“Just really thankful,” Witnesses, police give details surrounding Lake Hefner shooting

OKLAHOMA CITY - Police are still trying to piece together why a gunman walked into a restaurant and started shooting.

The shooting happened Thursday at Louie's on the Lake in northwest Oklahoma City.

"We were sitting outside and we heard what sounded like firecrackers behind us," said Stephanie Griffioen.

A sea of red and blue flashing lights quickly filled the parking lot of the restaurant.

"They were really screaming, they were like, 'Stop, stop, stop, please put the gun down, please put the gun down,' and I was pointing at him, I was like, down, put it down, put it down, and they wound up exchanging fire," said witness Ron Benton.

Gunfire rang out at the restaurant as dozens of people started to run and hide.

Yellow crime scene tape streamed along cars and trees as family and friends looked on.

"It wasn't until we saw a girl run around the building, and she had blood on her arm and all chaos, it broke loose," said Griffioen.

Police said the gunman, 28 year old Alexander Tilghman, allegedly walked inside the restaurant and started shooting.

In all, officials say three people were shot.

Family members tell News 4 that Natalie Will, and her daughter, 12-year-old Syniah Giles, were shot as they were walking inside the restaurant. Family members say Will was grazed by a bullet and did not require surgery. Syniah was shot near the tailbone area and she spent a couple of hours undergoing surgery.

Officials later determined another young girl, Alex Speegle, was also hit by the gunfire.

Speegle will have surgery according to her aunt, Leah Geurin. She says she has a shattered collarbone from a bullet and another one when into her right arm. Geurin says she will need metal plates and there is nerve damage to her right-hand which surgeons are hoping can be fixed so she regains use of it.

"But it was the most panicked moment I've ever felt in my life, like, not knowing what's happening and my son was screaming. I was holding him on my chest and saying, please be quiet, please be quiet," said Griffioen.

Many people were running to survive.

Investigators say Tilghman was shot outside the restaurant by two civilians, identified as 35-year-old Juan Carlos Nazario and 39-year-old Bryan Whittle.

They told the gunman several times to drop his gun.

Allegedly, Tilghman didn't put down his weapon and he was shot and killed.

"You can call them heroes, which is a very good thing to say, but I think they stopped an incident that was very tragic. We had no idea what was going to happen after he left the Louie's restaurant. They're two people that stopped a very tragic situation from going any further," said Captain Bo Mathews with the Oklahoma City Police Department.

"I woke up this morning realizing what could have happened and just really thankful that we don't have to wake up to a mass tragedy of people dying. And I'm so grateful there was an armed citizen there to take this guy out and protect us," said Griffioen.

Nazario told News 4, he "just did what [he] was trained to do to neutralize the situation." And went on to say, "I was just there enjoying the lake scenery and heard shots and at that point, I zoned out and had to take action. Just glad no innocent bystanders' lives were taken and unfortunately a life was lost, but he had a choice to drop the weapon and chose otherwise."

When asked if he was at the right place at the right time, he said, "agreed, it was definitely a calling."

The shooting is still under investigation.

Police said it was random event and they don't know what was the motive of the suspect.