Wildlife officer who slammed into shooters' van praised as hero

WEST MEMPHIS, AR (WMC-TV) - The wildlife officer who slammed his truck into the van of shooters suspected of gunning down two West Memphis Police officers is being called a hero.

Investigators are down speaking to wildlife officer Michael Neal, which is why he was able to finally speak freely about the deadly day in West Memphis last May.

Surveillance cameras were rolling at the West Memphis Walmart when Jerry and Joe Kane pulled into the parking lot not long after the two officers were shot and killed.

"The call came out that there was two officers shot," Neal said.

Neal pulled in just in time to see the suspects open fire on Crittenden County Sheriff Dick Busby and his deputy, Chief WA Wren.

"The driver has one leg out of the van with the door open, firing at the sheriff," Neal said.  "The passenger is hanging out of the passenger window of the van, firing at WA."

Neal then sprung into action.

"I had my assault rifle drawn on them at that point and I was going to the gunfight," Neal said.

Neal said there was no way the Kanes were going to get away.

"You've got to improvise and you've got to do what you've got to do in the heat of the moment," Neal said.  "I did make the decision at that point to ram the vehicle to disable it, otherwise we could have had mass casualties."

Seconds after the crash, bullets began flying into his truck.

"The young man was the one that was doing the shooting at me," Neal said.  "He was the one putting all the rounds in my vehicle."

Neal then fired back.

"I had 30 rounds in the magazine, and I unloaded the magazine," Neal said.

By then, the suspects were surrounded and the threat was over.

Since that day in May, Neal has gotten a lot of awards and accolades for his bravery.  He even got a new truck.

"I had an '06 Chevy and I got a 2010 out of it," Neal said.

Neal said he was now much more mindful of his surroundings.

"I believe my biggest problem is trusting people now," Neal said.  "I don't trust anybody.  I'm very heightened and aware of my surroundings.  Anything moves, I'm looking at it."

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