Former Marine, future Marine help avoid tragedy in Christianburg

Former Marine, future Marine help avoid tragedy in Christianburg

Poolee Joshua Noakes, stands next to his recruiter, SSgt Trevor Jennings, at Permanent Contact Station Christiansburg, inside the New River Valley Mall after being honored for his part in aiding victims of the shooting at New River Community College. Noakes helped students and faculty to a safe area and treated some for symptoms of shock, while remaining calm, cool and collected during a very traumatic event. Noakes is scheduled to depart for recruit training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., May 20.

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (May 10, 2013) - April 12 seemed like any other morning at the New River Valley Mall for Joshua Noakes, a mall security guard and Marine poolee, on patrol outside of the mall.

For former Marine James Gorman, the mall's security director, it was his 33rd wedding anniversary and his day off. But for those that know Gorman, convincing his wife to stop by his place of business to drop off something for his coworkers was not unusual.

For the students of New River Community College's New River Valley Mall campus, it was another day of classes, working toward a degree.

"Not much goes on around here," said Noakes, a 23-year-old native of Great Britain. "We get a few shoplifters now and then, but not much else."

That changed when several shots rang out in the college's lobby.

Noakes did not realize what was going on at first. He pulled his vehicle around a corner and saw a mass exodus of students from the school before the call came over his radio.

Keeping his calm, he helped the students and faculty to safety, and helped treat several people with shock, but called the situation, "pretty crazy."

Gorman was closer to the action, coming face-to-face with the Neil MacInnis, who was armed with a shotgun.

Alone, unarmed and unafraid, Gorman's instincts took over, and he took control of the situation, but not before MacInnis managed to injure two people.

"I didn't have a weapon, I was in civilian clothes. I had a T-shirt and a pair of jeans on and a ball cap. I was just hollering at him," Gorman said in an interview with local CBS News affiliate WBDJ 7. "I just yelled 'Put down the weapon.' And he started replying, then I yelled 'Get down.' And he got down. I was right there on top of him, it was good to go."

Gorman held MacInnis down until the police arrived only moments later. Nine spent shotgun shells were found inside the college, according to news reports.

Unfortunately, this is an area not unfamiliar with tragedy. Not too far away, the infamous Virginia Tech shooting claimed the lives of 32 people on April 16, 2007. Thankfully, not one person died at the New River Valley Mall that day, undoubtedly thanks to the quick reaction of everyone involved.

For Noakes, who moved from England to Virginia when he was 15 years old, the event solidified his decision to join the Marine Corps.

"I saw that life is precious on that day," said Noakes. "I learned that this stuff is going to happen, and we have to deal with it. It's sad, but it's a reminder that we have to keep moving in our lives.

"I saw the Marine Corps commercials on TV, and going to college didn't really work out for me. The idea of the physical and mental challenge the Marine Corps offers is what really grabbed me."

Gorman and Noakes were honored during an event at the New River Valley Mall, May 10, along with the police officers, paramedics and firemen who responded to the scene.

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