NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – An off-duty Chattanooga firefighter did not hesitate to stop and help a shooting victim on the interstate Saturday afternoon.
Brad Petty was driving on Interstate-24, heading home from his son’s wrestling tournament in Lebanon. His wife and four children ages 5 to 18 were with him in the car when he noticed a vehicle swerve in front of him near Interstate-840 in Murfreeboro.
“I seen the car swerve over to the side of the road, and, the passenger get out and when he opened up the back door is when he started jumping up and down waving his arms, and he started to run out into traffic,” Petty recalled, “I can tell by looking at his face, you know, the fear and the panic that he had, that there was something, something really really wrong.”
Petty, a 21-year-Chattanooga firefighter, didn’t think twice.
“I immediately, I pulled to the side of the road and got out of the van and as I started walking back, he started running toward me, and he was yelling, ‘Somebody’s shot her! Somebody’s shot her!'”
“That’s when I ran up to the vehicle and opened up the door. She was slumped over like she’s about to fall out. And, you know, first thing I checked for a pulse, and she had a strong pulse. And so I know we need to get our airway open, and you know try to stop the bleeding,” Petty explained.
The victim was a 19-year-old woman who had been sitting in the back seat and was shot in the head.
While Petty was rendering aid to the the victim, one of the her siblings was attempting to call 9-1-1, but shock began to set in. That’s when Petty’s 18-year-old daughter, an experienced lifeguard with panic situation training, came to help.
“I took over on the phone,” Hannah Petty told News 2, “And I kind of, I kept the siblings away, but not like far, so they were close enough but they could still see the sister, but far enough away where they’re not like falling all over her and like yelling, the whole time.”
Meanwhile, Petty grabbed a t-shirt and tried to stop the bleeding.
“I had to clean the blood off to try to find where the wounds were. And then, you know, I was holding compression on and just kind of stopped the bleeding,” he said.
Petty’s 8-year-old son captured cell phone video of the Life Flight landing on the I-24, while his wife prayed with the siblings, and he stayed with the victim.
“Fire, police, EMS, those are kind of professions that you’re never really off duty. It just kind of becomes who you are,” Petty told News 2, “I think that’s my purpose; it’s my calling, and it’s a blessing to be there for people.”
It’s a similar calling he said he now sees in his daughter.
“I was kind of worried at first at how she would handle the situation, the trauma, but she never missed a beat,” he expressed.
“I know now that I can be calm in situations like that where everyone else is freaking out,” his daughter added.
“And she wants to be a doctor, so now I think she’s kind of changing, where she was wanting to be an oncologist, she’s looking at an ER doctor now,” he said with a smile.
Two men were arrested in connection with the shooting.
The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office said Keyonn Warfield, 20, has been charged with attempted murder, while Rizighallah Khemis, 19, is charged with conspiracy to commit attempted murder.
Investigators first thought it was a road rage incident, but said the victim and suspect know each other.
The victim remained hospitalized Monday afternoon in critical condition, but was stable, the sheriff’s office said.