AUSTIN (KXAN) — One year ago, a man on a horrifying mission fired hundreds of rounds in downtown Austin, taking aim at the Mexican Consulate, Federal Courthouse, and Austin Police Department headquarters.
No one was injured, but the 10-minute shootout cost gunman Larry McQuilliams his life. The rampage, put to an end by a single shot – fired by Sgt. Adam Johnson.
Thursday, KXAN sat down for the first time with the man hailed as a hero.
It took nearly a year to replace the windows shooter McQuilliams shattered at APD headquarters. The physical damage may be in the past, but Sgt. Johnson says the memories from that night have stayed with him every day since.
Sgt. Johnson’s bond with his assigned horse Baru, began a little more than a year ago.
“It’s my partner,” Sgt. Johnson told KXAN. “We’ve been through something… pretty major.”
Like people, certain experiences connect you for life.
“There’s not too many moments in the day when something about that night doesn’t – I don’t think about it,” Sgt. Johnson said.
It was in the early morning hours following Thanksgiving when the mounted patrol unit was packing it in for the night at APD.
“That’s when we all heard the automatic gunfire ring out,” Sgt. Johnson explained. McQuilliams had made his way to his third destination on his shooting rampage.
“The guy kept shooting. He went through 1 magazine, 2 magazines, 3 magazines,” Sgt. Johnson recalled. “On his 4th magazine, he had directed his fire towards us.”
He told KXAN in that moment, “My thought to myself was that’s – that’s enough.”
“I took the shot. And the guy went down.”
Sgt. Johnson fired the shot from 312 feet away, while holding the reins of two horses.
“There was definitely a higher power at work that night,” Sgt. Johnson said. “That’s what had to be done, right that minute, and it was gonna happen. Regardless of what I did, I mean – it was a pretty powerful moment in my life. The most profound moment in my life.”
At the time, police found a book titled “Vigilantes of Christendom” in the rental van McQuilliams used during the attacks, along with a map of 34 targets.
“We believe that our job IS to serve and protect, and I think when events like this happen it really puts an exclamation mark on our profession and why we’re here and serving our community,” Johnson said.