MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG/KTSM) — A man living on the streets of Memphis is being hailed as a hero after police say he saved a baby and helped others in the midst of the horrific Aug. 3 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart.
Following the tragic events, the El Paso Police Department tried finding the man to honor his acts of bravery. Police say he not only rescued the baby, but he went back inside the store, grabbed towels and packed the wounds of those who were injured.
Nearly six months later, the man now identified as Lazaro Ponce, 43, and his wife, Crystal Robert, tell their side of the story. The couple is homeless, but KTSM’s sister station, WREG, tracked them down by driving around the streets of Memphis asking if anyone recognized them.
“We pretty much just went about our daily lives and had no idea,” Roberts said about efforts to find them.
The couple said they were living in a homeless shelter near the Walmart at the time of the shooting. They left soon after, traveling to other states before settling in Tennessee.
Roberts and Ponce described the moment shots rang out.
“All of a sudden I just look up at the guy shooting, shot this woman in the head and he started opening fire on people outside,” said Roberts, who then hid behind a shopping cart
“I said, ‘To hell with this, I got to come back and get my wife,'” Ponce said.
That’s when he noticed a woman shot, holding her baby.
“I see the baby and I told her, ‘Hey look, give me the baby, please, before this guy comes back and finishes me, you off and the baby,'” Ponce said.
He ran out and gave the child to paramedics, but he wasn’t done.
“I go back in and tried to help more people in there. I helped a guy in a wheelchair,” Ponce said.
Ponce, was unaware investigators were looking for him until his wife saw an article with his picture. He now knows at least one child from that tragic day now has a chance at life.
“I’m happy, I’m glad he’s going to have a future. He’s going to have a life, grow up and have a family,” Ponce said.
Police say 21-year-old Patrick Crusius drove more than 10 hours from his home near Dallas to carry out the attack. He has pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges in the attack. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.