Man credits heroic police action as suspects hide in business

WICHITA, Kan. Eyewitness News hears from a man who says he owns the business where suspect Elijah Martinez exchanged gunfire with Wichita police Wednesday morning.

The man says he was working at his west Wichita business, near Central and Gilda, when theft suspects, Martinez and a woman, came in.

The man asked not to be identified but did want to share his story of how he was able to get out safely and about a police officer he says was a hero for confronting the suspect (Martinez) inside his business.

The business owner says he knew something was wrong after the female suspect walked into his business.

"I asked her what happened. She said somebody (was) chasing her," the man says.

He told the woman to go down to the end of a hallway inside his business. Soon after that, the male suspect, later identified as Martinez, walked in. He realized the two suspects knew each other and told them he was calling police.

"(Martinez) said, 'don't call police, I'll give you money,'" the man says. "I said, 'I don't need your money.'"

At that point, the man says he decided to get outside and call police, but officers had already arrived. He credits one officer's bravery for walking into his business, unaware of what could be waiting for him inside.

"...And then I start to hear, boom, boom, boom," the man says. "That's the gunfire starting in the building."

The business owner says he and another man ran to a neighboring business that let them come inside. He says gunfire was exchanged for several minutes and guessed he heard about 15 shots total.

"I'm very happy and lucky that the police (were) already here," the man says. "Otherwise, a guy with a gun... he can do anything."

The man says he is thankful for two things. First, that he was able to keep calm when he knew something was wrong.

"When I got away, I felt a little scared. But then I feel at peace because if you keep in the threatened or surreal moment, you won't keep calm and you'll maybe make the wrong choice."

Most importantly, he's thankful for an officer he calls a hero, the man who rushed into the business to confront the situation.

"(The officer) only asked me, 'where are they?'" He doesn't even know exactly what happened in there, but he just walked in," the man says. "He is very brave."

The business owner also wanted to say 'thank you' to the business next door who brought him in after he ran from his business. He says the man who ran with him was the homeowner who followed the suspects after he says they stole his mail.

Wednesday night, Martinez remains in a Wichita hospital where he's being treated for injuries sustained in the gunfire exchange with police. The Wichita Police Department says Martinez suffered a gunshot wound to his lower jaw.