NORFOLK, Va. – A Virginia man is being hailed a hero after he single-handedly prevented a would-be mass shooter from potentially taking the lives of dozens of shoppers at the MacArthur Center in downtown Norfolk on Friday.
Thirty-four year-old Nicholas Bell – a native of the Hampton Roads area – had just finished eating lunch at California Pizza Kitchen and was on his way to his car when he encountered a man dressed in military fatigues brandishing a semi-automatic AR-15-style assault rifle. Bell, who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon in the Commonwealth of Virginia, quickly drew his .45 caliber Glock pistol and fired nine rounds, striking and instantly killing the gunman and two nearby shoppers.
Norfolk police say that if it weren’t for Bell’s quick thinking in the face of immediate danger, far more people may have lost their lives. “We could very likely have a mass casualty situation on our hands,” Detective Bryce Lewis told 13News Now, a local ABC affiliate. “Mr. Bell is a hero in the truest sense,” Detective Lewis concluded.
Bell later told 13News Now that he earned his licence to carry a concealed handgun after successfully completing an online training course just two weeks ago. “Best thirty-five bucks I ever spent,” Bell remarked. The former high school track star said that until Friday, he had never fired a gun in his life. “Heck, I just bought this thing last weekend,” he told 13News Now.
According to police, the alleged gunman, twenty-eight year-old Mohammad Schultz of Portsmouth, Virginia, was found carrying a laminated card which identified him as a Life Member of the National Rifle Association. “In addition, a number of brochures and paraphernalia advocating for Second Amendment rights were found in the suspect’s vehicle,” Detective Lewis added. Authorities have yet to determine what motive, if any, the suspect might have had.