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Police Shoot Hero Churchgoer Who Disarmed Man Holding 100 People Hostage

http://abc7amarillo.com

This is an unfortunate story of a good guy being targeted for no reason at all.  

On Valentine's Day, Tony Garces was attending a church service at Faith City Mission in Amarillo, Texas. It was a peaceful Wednesday morning service with familiar faces and he felt at home.

Having been released from prison after a four-year jail sentence, he had started to turn his life around and the Faith City Mission had provided him with the help he needed to do so. In the process he had began to get closer to God, which was why he was sitting in the early morning church service on a Wednesday.

Suddenly, everything went wrong.

A man entered the church while the service was ongoing and while pulling out a gun, he proceeded to hold the congregation and staff hostage.

Tony Garces and a small group of men from the congregation knew they had to move fast. They wrestled the gunman to the floor and in the scuffle, Tony managed to grab the man's gun.

During the commotion, a church member had managed to call the police to inform them of the hostage situation. They arrived, sirens blaring, just as Tony was wrestling the gun out of the hostage-taker's hands.

When they burst into the room, they pointed guns in the direction of the scuffle and asked Tony to put the gun down. Worried that the loaded gun might go off if he suddenly dropped it, he lowered it on to the floor slowly, showing police that he meant no harm. But it was too late.

Police shot Tony twice, once in the neck and once in his back. The gunman lay on the floor, completely unarmed. Thankfully, Tony's wounds were not fatal. He was taken to the hospital where he was treated and discharged after a while.

Looking back, Tony says it's unlikely he would have done such a brave thing before he had started going to church. "If it had been the old me, I wouldn't have done what I did," he says, "It would have been completely different."

For Tony, this act of heroism was a way to show himself and the congregation that he had really changed. Which is why it was particularly ironic that he got shot for his efforts.

"I said 'hey, hey I got the gun," he said. "'I took the gun away from him'...The police said 'throw it down.' I wasn't going to throw it down because it could have fired."

He describes the moment when they turned on him, "Pop, pop, they shot me... I went down, then a puddle of blood... I thought I was a goner."

Tony is hoping the police department will cover his medical bills. He is also calling for the officers in his town to be trained on the deadly use of force. He faces months of recovery and possible lasting health problems as a result of this encounter.

However, when asked by a reporter whether he would do it again in spite of this outcome, Tony answered immediately, "In a heartbeat."