Spencer Stroud is backing away from the hallowed H-word suddenly being thrust upon him.
“Everybody’s calling me a hero,” Stroud told WFAA-TV in Dallas. “I was just at the right place the right time, just doing what needed to be done.”
Surveillance video captured the terrifying moments when a police officer was rolling on the ground in front of a strip mall store, smoke billowing from her body as she attempted to extinguish flames after trying to restrain a burglary suspect who set himself on fire.
The video then captures Stroud rushing to her side, pulling off his shirt, and using it to douse the flames on Officer Ann McSwain’s body.
Stroud said he replays Wednesday’s horrible scene every time he closes his eyes.
“That’s all I saw was just me on top of her, beating her chest trying to get everything out,” he said.
Just after the incident, KTVT-TV interviewed Stroud and his friend, Robert Gonzales, who said the suspect ran out of the Wingstop “completely on fire. He looked like a human torch. He had no facial features.”
Officers were called to the shopping center after a call about a man who smelled of gas, WFAA reported. That story noted that Gonzales said he witnessed the incident unfold, saying McSwain arrived at the scene and ordered the suspect to put his hands up.
When the suspect didn’t listen, Gonzales said, McSwain — Cedar Hill officer of the year in 2013 — pulled out a stun gun .
“That’s when he starts threatening her,” he said.
Gonzales said the suspect was carrying a plastic bottle that appeared to hold some type of accelerant. According to the witness, the suspect then took off on foot into the Wingstop as two other officers arrived at the scene.
The man yelled out, “I’m going to set myself and the restaurant on fire,” witnesses said.
“Ten seconds into the Wingstop, you hear screaming,” Gonzales said. “That’s when the [suspect] left the Wingstop” with flames still on his body.
“As he’s running across the parking lot, you hear, ‘Boom! He hits the ground,” Stroud told KTVT.
Gonzales said he and Stroud tried to help McSwain. “Her chest plate saved her,” he told WFAA.
“Her head, her chest, her lower legs, her thighs and upper forearms were badly burned,” Stroud told KTVT.
The pair sat with McSwain until paramedics arrived.
“I just want to tell her thank you for fighting,” Stroud told WFAA of McSwain. “Thank you for not giving up on yourself or on us and just letting RJ and I help you.”
McSwain remains at Parkland Hospital with burns on 10 to 15 percent of her body.
The suspect was identified as 27-year-old Terrance Dunn, who is also at Parkland with extensive burns; his brother told WFAA his burns cover 65 percent of his body. He’s facing a $100,000 bond. Dunn was arrested June 14 for criminal trespassing and harassment and has previous convictions, WFAA reported.