Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
A Fort Leavenworth soldier who took action to end an active-shooter situation May 27 on Centennial Bridge in Leavenworth spoke with local media about the incident during a press conference May 28 at Sherman Gate.
Master Sgt. David Royer, a corrections noncommissioned officer with the 705th Military Police Battalion (Detention), said he was eastbound waiting to cross the bridge into Missouri when the incident occurred. He said he was talking with his fiancee, Haley Siela, on speaker phone when the suspect exited a vehicle and began shooting a rifle at other vehicles on the bridge. Royer instructed Siela to call 911 before he hung up the phone.
“I assessed the situation very quickly, looked around and just took the only action possible that I felt I could take,” Royer said. “I accelerated my truck as quickly as possible and struck the active shooter and pinned him underneath my truck.”
While waiting for law enforcement to arrive, Royer said he got out of his truck and further assessed the situation. When he found the suspect underneath the truck and determined that there was no longer a threat, he said he began life-saving procedures. Law enforcement showed up within minutes, he said.
“It was a textbook response on their part,” Royer said. “They were amazing on how they handled the situation.”
Royer said he has had plenty of training for situations such as this during his 15-year career with the military including military police special reaction team training, Air Assault School, a military police investigator course and other situation-specific training, which also attributed to his quick reaction.
“I was shocked that it was happening, but the adrenaline took over and with the military training that I’ve received, I took appropriate action and took out the threat as fast as possible,” Royer said. “I didn’t imagine (an active shooter situation) would happen in traffic, but it was always in the back of my mind because of how crazy things are in the world today.
“I constantly think in places that (my family and I) are at, ‘What would I do?’” he said. “If something were to happen, where are the exit points if my children are with me, if my fiancee is with me? How do I get them safe before I react?”
Royer said he also attributed his quick actions to his upbringing.
“It runs in our blood to stand up and do what’s right and put ourselves in front of harm’s way if we need to,” Royer said. “(My parents) have shown me, do not let fear take control of you and do what’s right and protect the innocent.”
Local law enforcement as well as Royer’s commanders agreed that his actions were heroic.
“He won’t call himself a hero, but I will,” said Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens. “He saved countless lives. … His actions were extraordinary, and he should be commended for that.
“We’re grateful … on behalf of the entire Leavenworth community,” Kitchens said.
Col. Caroline Smith, 15th Military Police Brigade commander, said she was proud of Royer.
“I think many people will sit back and wonder what would they do at a time of adversity like that and would they have the confidence and the courage to act when necessary,” Smith said.
“I think Master Sergeant Royer did exactly what needed to happen in order to neutralize the threat. He had a split second to decide and he made the decision and he made the right decision.
“He acted with courage and conviction. Because of that, I have no doubt that he saved many people’s lives,” she said. “We’ll never know how many lives he saved, but I can say I’m super proud of the actions he took and who he is as an NCO and a soldier in the Army.”
Siela said she was proud, too.
“I couldn’t have done what he did,” she said.
Royer has a different mindset.
“There are people all around the world that will do things like that, and I believe there is more good out there than there is bad,” Royer said. “There are good people out there that will stop a situation like that and save lives if necessary.
“My life is worth something, but there are also many other lives out there, too,” he said, “so if I can sacrifice myself for the majority, that is my motive.”
Two people were injured during the incident, including an active-duty soldier who was shot and the shooting suspect. Both are being treated for injuries. Law enforcement continue to investigate the incident.
Royer joined the Army in 2005 and has been stationed at Fort Leavenworth since 2014.