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Video: Soldier hailed a ‘hero’ for stopping active shooter speaks out

Fort Leavenworth Police Department vehicles. (Fort Leavenworth Police Department/Released)

Master Sgt. David Royer says he does not necessarily feel like he’s a hero.

“I feel as if most people in my situation would have done the same thing,” he said.

But others are calling Royer a hero.

He is credited with stopping an active shooter Wednesday on the Centennial Bridge in Leavenworth.

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Royer, who is assigned to the 705th Military Police Battalion of the 15th Military Police Brigade at Fort Leavenworth, said he witnessed a man firing shots on the bridge. Royer said he took the only action he felt he could take and accelerated his truck into the shooter, who ended up becoming pinned under the vehicle.

One person, who also is a soldier from Fort Leavenworth, was wounded by the gunfire. The person who has been identified as the suspect also was injured.

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens has said the suspect allegedly fired at vehicles at random.

Royer spoke Thursday at a press conference at Fort Leavenworth.

Despite Royer’s reluctance to call himself a hero, Kitchens is using the term to describe the sergeant.

“He won’t call himself a hero, but I will,” Kitchens said.

The police chief credits Royer with saving countless lives.

“Let’s be absolutely crystal clear, his actions were heroic,” Kitchens said.

Kitchens said Royer saved the lives of other drivers and Kansas Department of Transportation workers who were on the bridge at the time. Kitchens said Royer also saved the lives of first responders who did not know what they were encountering as they responded to the scene.

“His actions were extraordinary and he should be commended for that,” Kitchens said.

The Centennial Bridge stretches across the Missouri River from north Leavenworth to Platte County, Missouri.

Police were notified of the incident on the bridge around 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Royer said he was speaking to his fiancee, Haley Siela, through a bluetooth system in his truck as he approached the bridge on the Leavenworth side.

Because of work taking place on the Centennial, traffic was allowed to travel across the bridge from only one direction at a time.

Royer said traffic had been stopped in his lane.

He saw a man getting something out of a vehicle ahead of him. The man pulled out a rifle and began firing shots.

Royer said he told his fiancee to call 911 and report there was an active shooter on the bridge.

Siela, who spoke Thursday at the news conference, said she heard eight or nine gunshots while she was still on the phone with Royer.

Siela also calls her fiance a hero.

Leavenworth Mayor Mike Griswold said an AR-15 rifle was used during the incident.

Kitchens said police believe the suspect also had been in possession of a handgun.

Royer feels training he has received during his 15-year career in the Army helped prepare him to quickly assess the situation and take action.

The training he has received has included active shooter scenarios.

“I was somewhat shocked that it was actually happening right in front of me,” he said.

Royer said he was not necessarily frightened. He said adrenaline took over.

Leavenworth Deputy Police Chief Dan Nicodemus said the bridge reopened around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, but the investigation has continued.

The man who was wounded during Wednesday’s shooting and the suspect remained in the hospital Thursday.

Kitchens said the suspect is a 37-year-old man from Platte County, Missouri.

County Attorney Todd Thompson said he intends to have a news conference Friday for an announcement regarding charges in the case.

Col. Caroline Smith, commander of the 15th MP Brigade, and Command Sgt. Maj. Justin Shad, who also is with the brigade, expressed pride in Royer on Thursday.

“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Smith said.

The colonel said she is not surprised by the actions taken by Royer.

“He’s a phenomenal (non-commissioned officer),” she said.

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© 2020 Leavenworth Times