Aug. 7 (AP): Shot nine times and left for dead as he tended to a wounded victim outside, Oak Creek police lieutenant Brian Murphy tried to wave off his colleagues’ aid, insisting the worshippers indoors needed their help more.
Under fire in the temple parking lot, 32-year veteran Oak Creek police officer Sam Lenda took aim and shot back, downing the gunman who refused to drop his weapon after killing six people as they gathered for Sunday services.
Murphy and Lenda — one critically injured and one physically unharmed — are being hailed as heroes for saving lives in the shootings that sent more shockwaves through the US.
The police say gunman Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old army veteran and former leader of a white supremacist heavy metal band, unloaded a 9 mm handgun at the temple. They have not determined a motive. What they have done is hailed the actions of those caught in the crossfire.
It took less than four minutes for Murphy, a 21-year veteran and native New Yorker who was a finalist to be chief two years ago, to arrive on the scene. He saw a victim lying in the parking lot and was tending to him when Page approached. Page shot Murphy at “very close range” nine times, Oak Creek police chief John Edwards said. “He clearly was in a blaze of gunfire,” said Gary Seabrook, director of surgical services at Froedtert Hospital, where Murphy and two other survivors were treated. Moments after Murphy was shot, more officers arrived at the scene. Lenda was among them. He and the other officers heard gunshots, but didn't know who had been hit. They did know that a man with a gun was walking towards them.
The officers ordered Page to stop, drop his weapon and put his hands up. Instead, Page fired at least two rounds, hitting one of the squad cars.
Lenda returned fire with his department-issued rifle, and Page went down. Lenda and other officers radioed Murphy. They soon saw him lying on the ground.
“As they approached him, he waved them off. He had been shot nine times, one of them very serious in the neck area, and he waved them off and told them to go into the temple and assist those in there,” Edwards said.
Despite his pleas, officers removed Murphy from the scene, quickly carrying him to a squad car before entering the temple. While Murphy remained hospitalised in critical condition, Edwards said he was resting and surrounded by his family.
Flags at half mast
President Obama ordered flags at all US government facilities at home and abroad to be flown at half mast until sunset on Friday in a show of respect for the victims of the Oak Creek shooting.