As bullets sprayed

The guy who stopped the shooter:

Richard M. Fierro said he was at a table in Club Q with his wife, daughter and friends on Saturday, watching a drag show, when the sudden flash of gunfire ripped across the nightclub. His instincts from four combat deployments as an Army officer in Iraq and Afghanistan instantly kicked in. Fight back, he told himself.

In an interview at his house, where his wife and daughter were still recovering from injuries, Mr. Fierro, 45, who left the Army in 2013 as a major, according to military records, described charging through the chaos at the club, tackling the gunman and beating him bloody with the gunman’s own gun.

When the shooting started, Mr. Fierro said, he hit the floor, pulling a friend down with him. As bullets sprayed, he saw the gunman move through the bar toward a door leading to a patio where dozens of bar patrons had fled. Mr. Fierro, who served in the Army for 15 years, said he raced across the room, grabbed the gunman by a handle on the back of his body armor, pulled him to the floor and jumped on top of him.

“Was he shooting at the time? Was he about to shoot? I don’t know,” Mr. Fierro said. “I just knew I had to take him down.”

He bashed him over the head repeatedly.

As the fight continued, he said, he yelled for other club patrons to help him. A man grabbed the rifle and moved it away to safety. A drag dancer stomped on the gunman with her high heels. The whole time, Mr. Fierro said, he kept pummeling the shooter’s head while the two men screamed obscenities at each other.

He had thought he was finished with that kind of thing. He’d wanted to be finished with it.

Mr. Fierro, who owns a local brewery, said that on combat deployments in the Army, he had been shot at and had seen roadside bombs shred trucks in his platoon. His record shows that he was awarded the Bronze Star twice. The experiences of combat still haunt him, he said, and the psychological and physical toll of the deployments were why he left the Army.

He said he never thought he would have to deal with that kind of violence at home.

“I was done with war,” he said.

But this is the United States, where there are more guns than people.

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