AKRON, Ohio — A Summit County U.S. Army veteran was honored Wednesday for his role in saving a woman and her children during a 2019 shooting in Akron.
A ceremony for Gary Frank was held at the Veterans Service Commission in Akron.
Back in June 2019, Frank was working as a security guard at the fire station near Exchange and South Arlington streets in Akron.
Frank said he saw a man in a pick-up truck pull up to two women walking along the street with their children. The man, identified by police as Akil Jackson, began arguing with one of the women, who was his girlfriend. Jackson was also the father of the woman’s youngest child.
“Me being who I am, I just sort of reacted. I went over there figuring I'm gonna have to get in the middle of a verbal confrontation,” Frank said.
But the situation soon became violent. Jackson shot the woman in the back while she shielded her three kids from the gunfire.
Frank, who served eight years as a Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army from 1990 to 1998, said his military and security training kicked in.
“At that point, I reacted. I pulled out my weapon, and when I pulled it out, I yelled at him. Stop, please stop,” Frank said.
Jackson took off running and started shooting at Frank, who fired back hitting Jackson at least once.
Frank also called 911 and made sure officers got a description of Jackson, while other people helped the woman and her kids to safety.
“My focus was on him, getting his attention off of them, putting it on myself. I figure that’s a lady with children she can't defend herself, I can.”
After exchanging gunfire with Frank again, Jackson was confronted by a police officer. Jackson then put a gun to his head and shot himself. He later died at Akron City Hospital.
Frank’s quick actions likely saved that woman’s life, and now almost two years later, he is being recognized.
At Wednesday’s ceremony at the VSC, Frank received a plaque, coin, declaration, and even a $1,000 cash reward from Summit County CrimeStoppers.
Also, Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro issued a proclamation, declaring April 21st ‘Gary Frank Day.’
“You have an individual here, who did something that was very heroic, and he took a chance and he put his life on the line,” Tim Dimoff, a friend of Frank’s who organized the ceremony, said.
But Frank doesn’t see himself as a hero. He said he was just doing the right thing.
“I didn't do it for any kind of recognition. I reacted to the situation. That's just what my training called for,” Frank said.
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