Man shares story of taking down Fourth of July shooting suspect before deputies arrive

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A suspect in the Fourth of July shooting remains in the hospital in custody.

Now, we’re hearing from the man who jumped into action when the shots rang out. He spoke one-on-one with NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Campbell about how he took Clinton Coleman down.

Many are calling it an act of heroism, but Joshua Austin calls it a natural instinct that took over him in order to save the lives around him.

Austin was one of thousands enjoying the 4th of July firework display along Riverwalk. But as he was leaving, fun turned to fear as gun shots rang out.

“We were going up the stairs and all of a sudden you started hearing popping sounds and from my past experience with guns, I definitely knew it was gunfire,” said Austin.

As people were running away from the danger, Joshua ran toward it.

“The gunman that I tackled was about 30 feet in front of me. I did have a family in front of me. A lady to the left of me with her kids and when I say kids I mean small children,” said Austin.

As Austin retraces his steps days later, he says he really didn’t have time to think during the chaos.

“As soon as that gunman faced the other way, it was natural instinct to sprint after him and take him down,” said Austin.

Austin risked his life, tackling and disarming Coleman who was already shot in the face and leg, in order to save others.

“As I was coming, he was still firing in the other direction. So I mean, it was a very intense situation,” said Austin.

Austin says help from deputies couldn’t get to where he was soon enough.

“Oh God, it felt like 20 minutes sitting there. I mean in reality it was really like 2-3 minutes tops but it felt like forever,” said Austin.

Joshua’s girlfriend was right behind him as they were coming up the stairs.

“At first, I’m thinking, ‘Hide.’ I’m wondering where is he and then I see him dashing after him. I’ve never seen someone run that fast in my life,” said Tabitha Garland.

Now, she’s just thankful the scene wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

“It scares the crap out of you with all the shootings that have been going on. The mass’s every day now on the news.That’s what I’m thinking, it’s a mass shooter about to take out everybody,” said Garland.

“So, will you be back next fourth of july,” asked Ashley Campbell to Austin.

“Probably…I don’t think so,” said Austin.

Austin says he also wants to thank the second bystander, Brian Sikes, who shot at the second suspect, helping to scare him off so Austin could get to Coleman.

Richmond County investigators are still looking for that second suspect.

If you have any information, call the sheriff’s office at 706-821-1080.

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