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Hero of Walmart Shooting Was Homeless: Cops

El Paso police finally identify transient day laborer Lazaro Ponce as man who rescued infant
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2020 9:22 AM CST
Lazaro Ponce is pictured in an undated photo (left) and in an image made from surveillance video.   (GoFundMe)

(Newser) – El Paso police say they've finally identified a hero of the mass shooting that killed 22 people at a Walmart on Aug. 3. Surveillance footage captured a man running out of the store carrying an infant whose parents had been fatally shot. A second video showed the man approaching a police officer with 2-month-old Paul Gilbert in his arms. But the man's identity remained a mystery until Lazaro Ponce reached out to the El Paso Times from Memphis, Tenn., where he now resides. "I did what I could. At that moment, I wasn't thinking of anything," said the 43-year-old transient day laborer, who was unaware police were looking for him. "The scene there looked like a horror movie," he added, per KVIA, noting the shooter had killed the boy's mother and father within a bank in the store.

Police confirmed Ponce as the hero after he was interviewed by the FBI on Monday. Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said the child "could have suffocated" if Ponce hadn't removed him "from among the dead bodies." His mother had fallen on top of him, according to earlier reports. Ponce then "ran back into the store and with a shopping cart went to the towel section and went around treating the wounded and applying pressure," Carrillo said. Ponce and his wife were then homeless, living in a camp near the Walmart. Both say they were inside the store as the shooting began. Ponce's wife launched a GoFundMe campaign for her husband, a Texas native, on Jan. 6, though donations have only come within the last week. Some $2,700 has been raised as of this writing, up from $455 on Monday. (Police say another witness invented a heroic story.)

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