By CHRIS EVERSOLE
Mustang resident Bradley Grimsley was a career Marine, retiring at the rank of master sergeant, yet the only life-threatening wound he ever received was at a civilian.
He was among the people that a gunman shot during a mass shooting in West Texas a week and a half ago that killed seven and wounded another 22.
Grimsley credits his Marine training with helping him keep his composure while under attack, and with keeping the situation from being even worse.
He also used driving techniques he learned from watching Dale Earnhardt Sr. navigate his way to NASCAR fame with helping him save his life and the lives of his wife, Brenda, and her sister.
On Aug. 31, the three were driving on the highway outside Midland – traveling to see Brenda’s mother in Pecos, Texas, when they saw a state trooper stop a vehicle.
They saw the gunman, later identified as Seth Aaron Ator, get out of his vehicle with his gun drawn.
“We heard the pops starting,” Brenda Grimsley said.
Although the trooper was wounded, the Grimsleys later learned that he survived.
Right after the trooper was hit, the shooter drove up behind the Grimsleys.
“He moved over to the fast lane, and when he did that, out the corner of my eye, I caught the black of his gun’s muzzle sticking out the window,” Bradley Grimsley said.
“I hit my brakes, told them to get down, and, at the same time, I got shot,” Bradley Grimsley said.
A single bullet went through the Grimsleys’ SUV’s door and into Bradley’s abdomen.
By braking, Bradley Grimsley limited the time the shooter was beside him and prevented him from firing any more shots from his AR-15-style rifle into the Grimsleys’ SUV.
His wound weakened Bradley, and he asked his wife to steer the SUV while he brought it to a stop.
Within six minutes, an ambulance took Bradley to a hospital.
Authorities moved Brenda away from the scene because they weren’t sure if the gunman would return.
She frantically called relatives, frustrated because she didn’t know what had happened to her husband.
“I didn’t know if he was going to be dead or alive,” she said.
It wasn’t until an hour later that a nurse at the hospital allowed Bradley to call Brenda.
But authorities held her for six hours, interviewing her, with her uncertain about the extent of her husband’s injuries and his prognosis.
What the couple later learned is that Bradley’s wound was close to being fatal.
Shrapnel from the bullet nicked a main artery.
The shrapnel spread, including under Bradley’s ribs, but it didn’t damage any organs.
Brenda is grateful that Bradley’s experience as a Marine and NASCAR fan kicked in.
“That and God saved us,” she said.