Private First Class Patrick Montgomery was at the gas station next to Bragg Pawn Shop in Fayetteville, North Carolina, when seven to 10 gunshots rang out on the night of Nov. 30.
“As I turned my truck around, I saw the pawn shop door all shot up,” Montgomery told Army Times. “I’m not sure what prompted me to respond, I just had a feeling that someone might need help, which they did."
After calling the police, Montgomery approached the door and noticed a pool of blood on the ground. He then poked his head through the shattered door to make sure no shooters were still in the building.
That’s when he saw a “massive trail of blood leading from the door to behind the counter."
“I then asked if anyone needed help, which is when I saw the owner pop his head up and collapse,” Montgomery recounted. " I immediately broke more glass so I could fit in the door and ran to behind the counter, which is where I saw the owner bleeding out, clearly shot in his lower leg."
Running toward the gunshots may not have been the wisest choice, the soldier conceded, but local police said Montgomery’s actions helped save the life of the pawn shop’s co-owner.
Ron Ruple, 63, had been shot in the leg during a robbery, which is still under investigation by local law enforcement.
“I absolutely believe he played a part in saving the victim’s life,” said Det. Richard Vernon of the Fayetteville Police Department. “It probably wasn’t the smartest thing, but hey, I give him credit."
Vernon was one of the detectives on scene in the wake of the robbery.
He reviewed surveillance footage in the pawn shop that showed Montgomery entering the building through a door with broken glass and begin looking for a belt to use as a tourniquet, before ultimately going for a more unconventional item.
“After getting him on his back, I reached for my belt, only I wasn’t wearing one,” Montgomery said. “I noticed a shelf filled with power tools, so I ran over and grabbed a power tool with a cord, broke the zip-tie off of the tool and wrapped the cord around his leg and attempted to apply a makeshift tourniquet.”
While they waited for paramedics, the owner continued to slip in and out of consciousness.
Montgomery focused on keeping the man awake and talking, telling him everything would be fine and asking him to describe the shooter.
“His eyes where rolling backward by this time, so I screamed at him to stay with me,” Montgomery added. “Shortly after, the EMTs arrived. They later told me that if I hadn’t put the tourniquet on when I did, he would have died — that I saved his life.”
The owner is now in stable condition and was released from the hospital Wednesday.
There are plans to approve an award for the soldier, but the level of it has not yet been determined, according to Maj. Rich Foote, a spokesman for 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
Montgomery enlisted as an infantryman in December 2018. He graduated basic training and Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, before being assigned to Fort Bragg as his first duty assignment with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
“My plans going forward in my Army career are to continue to learn and strive to be the best soldier I can be as I continue further up the ranks," Montgomery said.
“Being in the army will allow me to continue to support my beautiful wife and 3-month-old son,” he added.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.