When Bryan Whittle noticed a commotion and was told that a man with a gun shooting bystanders near an Oklahoma City restaurant, he drew his own gun and engaged the shooter, eventually shooting him to death.
Although Whittle scoffs at being called a hero—“I just feel like I'm just an average guy who had the right tool to help at the right time”—police officers said he saved lives with his actions.
Whittle wasn’t alone in his efforts to stop the gunman. A fellow armed citizen, identified as Juan Carlos Nazario, had also drawn his sidearm and was backing up Whittle, though Whittle didn’t know it at the time. Nazario never fired.
Whittle, in an interview with The Oklahoman, said he and his wife were heading out for a Memorial Day weekend fishing trip when they came upon a commotion near Lake Hefner, just outside of Oklahoma City. They saw people running toward the lake and his first thought was that someone was drowning.
After he stopped his car, a witness told him there had been a shooting, and she pointed out the gunman. Whittle asked his wife to hand him his bag, where he had stowed his .40-cal. semi-automatic handgun.
He took cover and approached the man, yelling at him to drop his gun. But the gunman was wearing hearing protection, so Whittle stood up and gestured to get the bad guy’s attention. The gunman turned and raised his gun toward Whittle. The armed citizen dived behind a car and crept around it. He fired before the gunman could.
After shooting the culprit, Whittle heard someone—later identified as Nazario—yelling, “Clear him. I’ve got you. Clear him.”
Whittle works for the Federal Aviation Administration and is a reservist with the Oklahoma Air National Guard. He said he drew upon his experience on various military deployments when he confronted the gunman.
Two bystanders, a 12-year-old girl and her mother, had been shot by the gunman before Whittle ended the threat. Another two people sustained minor injuries in the ensuing bedlam.