LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Two off-duty officers who responded in the moments after the shooting at Ross Dress for Less last month were honored Tuesday night by the Lake Charles City Council.
"They immediately recognized the urgency of the situation and they immediately took control," said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach.
Both Sulphur Police Officer A.J. Powell and Lake Charles Police Officer Clayton Fontenot were off-duty July 21st and didn't hesitate take action.
"For each of you I have commendation coin I give out to my officers who go above the call of duty and you certainly did. Thank you very much," said Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon.
Both officers recall being in other areas of the shopping center when their instincts set in.
"I heard the screams and the people running frantically outside. When I stepped outside the first person who passed said they are shooting in Ross, they are shooting in Ross," said Fontenot.
"I go over there and I see officer Fontenot standing there at the door. I didn't know he was an off duty officer at the time. He's standing by the door training kicks in to get behind cover until we can formulate a plan," said Powell.
Neither men knew that accused shooter Sharonda Obey had fled the scene and believed the shooter was still inside the store.
"I told him to tell dispatch we're going in and told them by phone," recalled Powell.
From that point they say their training took over. Making their way through the store they cleared the scene and eventually located wounded near the back dressing rooms.
"The training just played over in my mind. On everything from calling dispatch and telling them what you were wearing so you didn't get mistaken as the gunman and get shot by one of your fellow officers. They training just took over," said Fontenot.
"It was more just muscle memory. We train over and over for these situations and we just went in and did what we were trained to do," said Powell.
Officer Powell is also an EMT and was able to assist with the two victims until paramedics could arrive.
"I had a medical bag with me and I started treating her. She was laying there and if I didn't do something she could die. So I did what I could," said Powell.
Both officers were also honored last night by the City of Sulphur.