A retired Marine was recalling the moment he helped a family to safety during a gun battle that left a California Highway Patrol officer and a suspect dead in Riverside, California, on Monday, Aug. 12, ABC7 reported.
Charles Childress, a retired Marine, had only moments to react after he saw a bullet pierce the windshield of the car in front of his. A mother and her two children were inside.
“The bullet went through her windshield and through her car, and then that’s when I heard the kids screaming,” Childress said.
The incident happened at around 5:35 p.m. when a California Highway Patrol officer conducted a traffic stop of a suspect in a GMC pickup truck near the 215 Freeway, police said.
A gun battle ensued, officials said a California Highway Patrol officer and a suspect were killed, two other officers were injured.
During the incident, Childress didn’t stop to think about his own safety. Shots were still being fired when he helped rescue Jennifer Moctezuma and her 6-year-old twins from their vehicle.
“The bullet went straight in the middle of my windshield, missing my head and my two kids. They were in the back,” Moctezuma said.
With bullets flying as the shootout continued between a gunman and California Highway Patrol officers, Childress risked his life, jumping out of his car and running to the family’s car.
“I grabbed the two kids, and I put them to the side of the car, hid them behind the engine block of the car. It’s the only protection, so there were still rounds being fired, there were gunshots being fired between the officers and whoever was up there,” Childress said.
“So, I waited for a lull in the shooting, and I brought them from their car to my car and we had a couple more ricochets pass us,” Childress added.
As more deputies arrived, Childress was able to guide Moctezuma and her children to safety behind police lines.
Childress credits his service in the Marine Corps for helping him spring into action to protect the family.
“That’s what we train for in the Marine Corps,” Childress said. “So, I’m just glad the kids are OK.”