Phoenix, AZ – An armed felon who fatally shot a gas station customer in the head was tackled to the ground and disarmed by a group of people after he tried to take them hostage (video below).
Recently released surveillance footage captured the May 9, 2018 attack at the Circle K store near the intersection of Grant Street and 19th Avenue, KNXV reported.
Without provocation or any exchange of words, 53-year-old Joel McClain Carson walked up behind 24- year-old Efran Hernandez as he was waiting in line, and shot him in the back of the head with a stolen .22-caliber handgun, video footage showed.
Police said Carson and Hernandez had never met.
The father-of-two died at the scene.
After murdering Hernandez, Carson pointed the gun at other customers and forced an employee to lock the doors into the business, KNXV reported.
He then barricaded the front door with a donut display case, and ordered his hostages to stay huddled in a corner of the business.
“My only thought [was] how am I going to get out of here?” recalled Armando Martinez, who was one of the hostages. “I’m going to get out of here one way or another…I wasn’t going to die that day.”
Martinez said that many of the hostages began to cry, and that some of them didn’t speak English, KNXV reported.
“[The gunman] said, ‘This is not a game, this is not a joke,’” another witness recounted to KTVK. “’I don’t want no money, don’t want no beer. I came prepared to die.’”
The gunman then stormed towards the group and attempted to shoot a man who was lying face-down on the floor, but the gun wouldn’t fire, Martinez told KNXV.
“I heard the gun jam, and that’s when I told my coworker, I’m like ‘Hey, it just jammed!'” he recalled. “There is no way in hell I was going to die that day.”
Martinez said he saw Carson attempting to clear the jam, and that he even watched the suspect point the weapon at his own face in order to examine the inside of the barrel at one point.
The hostage said he realized that this was his opportunity to catch the gunman off-guard, and he began charging towards him.
“He raised the gun and said, ‘Don’t try to be a hero,’ and that’s when I grabbed it,” Martinez told KNXV.
He was able to use his momentum to tackle the much-larger gunman to the ground, video footage showed.
Martinez said that the weapon was pointed at Carson as they fell.
“So, I pulled the trigger,” he told KNXV. “I pulled the trigger four times.”
But the gun still didn’t fire.
As they wrestled on the ground, an employee armed with a red plastic crate jumped into the fray, and began bashing Carson, video footage showed.
Within a second, more customers swarmed the gunman and began pummeling him.
“At that point, it was do what you want, either get out of here or you help me,” Martinez said of the other hostages. “And they all chose to help me. Got a lot of respect for them for that.”
The group pinned Carson down and wrestled his gun away during he brawl, The Washington Post reported.
“Whoa! They’re tackling him!” a 911 caller relayed to the dispatcher. “They tackled him! They tackled him!”
The cashiers and customers then removed the barricade and escaped from the store, leaving Carson inside.
During the hourlong standoff that ensued, police launched a flash-bang grenade through a window, knocking the gunman to the ground, KPNX reported.
A SWAT team then swarmed the store, and Carson was shot during the confrontation that ensued.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has since ruled that the officer-involved shooting was justified, FOX News reported.
Carson was taken to a hospital, where he remained for one week, KNXV reported.
He was booked into jail on a slew of charges, including nine counts of kidnapping, eight counts of aggravated assault, first-degree murder, and possession of a weapon by a prohibited person.
Detectives later determined that the gunman’s weapon misfired a total of eight times, WFTS reported.
Each of the rounds “had been struck with the firing pin, however, the bullets did not go off due to the cylinder being out of alignment,” the investigative report read.
Carson allegedly confessed to having murdered Hernandez, and said that he “wanted police to kill him,” The Washington Post reported.
He had already been convicted of multiple felonies prior to executing Hernandez, according to WFTS.
Martinez said he is thankful that he and the other hostages are safe, but that he regrets not being able to do something to save Hernandez, who bled out on the convenience store floor during the standoff.
“Maybe I could’ve, we could’ve, pulled [Hernandez] out or maybe pulled [Carson] out so the cops can get in there, and he didn’t have that standoff,” Martinez told KNXV. “Maybe his life could’ve been saved. I always think about that. I’ve put that on my shoulders for a long time.”
You can watch surveillance footage of the hostages overtaking the gunman