15:21:56 MST—Casper, Wyoming
Before the FBI arrived, there were twenty police cruisers in the Albertsons parking lot, along with six ambulances, three fire trucks, and a SWAT van. However, it was a civilian who killed the two terrorists as they exited the store.
Gary Martin was a hunter, target shooter, and avid gun collector. He always carried a concealed weapon, and usually had more in whatever he was driving. Today, that was a 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer with thirty-eight-inch tires and six-inch suspension lift. Gary spent eight year restoring it himself, everything from replacing fenders and quarter panels to installing new seats and upholstery.
Although the Jeep looked like it could climb Mount Everest, it never did more than carefully creep down a few hunting trails on occasions when extra space was needed. He usually took a beat up pickup truck to the hunting cabin.
Sometimes his wife said, “You love that truck more than me.” Gary laughed but never disagreed.
Inside was his new favorite weapon, a combination Christmas and birthday gift a year before. Gary’s wife loved her husband and knew he loved guns. The Ruger Creedmoor 6.5 mm tactical sniper rifle with a 24 x 50 scope was a total surprise. Gary prided himself on being able to figure out a gift by the questions his wife asked or the things they sometimes did in the months before the holidays.
The Creedmoor was one of the few where he fell well short.
As a competition shooter, Gary could make accurate shots over a mile and was parked less than 100 yards from the entrance. He watched as one gunman killed two women who were fighting over a grocery cart, before opening fire at several other people. Knowing he was too far away to make an accurate shot with his Beretta 9 mm, Gary ran back to his truck and opened the back gate.
His Creedmoor was out. He stepped on his tailgate and climbed onto the Wagoneer’s roof.
Like so many people, Gary had been watching events unfold on the news, and never expected terror to erupt in Casper. From the reports he watched, he knew it would be over quickly. News reports said the earlier attacks were blitz-like and over fast. From atop the Jeep, there was a clear line of sight to the storefront and checkout area. With the bipod open and a few clicks of the MOA adjustment, the rifle was ready to fire.
As a hunter, Gary was accustomed to taking the kill shot, and it never bothered him. He was a survivalist, and the animal never went to waste. From the hide to the meat, he used everything.
Gary wasn’t a trophy hunter, and despised people who killed for sport.
As a competition shooter, his targets were usually made out of paper. Gary had never even seen a person through one of his scopes, and the cold, hard realization of what was about to happen took hold. His whole body started to shake. Tears blurred his vision. There was no way he could make this shot accurately.
He thought about getting closer. There’s no time. Everyone will be dead. They’ll be gone. It’ll be too late.Gary rested his forehead on his right arm and closed his eyes.
“Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”
Gary raised his head and looked at the store.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
He placed his cheek on the padded rifle stock and used his right hand to chamber a round.
“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
He looked through the scope and used his left hand to bring the store into focus.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Gary scanned the store from right to left and found the first gunman. He watched as the man heartlessly shot a clerk whose hands were raised above her head.
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”
Gary took in a breath and breathed out. He held his breath and took the first shot.
The 129-grain full metal jacket projectile left Gary’s barrel at 2,940 feet per second and reached the first gunman faster than the speed of sound. The bullet passed through the glass window and penetrated the man’s body armor, killing him instantly.
Gary watched through the scope and saw the man fall. As he tracked the rifle further to the left, the front windows shattered in a hail of gunfire. There was a short pause before additional shots were fired, and Gary could hear parked cars being hit and more windows breaking.
Lying prone on the roof of his Jeep, he didn’t provide much of a target, and Gary doubted the gunman knew what he was shooting at.
Continuing to search for the gunman, Gary said, “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.”
More gunfire came from inside, and two more people were shot in the parking lot.
“Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”
Gary found the second gunman and watched him discard an empty magazine before inserting a full one. “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
He squeezed the trigger gently and the second gunman died before firing a shot from his fresh magazine.
The survivalist took a deep breath and sighed. “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, a world without end. Amen.”
Gary made the sign of the cross.
The police arrived a few minutes later and Gary was still on top of his Jeep, crying. There was a lot of confusion, and several officers were pointing weapons at the survivalist before witnesses explained that Gary was a hero. And had saved lives.
He didn’t feel like a hero. He was tired and wanted nothing more than to sleep. But it would be a long time before he did.
Hailed as a “life save” and “true hero”, he would receive interview requests from Dave Maltese and Anderson Cooper with CNN, Brian Williams, Connie Chung and many more. He would be offered, along with many others, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Gary would be one of only a few that declined the offer and all interviews.
The few times he spoke with reporters, it was only to say, “People died. A real hero would have stopped them before that happened.”
Excerpt from Back Friday – An American Jihad, late summer 2019.
Greg J. Gardner
Author of Black Friday – An American Jihad
Banner Elk, NC