A Houston police officer reflected on the day he prevented a possible mass shooting while working a second job as security in a mall.
Sergeant Kendrick Simpo with the Houston Police Department was working off duty at the Galleria mall in Houston’s Uptown District when he responded to a call about a man with a rifle near a Macy’s store.
The man was wearing a leather mask with spikes and carrying a rifle with 120 rounds of ammunition while standing near a children’s dance competition.
Simpo and another security guard made sure not to cause a panic among the children and parents as they approached him.
“I did know there was a dance competition with little kids going on at the Westin Ballroom, so I didn’t pull my weapon out because I didn’t want to be running toward the Macy’s area, which is past the ballroom area, with the gun out and startle anyone,” Simpo told the New York Post.
The officer knew that he had to engage the potential shooter stealthily and without drawing his weapon if he was to have a chance in a fight.
“I knew if a person did have a rifle, and they were inside the mall, I was pretty much outnumbered because all I had was a handgun at the time. My handgun and his rifle, I was already at a disadvantage,” he said.
Simpo will never forget the moment he engaged with the suspect, later identified as Guido Herrera, outside the Westin Ballroom’s entrance.
“I quickly bum-rushed, tackled him. And my first reaction was to make sure that I got a hold of the rifle. No matter what I grabbed, make sure I grabbed that rifle. I had in my mind (that) I was going to get shot. I just had to bear the pain. I knew it was going to hurt, and I was like, ‘Whatever I do, I cannot let go of this rifle.’”
During the scuffle, Simpo was able to point the gun toward the ceiling in case a shot was fired, which fortunately did not happen. Backup arrived shortly and arrested Herrera.
“I definitely know what I signed up for 20 years ago when I got into this profession,” Simpo said later.
On Herrera at the time was a bible, a rifle and handgun, and the rounds of ammunition. According to ABC 13, Herrera was only charged with a misdemeanor for disorderly conduct at the time.
One month after the mall incident, Herrera requested a meeting with the director of the FBI at the Houston FBI headquarters. Law enforcement officials discovered a gun inside his car, which resulted in another misdemeanor for the unlawful possession of a firearm.
This time, Herrera was sentenced to over a year in prison for both charges.