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  3. In the Line of Fire: Transportation Security Officer Stops Active Shooter

In the Line of Fire: Transportation Security Officer Stops Active Shooter

Release Date: April 14, 2022
Wallace West
Wallace (Wally) West, a Transportation Security Officer at the Fort Smith Regional Airport, is receiving a Secretary’s Award for Valor. View the full list of award recipients.

Wally West woke to the sound of gunshots outside of his apartment. Shaking off sleep, the off-duty Transportation Security Officer wondered if the sounds might have come from Fort Chaffee, an Army National Guard installation just a couple miles away.

He and his adult son gathered in the kitchen to assess the situation. It became apparent that the sounds were not from the nearby installation, but from an active shooter outside. Another round of shots pierced the silence of the night and the shooter could be heard taunting an elderly first-floor occupant, "I'm coming after you.”

West, who is an avid hunter, grabbed his hunting rifle from his gun cabinet. By the time West returned with his rifle to the balcony, the assailant had already fatally shot one neighbor and was continuing to threaten others. West shot at the assailant and missed, drawing the shooter’s attention as well as his fire. "He wheeled around, and I got my son back inside the apartment. I think the closest projectile jacket police measured was about 9 inches from where I was actually standing."

West returned fire, fatally hitting the shooter. West and his son quickly moved down to the courtyard, kicked the shooter's weapon away from reach, and remained there until law enforcement arrived.

A thorough investigation by the Fort Smith Police Department and county prosecutor's office said West's "decision to risk his own life, shooting the assailant as he stood on his apartment balcony, likely saved the lives of neighbors and law enforcement who arrived."

Last Updated: 04/14/2022
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