A Wisconsin mother is hailed a hero for rescuing her two young children after an attacker shot dead her husband and 11-year-old daughter, despite being shot three times.
Erin Stoffel managed to get her 7-year-old son Ezra and 5-year-old daughter Selah off a popular pedestrian bridge in Menasha, Wisconsin, after a gunman randomly opened fire.
Erin’s husband, 33-year-old Johnathon Stoffel, and eldest daughter, Olivia, were both killed after 27-year-old Sergio Valencia del Toro shot at them at random, following an argument with his former fiancee. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. Erin Stoffel (pictured) managed to get her two youngest children to safety after a gunman randomly opened fire on her family, killing her husband Johnathon (pictured) and their eldest daughter Olivia, 11
2. Johnathon Stoffel, 33, and his daughter Olivia, 11, were killed in the random attack on Sunday night.
Erin did this while she took three bullets. Dr. Ray Georgen, who operated on Erin Stoffel at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah, Wisconsin, said:
You can never underestimate the power of a mother to protect her children. To have three gunshot wounds and be able to get off that bridge and save two of her children is incredible to think about.
It’s an amazing story of heroism on her part and certainly of her children.
Unfortunately, the mother’s heroic actions could not save her daughter Olivia and husband Johnathon, who were both fatally shot, as was Adam Bentdahl, an unrelated man who also died.
3. Sergio Valencia del Toro, pictured with his former fiancee, Haylie, opened fire after the pair argued.
4. The couple, pictured here after their engagement, had called off their wedding just a week ago, police said.
According to the family, before he passed away, Johnathon Stoffel said:
Forgive the shooter.
Police are saying that, if it were not for Erin and Ezra Stoffel’s heroism, the death toll could have been higher. Menasha Police Chief Tim Styka said:
Despite being shot multiple times, Ms. Stoffel was able to … (instruct) her young son to go run for assistance. Absolutely amazing.
5. Erin Stoffel was shot three times, but is now recovering in hospital following surgery, her family said.
Barry Busby, the Winnebago County Coroner, also praised Stoffel for her actions. He said:
True heroes going into an act of fire, where they don’t know what’s out there on this unprotected bridge, but trying to save other people. And I think their fast response helped save a lot of people.
Dr. Georgen said that the early stages of Erin’s recovery are proceeding well. Her condition is listed as critical.
A GoFundMe page set up to help the family had already raised more than $110,000 by Tuesday afternoon.
6. Mother takes bullets to save two of her children; her husband and daughter are killed.
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