CANTON, Ohio — Ernie Marshall broke down in tears when Sean Roberts walked into a Canton home Wednesday morning for a reunion that meant so much to both men.
"I just want to thank you so much, man. It's a blessing. Thank you so much," Marshall said while hugging Roberts on a living room couch. "You're a hero. You're a hero."
Roberts quickly responded, "No, I'm just an ordinary guy at the right place at the right time."
Around 7:15 p.m. on July 6, Marshall was shot in the left leg in the parking lot of J Babe Stearn Community Center on 13th Street SW in Canton. The 30-year-old father began bleeding profusely.
Several children, coaches and parents were in the area at the time because there was a baseball game going on.
Coaches and kids ran into the community center where Roberts was mopping the floor as part of his 50 hours of court-ordered community service for recent misdemeanor convictions.
Roberts, 37, dropped the mop and ran outside, where he found Marshall writhing in agony.
Roberts, who served nine years in the U.S. Marine Corps, relied on his training and instincts and took quick action.
"It's either life or death and he's way too young to die. It doesn't matter who I am or who he is to me. There's a man's life hanging in the balance," Roberts said. "You get ingrained with so much knowledge in the military and life-saving is one of them."
He quickly used a belt as a tourniquet on Marshall's leg to control the bleeding.
"At this point, I told him, 'This is really going to hurt, but I need you to stick with me,' and I stepped on my belt and cinched it," Roberts said.
Marshall, who is deaf in one ear, originally thought Robert said he was an "EMT", but later realized he said, "I'm a Marine. I got you."
Canton police arrived and applied a second tourniquet on the leg. The moment was captured on police body camera video.
Marshall was rushed to Aultman Hospital. Doctors have performed three surgeries on the leg. A fourth surgery is scheduled for Thursday.
Marshall, who has two daughters, said he isn't sure he'd be alive if not for the actions of a caring stranger.
"He's definitely the number one hero as of right now in Canton, Ohio," Marshall said. "I'm just happy to be here, happy to be alive and happy to see my kids another day."
Canton City Councilwoman Chris Smith was at the center on the evening of the shooting and felt Roberts should be rewarded for his heroism.
She contacted Canton City Prosecutor Jason Reese and Canton Municipal Judge John Poulos and requested that the remainder of the Marine's community service hours be reduced. Roberts had served 13 of 50 required hours.
Reese filed a motion and the judge agreed to waive the rest of the hours.
Roberts said he was "ecstatic" by the gesture from the court system, but more grateful that Marshall is going to be okay.
Marshall said he now considers Roberts to be a member of the family, and before the two separated for the day, Marshall said, "I love you, man. I love you for this."
"I love you too," Roberts responded.
Canton identified 31-year-old Myles Muth as the suspect in the shooting. He's charged with felonious assault.
Coincidentally, the U.S. Marshal's Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force arrested Muth on Wednesday morning, around the same time Marshall and Roberts reunited.