Authorities in Charleston, West Virginia, are hailing the brave and decisive actions of an armed female who they say “prevented a mass casualty event.”
The incident began last Wednesday when folks at a birthday party asked 37-year-old Dennis Butler to slow down after they claimed he was speeding through a parking lot where there were children at play.
Butler, a two-time convicted felon, was allegedly enraged by the request. He would return a short while later, armed with an AR-pattern rifle.
When Butler pulled back up, he began firing at the crowd of partygoers.
Police say that’s when the quick-acting citizen returned fire and fatally shot the attacker.
“This lady was carrying a lawful firearm,” Lt. Tony Hazelett with the Charleston Police Department told local media.
“A law abiding citizen who stopped the threat of probably 20 or 30 people getting killed. She engaged the threat and stopped it,” he continued. “She didn’t run from the threat, she engaged it. Preventing a mass casualty event here in Charleston.”
The woman, who has not been identified, had no formal police or military training, police said.
“She’s just a member of the community who was carrying her firearm lawfully, and instead of running from the threat, she engaged with the threat and saved several lives last night,” said Lt. Hazelett.
“She did the right thing. I don’t know if any other person would have done that,” he added.
Butler was no stranger to law enforcement. Along with his two felonies, he was accused of pistol-whipping a 19-year-old woman in 2016.
However, those charges were dismissed because no witnesses came forward to testify, reports local news affiliate WRAL.com.
Butler, as mentioned, did not survive the encounter. He died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds.
Police are still investigating how Butler, a prohibited person under federal law, obtained the firearm.
The armed citizen stayed at the scene following the incident and is cooperating with investigators, police said. She will not face any charges as all signs suggest her use of force was justified.
Stay tuned for updates.