HOUSTON -- A Houston police sergeant who thwarted a possible mass shooting at a Texas mall is being called a hero, after details of his actions finally came to light.
The incident happened at the Galleria mall on Feb. 5, but Sgt. Kendrick Simpo is just now speaking out about it for the first time.
"I definitely know what I signed up for 20 years ago when I got into this profession," said the soft-spoken sergeant, who currently works in the Houston Police Victim Services Division.
On the day of the incident, while working his extra job at the Galleria mall, a call came over the radio saying that a man was near the Macy's store with a rifle.
Simpo, along with a security guard at the mall, quickly walked to that direction. However, because there was a children's dance competition at the Westin hotel ballroom attached to the mall, Simpo kept his weapon in his holster.
"I did know there was a dance competition with little kids going on at the Westin Ballroom, so I didn't pull my weapon out because I didn't want to be running towards the Macy's area, which is past the ballroom area, with the gun out and startle anyone," Simpo said.
Simpo was just wearing a soft vest and had a handgun, but went anyway. "I knew if a person did have a rifle and they were inside the mall, I was pretty much outnumbered, because all I had was a handgun at the time. My handgun and his rifle, I was already at a disadvantage," he said.
Within minutes, Simpo spotted the suspect, later identified as Guido Herrera, near the Westin Ballroom entrance, within a few feet of hundreds of children. Surveillance video shows Herrera wearing a shirt with the Punisher logo, carrying a rifle in one hand, a Bible in another, and wearing a leather mask with spikes.
"I quickly bum-rushed, tackled him. And my first reaction was to make sure that I get a hold of the rifle. No matter what I grabbed, make sure I grabbed that rifle," Simpo said. "I had in my mind (that) I was going to get shot. I just had to bear the pain, I knew it was going to hurt, and I was like, 'Whatever I do, I cannot let go of this rifle.'"
Simpo was able to redirect the weapon upwards, toward the ceiling, as he pinned Herrera against the wall. Help quickly arrived, and Herrera was arrested without a single shot being fired.
Once under arrest, police took inventory of what he carried. Besides the rifle and Bible, they also found 120 rounds of ammunition and a handgun. However, since Herrera didn't actually shoot anyone, he did not commit a felony offense under Texas law.
Herrera was charged with a misdemeanor for the Galleria incident. Then, on March 18, he showed up at the Houston FBI headquarters asking to meet with the director of the agency. In that incident, he had a gun in the car. However, because no shots were fired and he didn't point the weapon at anyone, he was again just charged with a misdemeanor.