Protesters who subdued shooter reveal gunman’s last words before he opened fire
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - From the unsettling words uttered right before the shooting to the chaos that ensued, those who ultimately stopped Steven Lopez after he allegedly shot into a crowd of protesters Saturday are now sharing what they saw.
Before the shooting that killed 27-year-old photographer Tyler Gerth, some who were in Jefferson Square Park said Lopez was asked to leave the area earlier in the day after he appeared anxious and rowdy.
Dre Dawson, who said he was providing security to protesters, said Lopez did, but then he showed back up.
“He’s got on brand new shoes, cargo pants, tank top, brand new bandanna, brand new hat and brand new gun in his waist band,” Dawson said. “Like where did you get that? So, I’m immediately alert. I was watching as my guys ask him, you know, Steven, come on.”
Davon Taylor, who also was in the park, said he talked to Lopez. Taylor said Lopez had grown upset earlier in the day, and he calmed him down.
When Lopez returned, right before the shooting, Taylor said he offered to help him find a mutual friend in the park he thought he may have been looking for. Taylor said Lopez’s response to that made him feel uneasy.
“He said, ‘no, give me a minute, I’m about to tear this B up,‘” Taylor said.
Moments later, Taylor heard gun shots.
“Before I could get to that statue, that’s when I heard the first pow,” Taylor said. “I looked back and it was Steve.”
Witnesses said Lopez first fired rounds into the air.
“The crowd fired at Steven,” Dawson said. “That’s when he started firing into the crowd. His first shot hit Tyler, who was sitting right here.”
Dawson said he and other security personnel were trying to get the crowd to duck and cease fire.
Chris Fox said he was in his car nearby with his wife when he heard the gunshots. He said he first made sure his family was safe and then approached the gunman with his hands up asking him to stop shooting.
“I have my gun in my hand,” Fox explained. “He shoots at us, and that’s when the lady shot him in his leg.”
After that, Fox and Dawson said they had Lopez at gunpoint. They said he then held up his hands and dropped his weapon. That’s when the two men rushed to subdue him.
“I roll him over, put his hands behind him, subdue him immediately,” Dawson said. “As soon as I put his hands behind him, the crowd starts trying to tear into him. People started trying to kick him in the head, stomp him in the back.”
Dawson said he understood protesters’ actions, but decided to drag Lopez, who had been shot in the leg, away from the area.
"I couldn't in good conscience allow them to put a man on trial right here in the street," Dawson said, adding Lopez had already been subdued.
At the same time, Fox, a former nurse, had rushed over to Gerth, who had been shot.
“I can’t close my eyes without seeing him,” Fox said. “I don’t get sleep much anymore. I’m pretty traumatized over it. I beat myself up thinking, if I shot and killed that man, Tyler would be sitting here today.”
Taylor said he's saddened by Gerth's death because he was truly passionate about what those protesting want to see done in the Breonna Taylor case.
"Ultimately, going forward, just prosecute the police," Taylor said. "We can go our ways and justice will be served."
Dawson said protesters had practiced what to do in an active shooter situation, adding he believes that preparation saved lives.
“I give my deepest condolences to the Gerth family and Tyler,” Dawson said. “I’m also just relieved that we only had one casualty. It could have been a lot more. It could’ve been a lot more.”
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