A father pulled out his concealed carry gun in a “gun free zone” inside a Nebraska mall.
He was shopping there with his family when a fatal shooting unfolded.
“Every indication said our lives were in danger, and I was going to do everything in my power to make sure we got out of there OK,” Scott Tafoya said.
The Omaha Westroads Mall is a gun-free zone, but Tafoya said he had to pull out his legal concealed carry gun and “deal with the consequence later.”
“I knew that if I ever pulled that out, it would truly be a life-and-death situation, and I would deal with the consequences later,” he said.
The scene unfolded on Saturday while Tafoya was trying on a new suit for his daughter’s baptism and his wife and two daughters were shopping upstairs in the mall.
He saw a group of people running and made eye contact with a man who yelled, “Shooter!”
He ran to his family while unholstering his gun, and his wife told him she heard gunfire.
He then stood guard outside of a bathroom where mall officials had people shelter.
“I said I have a permit, I’m legal,” he said.
He later moved toward the escalators to draw any danger away from his family.
“Everyone else on the third floor just got added into that because the best way to keep my family safe was to make sure nobody with ill intentions came up that escalator,” Tafoya said, mentioning that he didn’t feel any fear during the shooting situation. “I was sad. Because I wasn’t expecting to. If it was real, I didn’t think I was going to come home.”
Police soon arrived on the scene, and Tafoya unloaded the bullets of his gun and put his hands up.
“I unloaded my weapon. I put it back in the holster where it was very visible that the slide was locked open. I put my permit in my hands and my hands above my head,” he said.
Law enforcement officers also did not charge him for having a gun in a gun-free zone, and he added that those zones put people at risk.
“I don’t condone anyone breaking the law. I made the decision that was right for my family, and I stand behind it. I may still get in trouble for it. If I do, it was worth it,” he said.
Two brothers, both teenagers, were arrested in connection to the suspected “gang-related” shooting, which left one person dead and another injured.
“The investigation indicates this was an isolated incident and not a random attack,” Omaha police said.