DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Four officers with the Dallas Police Department are being heralded as heroes after their quick actions helped save the life of a 4-year-old girl who got caught in the middle of a drive-by shooting.
Officers Juan Saldana, Christina Mattox, Jesus Tovar and J. Brandon Helms took the a podium at Dallas Police Headquarters and recalled what Officer Helms jokingly described as what “was supposed to be an easy day working the MegaFest Festival.”
The four officers were working in downtown Dallas last Saturday afternoon, all were assigned to be in and around the convention center during Bishop T.D. Jakes mega-church religious conference.
According to police, three men fired multiple shots at a car as a family drove through Oak Cliff. The 4-year-old girl was hit in the leg. In a panic and searching for help, her mom made the four-minute drive to downtown.
Officer Saldana recalled, “I was flagged down by the family. I was at the intersection of Young Street and Lamar when the step-dad and the mother got out of the car. I saw that the mother had the little kid in her arms, bleeding.”
Officer Saldana called for police assistance and cover. Officer Mattox was just a block away and was the first to respond. “When I arrived I observed the mom holding the daughter and asked them what was going on. She told me that her daughter had been shot. And it took me a second to process that she [the little girl] had been shot.”
On it’s website, the American Red Cross lists tourniquets as a common first aid tool. The site says tourniquets can “stop the flow of blood, which could cause permanent damage to a limb.” Many officers across North Texas carry a tourniquet and gauze, in case one of their own or a citizen is injured.
According to Officer Tovar, Dallas Police Department officers go through some the longest training of any law enforcement rookie in the nation. Tovar said in addition to dozens of weeks of standard training the DPD requires several more weeks of learning. He went on to say that, “It was in that extra training that we received training on how to use the Downed Officer Kit, which had to tourniquet that we used to save the young, precious child’s life.”
Officer Mattox said that in all her experience, in the military and as a police officer, she never thought she would have to use the kit on a child. “When I was actually trying to make it small enough… I was just wondering if I actually was gonna get it small enough to go around her leg. I was a little bit worried.”
Officer Mattox said the little girl appeared to be in shock, but remained quiet and relaxed. All of the officers said that as they waited for Dallas Fire Rescue to arrive they cheered the 4-year-old on and encouraged her to fight to stay alive. Officer Tovar said, “It was a Mega Fest event, there’s no doubt that it was saturated with prayer. And do I believe Heaven’s door opened and extended a helping had; I personally believe that took place and also in saving that young girl’s life.”
Witnesses say the shooting happened after a couple got into an argument and three men fired six or seven shots at the family of four. The 4-year-old girl, who was shot in the left leg, remains hospitalized but is said to be recovering well.
(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)