How Eric Wasson became a hero

The Saint Paul police have honored Eric Wasson, the bouncer who stopped a man who walked into a bar with a gun last fall. Wasson, a former college football player, rushed the gunman and disarmed him without being shot, even though the gun went off twice (video).

The route that put Wasson in a position to save a few lives was uncovered in a Pioneer Press story today.

The short version: He grew up in Southern California, played college football, had strong family figures, wanted to be a mortician, but ended up selling drugs and going to prison.

“I was a drug dealer, gang member, college student, father, all those things at one time,” he said.

“I wasn’t oppressed, we wasn’t in the ghetto, none of the above. I went to school. It’s just that we make bad decisions sometimes. I had to learn to uplift myself, to do different, to do better.”

His brother was shot to death and it was his fault, he suggested. His brother wasn’t the type to sell drugs; but he followed his brother into the game, and died because of it.

Wasson has six kids and returned to Minnesota to be in their lives more. He’s about to start college to learn how to be a machinist.

Disarming a gunman was brave enough, but after he did so the bar patrons implored him to kill the gunman with his own gun. He wouldn’t do it, the Pioneer Press says.

“I came back to Minnesota to be a father, so I have to conduct myself a certain way,” Wasson said. “All you have with your children is what you lead by example. … I appreciate the award and everything, it’s cool, but I’d do it again if God blessed me with the opportunity to survive it.”