, as well as a man who broke his arm fleeing the scene, were in good condition as of Friday, police said.
The incident comes two weeks after Republican Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a permitless carry bill, describing the state’s existing gun laws as “effective, appropriate and minimal.”
“I am thankful that under the concealed-carry and open-carry laws that I have signed as governor, two armed citizens had the ability to protect and save the lives of our fellow Oklahomans,” she said Friday. “This is not the time to debate the NRA’s efforts to repeal Oklahoma’s regulations assuring safety and training for those who carry guns. This is a time to offer up prayers to the victims of this tragedy.”