Jewish center shooting witness dodges bullets to help nab Cross - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Jewish center shooting eyewitness dodges bullets to help nab suspect

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It's difficult for Paul Temme to talk about what he saw and experienced on Sunday.

Temme came to the Jewish Community Center to work out. Little did he know he would soon be mired in a tragedy in which a grandfather and grandson were gunned down.

It all happened in a matter of moments. He first heard the unmistakable sound of gunshots.

"I looked across the parking lot and I saw the man shooting people in the car," Temme recalled.

That's when prosecutors say Glenn Frazier Cross Jr., 73, was firing his shotgun at the head of William Lewis Corporon, who had just pulled into the parking lot with his 14-year grandson who was trying out for a singing competition.

"The grandfather was already shot and on the ground. I saw him shooting the boy," Temme said.

He was one of many people whipping out their phones to call 911.

He saw a woman screaming, "He's shooting! He's shooting!" as she was fleeing.

But instead of running away, Temme moved toward the gunman.

"He approached his car, and he put the rifle in his trunk. Then he got in the driver's seat of his car. He drove away. I chased after him. When he pulled parallel to me, he was at the driver's window and driver's window was rolled down," Temme remembered.

At the very least, Temme wanted to get the license plate number so he could help police. That's when he locked eyes with Cross and the suspect turned to him.

"He had a handgun and he shot at me. I dove to the ground in an effort to avoid a gunshot. He drove off. After having shot at me once or twice, he drove off," Temme recounted.

The gunman also fired at one other person. Still Temme helped get key descriptions and Cross' direction of travel to give to the authorities.

Cross allegedly then went to Village Shalom where he shot and killed 53-year-old Terri LaManno who was visiting her mother at the assisted living center. Cross was then arrested at a nearby elementary school.

Now, his focus and thoughts are with the families of the victims and the JCC family as well. He is especially struck by the extraordinary strength of Mindy Corporon who lost her father and son in a matter of moments.

Temme is already back at work and trying to stay busy to keep his mind from what he saw and went through Sunday.

"It was quite clear to me when I saw what was going on, I guess I inferred rather quickly what the motivation for this might be."

As Temme learned more about the man police have charged with capital murder, he contemplates current gun laws.

"As I look at his history and his background I have to wonder why it is we have laws that allow people like this to get guns," he said.

As a convicted felon, Cross should not have had any weapons. He is alleged to have had a shotgun, handgun and possibly an assault rifle with him.

Temme said he was raised a Christian and his wife is Jewish. Regardless of religion, he said the JCC welcomes anyone with open arms.

"We have to suffer this and the people at the community center have to suffer this," he said. "This is a place that's open to everyone and this person came thinking he was killing Jews."

The three that were killed were all Christians.

Temme said he's been in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central America and seen synagogues and Jewish community centers that have fortress-like security.

"Is this what we have to do in the United States? This is a very serious crime that tears at the fabric of our community," he said.

He said he's thinking about the victims and their families, whose lives have been taken away or changed forever by these crimes of hate, much more than he reflects on his own ordeal.

"There were hundreds, if not thousands, of people in there and many of them children. To think what he would have done if he'd gotten in there," Temme contemplated.

Temme said he doesn't want any attention from this, even though police say he's a victim of the shootings as well as a witness to them.

"I would do it again because if it stops someone like that," Temme shrugged and stopped mid-sentence as he tried to make sense of the senseless. "It's the risk. I was motivated to see that either he was stopped or he was prosecuted."

KCTV5's DeAnn Smith contributed to this report.

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