The first bullet entering Dan McKown felt like it electrified his nervous system while also setting it on fire. He had just come face to face with a gunman firing shots in the Tacoma Mall on Nov. 20, 2005. With his own concealed carry, McKown politely asked the shooter to put his weapon down. McKown couldn’t have known the shooter’s gun was modified to “tap fire,” and the weapon hanging from the shooter’s side like a briefcase fired with a flick to the thigh, making McKown one of seven injured in the spree.
Over the next hour and a half, McKown lay in the middle of the mall cared for by his friend Crystal, who was working at the mall at the time, and Moses Martinez, an Iraq war veteran who had successfully evacuated another store and returned to see what he could do to help. While the active shooter took hostages at a separate store, McKown was eventually carried out on a stretcher by a SWAT team, later finding out he was paralyzed.
The SWAT members comforted McKown by telling him he was their mission, that they were there for him. Now, a decade later, it’s time for Tacoma to deliver on a similar promise.
McKown has been short on funds, and when his car started having trouble a few weeks ago he wasn’t sure what to do. McKown took to Facebook to ask close friends for assistance, and his car has since been repaired, but Tacoma resident Donna Walters thinks that shouldn’t be necessary, and she’s trying to organize an auction to help McKown have a cushion in the bank.
“He needs money in the bank. Tacoma should be taking care of their own. He’s a hero – he tried to stop this guy and it feels like he’s the forgotten soldier,” Walters said.
Walters is soliciting help from the community to donate items to an auction to be held at Lady Luck Cowgirl Up, 14114 Pacific Ave. S. These can be anything from physical items to gift cards or even services like haircuts from barbershops. In all, Walters is hoping to raise $20,000 for McKown.
“Tacoma needs to step up. If anyone wants to donate any type of items that people can bid on – haircuts, dinner for two – we can have all this stuff and set it up at Lady Luck. We have to do something to help raise money,” Walters said.
McKown draws disability and oftentimes has trouble managing his pain. An unexpected expense can be a major problem, such as when his car was having issues a few weeks ago, which prompted the initial Facebook post.
“He has two kinds of courage – courage to fight a bullet and courage again to ask for help. That’s another type of courage; that’s something that’s very hard to do,” Walters said.
This is not the first time an effort has been put together to help McKown. A comedy show last November yielded disappointing results, but Walters is confident that Tacoma will step up and assist one of their own.
These issues have inspired McKown to have a new goal, the establishment of a charity that assists citizens who have been injured trying to perform a good deed. The idea even already has a name: “Samaritan Shield.”
“I would like to do a charity for other Samaritans who have gotten hurt in the line of doing something decent,” McKown said.