1st Officers on Scene of Deadly Greenville Shooting Took Matters Into Their Own Hands

For a sheriff's department that counts on just a handful of deputies on duty at any given time, Hunt County first responders had to take matters into their own hands as they rushed into a chaotic and unsecured situation Saturday night.

Two of the officers who were among the first on scene at a shooting in Greenville in which two people died, spoke exclusively with NBC 5 Sunday evening.

Even for those trained to respond to such emergencies, the sights and sounds of Sunday morning’s tragedy still ring loud.

"We're human too," deputy Jonathan Beasley said. "We try to help everyone we can."

One second the department had heard about a packed costume party, the next there was widespread panic.

"It's safe to say at least 600-plus people tried to get out, basically out of two windows and a door at the same time," he said.

Beasley had been called to the party about 15 minutes before the shooting for a complaint about too many cars parked along Highway 380.

Beasley said he spoke with the event's private security personnel who said they were trying to address the parking issue.

He then walked about 50 yards away from the building with an unidentified woman he said had caused an issue at the party.

"I heard a couple shots ring out. It was really hard to tell due to how many people, how loud it was out there," he said.

After about a dozen more shots were fired, Beasley and the handcuffed woman knew the party had turned into a massive shooting.

"The only thing I could think to do is I grabbed her, drug her to the back of my patrol vehicle and unhandcuffed her and said, 'Run, run to your vehicle,'" Beasley said.

He then radioed for backup.

"It was bone-chilling," said Sgt. Caleb Pippin of the radio call for help.

Pippin rushed to the scene not knowing if officers were under fire.

Both men found themselves treating an avalanche of victims spilling out from the small events building.

"One victim had a really bad [cut] on his arm. I had to apply tourniquets to his arm, reassure him he was going to be OK," Beasley said. "A male said he'd been shot in the leg."

A group of about four people ran to Pippin carrying their friend who had been shot in the neck.

"I knew I had to get him to the hospital. I made the decision to have them put him in the back of my squad car and just take him 'priority' to the hospital," Pippin said. "I was worried not only about a head injury, but a spinal injury, so I tried to get [his friends] to keep him as still as possible while running lights and sirens to the hospital."

Training, they said, can't fully prepare you for what happened late Saturday night near Greenville.

"It's an unfortunate situation, the total number of victims and the deceased," Pippin said. "You want to save a life and doing what we did that's what we hoped."

Both said training would typically have them look for the threat first, but in this case they had hundreds, if not a thousand people, running toward them all at once.

They had no idea if they were dealing with innocent bystanders or the shooter.

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