DENVER (KDVR) — On Sept. 18, Nolan Smith was working his job as a patrol sergeant for a local security company when he came up to a situation where he said he knew he needed to help.
“I pull up about to go onto site and I hear some pops and a loud car crash,” Smith, a former EMS and military medicine member, said.
Smith shared his story of that night exclusively with FOX31. He said he was in the process of training a new employee when they found a crashed car. He got out of his patrol car to see if anyone needed help.
“I saw him walk up, I asked if everyone was OK and then he goes ‘pop’ and shoots me,” Smith said.
Denver Police confirmed that night two people were shot in what police believe to be a random shooting in the City Park West neighborhood. One was a rideshare driver who was killed.
The shooting led to a crash that injured the passenger in the rideshare driver’s back seat.
Smith said he was approached by the suspect, now identified as 22-year-old Michael Gawain Jackson, who Smith said shot him once in the abdomen.
“I was trying to see if I had five or 10 minutes left to live,” Smith said. “I was trying to figure out if I was out of the fight.”
Smith said from there, Jackson went and threatened the employee Smith was training. The trainee fled and Jackson went back to Smith demanding his gun.
“He came back over, put a gun to my head and said, ‘Give me your gun,'” Smith said. “So I gave it to him.”
Jackson then drove off in Smith’s patrol vehicle, which was equipped with a GPS tracker that allowed Denver police to track it down and Jackson with it.
Jackson is being held for investigation of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and felony menacing charges.
“It’s something I hope I never have to go through again,” Smith said. “I know I’m not afraid but it was a crazy experience.”
Smith said once he realized he wasn’t shot in a vital area he called for help and rushed to the crashed vehicle to check on the people inside.
“I flagged him down (the police officer) and told him, ‘I have been shot,'” Smith said. “There was a victim in the car and we knew he wasn’t going to survive.”
DPD confirmed the 51-year-old driver was shot multiple times on the left side and subsequently crashed into a tree. DPD said the passenger in the back seat was not shot but sustained a minor injury in the crash. She was in the car when the driver was shot, but she is blind and did not see what happened.
“At that time, because of the airbags deployed, we didn’t realize there was a back seat passenger,” Smith said.
The passenger rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital, Smith said.
“What is surprising to me is how clear everything was,” Smith said. “I never lost consciousness.”
Smith still has the bullet inside his body. He said it missed his kidney by half of an inch.
“The bullet went around my pelvic wing and it is in a place they recommend to not pull it out unless it causes further issues,” Smith said.
He has had to take off work the past few weeks to heal from the shooting. He explained to FOX31 on Sunday that his company’s worker’s compensation has denied his claim and won’t pay for the medical bills or for the three weeks of wages.
FOX31 has reached out to the insurance company to learn why his claim was denied. We have yet to hear back.
He has started a GoFundMe to help cover those bills, if you’d like to help you can donate here.
Formerly in the military, Smith is also the Denver area coordinator for a veteran mental health nonprofit group. He said he has really relied on this group following the shooting and if you’d like to help their group you can reach out to the email Denver@irreverentwarriors.com to donate.
Denver police said the shooting appears to be random as there is no known connection between the suspect and the victims at this time.