Former Marine risks own safety to help wounded Willoughby Hills officers

Posted at 5:56 PM, Oct 06, 2017

A chaotic scene unfolded right before his eyes. But, instead of running the other direction, one Northeast Ohio man rushed into the danger zone to help a pair of police officers shot in the line of duty.

We're learning more about those critical moments after two Willoughby Hills police officers were hit during a shootout with a suspect.

As the gunfire broke out at the busy car dealership, instead of hunkering down, one man put his own safety at risk to help.


Dad of Willoughby Hills police officer who was shot says his son is doing fine

Two police officers shot at Willoughby Hills car dealership

In a split second, Dana Walling's stop at Classic BMW unexpectedly turned into a life-and-death experience. 

Last Thursday, he found himself coming face-to-face with the man accused of opening fire on the two Willoughby Hills patrolmen.

Walling was in the service center when he noticed a fellow customer acting strangely.

"His speech was really fast, he was repeating himself," said Walling.

The bizarre behavior prompted staff at the dealership to call police.

"He started getting real loud and being very belligerent," said Walling.

After the responding officers learned the man had multiple warrants out for his arrest, he tried to run away.

"He pulled his gun out, he fired and he hit both cops," said Walling.

One of the bullets whizzed past the former Marine's head.

"I could have been hurt or I could have died," said Walling.

In video from the scene, you can see that bullet hit the windshield of the suspect's car.

"I saw the cops return fire," said Walling.

That's when Walling's military training kicked in - to support the wounded officers.

"The cop that was laying on the ground was like help me, so I ran over to him and I asked him what he wanted me to do and he said handcuff the guy," said Walling.

After handcuffing the suspect, an employee, who we've learned is a former paramedic, ran up to Walling.

"He was like, 'anybody have a knife?' I always carry and knife and I had a knife," said Walling.

That knife was used to cut away the officer's clothes in order to start first aid immediately.

"People call me a hero and I just think I'm not a hero, just a man I believe did the right thing. It's fight or flight. I chose to help instead of run away," said Walling.

Walling tells News 5 he wants to meet the officers when they fully recover. Meantime, the general manager at Classic BMW gave Walling two tickets to Friday night's Indians playoff game against the Yankees to thank him for his bravery. 

Patrolmen Craig Anderson and Cory Planisek are now recovering from their injuries at home.
The suspect, who hasn't been charged yet, remains hospitalized.