HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - She’s being credited with saving the lives of innocent party goers when a man firing a rifle made his way towards a packed nightclub.
A security officer was forced to shoot Samuel Williams, 33, outside of the 3208 Entertainment Complex on Long Avenue in Huntsville at 12:40 a.m. Dec. 31.
Some are calling her a hero, but she says she was just doing her job.
She spoke to the media for the first time on Thursday about the scary chain of events, explaining how the whole ordeal unfolded and the decisions she made to stop the gunman.
The fully certified independent security officer asked for only use her first name, Latoya, as she explained what happened. “There was an altercation at the front of the club. To be safe, we decided to put one of the gentlemen involved outside so that it wouldn't come out into the parking lot. However, the person that we did push outside made the choice to come and retrieve a weapon from their vehicle. They started advancing toward the club while firing off approximately five shots,” she said.
She took cover behind a car that was parked near the front door.
“Once he started to make moves towards the door, he was still firing off shots. I decided I had to make a choice to go ahead and stop him from entering the club. I fired off two shots. He went down,” Latoya stated. Huntsville police say Samuel Williams returned from a vehicle with a black AK-47 rifle and began firing shots while advancing toward the club entrance.
Latoya and another security officer were in the parking lot when the offender started shooting and she was the only armed guard. Williams was shot in his upper right thigh, forcing him to lower his rifle and stop shooting.
Latoya ran into the club to retrieve a tourniquet so she could provide first aid to Williams. When she returned to the parking lot, he had already left in an unknown vehicle. Officers were later dispatched to Crestwood Hospital to investigate a gunshot victim while still processing the scene at Club 3208. Williams was admitted into Huntsville Hospital due to his injuries and then placed under arrest.
“Once shot he was taken to the hospital by citizens who were with him at the time of the shooting. Those individuals have been identified and the investigation is ongoing at this time. No one else was injured by the shooting,” HPD said in a press released.
He is charged with shooting into an unoccupied vehicle (felony), certain persons forbidden to carry (felony), menacing (misdemeanor) and reckless endangerment (misdemeanor).
Latoya trains daily- in the gym, at the range and in hand-to-hand combat to stay proficient. She’s dedicated to her profession and she says that night, her training kicked in.
“It could have gone very badly if he had made it inside the club but luckily, we try to make sure we stay trained up and that we're very proficient at our jobs so that when something like this does happen, unfortunately, everything is second nature, and everything is muscle memory,” Latoya stated. “You don't have to worry about making any mistakes as long as you train yourself appropriately.”
It was quick thinking on her part to protect everyone inside the club where a big crowd just trying to have a good time.
“The only thing on my mind was to do the right thing and to make sure the scene was secure and that no one else was getting hurt,” Latoya added.
Williams, a convicted felon, was still wearing a hospital gown in a wheelchair in his mug shot as he recovers after being shot in the leg.
“Sometimes people make wrong decisions and bad things do happen. The goose can ruin it for the gander. However, we do our jobs and we always try our hardest to do our jobs every night. The people provide this club for us to come out and have a good time, not to display any type of violence, just to have a good time and come and unwind. That's what this place is here for. We don't want it to be known for anything like what just recently happened,” Latoya explained.
Huntsville police say others involved in the incident at the club could also face charges.
Latoya has worked at several clubs in Huntsville since she started working security in 2013, but nothing like this has ever happened before.
“These are people I work with every day and people I see all weekend, during the week when I'm working at different clubs. I know some of these people. They're my friends. I'm just glad that no one else was hurt. That's all I care about,” she stated.
She said at one point, Williams asked her why she shot him. He has prior convictions for robbery and assault, according to court records.
“I didn’t answer. It was a ridiculous question,” she revealed. “Thankfully, he’s still alive today one day, he’s going to have the opportunity to make better choices.”