When most people hear the distinctive popping of gunshots, their first instinct is to flee. Not Sgt. Marshall VanHook.
A recruiter with the Herriman U.S. Army Recruiting Station in Salt Lake City, Utah, VanHook had taken his daughter to get her ears pierced at the Fashion Place Mall in nearby Murray on Jan. 13 when an argument between two members of rival gangs escalated into a shootout, according to an Army release.
The sound of gunshots sent hundreds of panicked shoppers running for their lives. But after getting his wife and daughter to safety in a nearby store, VanHook did exactly what so many other public servants do his situation: He ran towards danger.
"My first response was to make sure my family was taken care of," VanHook said in an Army release. "And then it was just a matter of 'I need to stop this before it gets to my family,' so I took off. I ran towards where I thought the threat was at. While I was running there really were no thoughts other than 'take care of business.'"
After running through the mall in an effort to get a description of the suspected shooters, VanHook immediately turned his attention to casualties. Luckily, the crossfire reportedly left only two bystanders wounded, the Associated Press reported; according to the Army, cell phone video showed VanHook using his belt as a tourniquet for one casualty, directing bystanders to assist him as he moved on to the other.
For his part, VanHook chalked his response up to good training. A nine-year member of the Army Reserve, he had previously served as a civil affairs specialist with the 321st Civil Affairs Brigade before becoming a recruiter, according to the Army. Luckily, he completed the Combat Lifesaver Course in 2014, training he drew upon that fateful day.
"Because of the Army, it instilled something in me to react in danger and not to flee from it," VanHook said in the release. ""You go over [the training] and over it. It's just a matter of muscle memory ... There really wasn't thought. It was action."
According to a local ABC News affiliate, Salt Lake City police have arrested at least five of the suspected gang members present during the shooting.
"It makes me angry," VanHook said of the incident."I'm a little angry that something like that happened. It was my daughter's birthday and it kind of messed it up.
An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)
The Pentagon is sending nearly 1,000 more troops to the Middle East as part of an escalating crisis with Iran that defense officials are struggling to explain.
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
On Monday, Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans received a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail, said Samantha Dooies, an assistant to the New Hanover County District Attorney.
Evans must complete 18 months of unsupervised probation, pay $8,000 in restitution, complete a domestic violence offenders program, and he cannot have any contact with his former girlfriend, Dooies told Task & Purpose. The special operations Marine is also only allowed to have access to firearms though the military while on base or deployed.