Two men kept others from getting hurt on Wednesday as a gunman went on a rampage in Southeast D.C., shooting people seemingly at random after altercations on a public bus and at the Potomac Avenue Metro station.
One of those heroes did not get to go home to his family. Robert Cunningham, a mechanic for Metro, was shot and killed. He was 64.
On Wednesday night, a Metro Transit Police vehicle was stationed outside the Montgomery County, Maryland, home where Cunningham was raised as the son of a D.C. police officer.
Longtime neighbors said they are devastated by the news of his death, but not surprised to hear that he died trying to save the lives of others.
We're making it easier for you to find stories that matter with our new newsletter — The 4Front. Sign up here and get news that is important for you to your inbox.
"I mean, I see that man come and go everyday to work. Everyday he pulls in with a truck. And to think that he left today and he didn't come back, that he was doing something for another human being," Mary Whelan said. "He was helping people. He didn't have to do that."
"He looked out for his family, and he looked out for the neighborhood," Eleanor Adcock said. "Obviously, he looked out for strangers, too."
Metro's General Manager Randy Clarke described Cunningham as a “really heroic individual." He said it is a really sad day for the company, and they will be lowering their flags to half-staff.
Timour Skrynnikov, a D.C. government worker, was commuting to Metro Center as his train pulled into the Potomac Avenue station. He heard the tumult, the shooting and saw Cunningham’s body on the platform.
Then, Skrynnikov said he watched in horror as a man entered the train, held a gun to one woman’s head, then grabbed another and began dragging her through the train at gunpoint.
"When I looked again, I saw that he was carrying a gun," he said. "He said, 'I already shot two people, and I'm going to shoot more.'"
Skrynnikov, who describes himself as “not a real tall guy,” said he simultaneously prayed to God and made his move.
"I just lunged at him, and he just dropped," he said. "There was a divine, not intervention, but you know, I think God helped me at that point, because once I jumped that guy, I mean, he just went straight down. And the lady was not hurt."
Skrynnikov called Cunningham the true hero, and extended his condolences to his family.
Authorities identified the suspect as 31-year-old Isaiah Trotman, of Southeast. He faces charges of first-degree murder while armed, kidnapping while armed and assault with a dangerous weapon (gun).
"Our officers were there within minutes of getting the call for service. But due to the heroic actions of our citizens, of our community, to disarm this shooter – I can’t put a price on that. I think they saved lives. That’s to be commended. But the fact that our citizens have to intervene with armed gunmen is disturbing to me," MPD Executive Assistant Chief of Police Ashan Benedict said.