California

Man dies tackling shooter so others can flee auto dealership, California police say

Brian Light, 59, tackled fired employee Steven Leet, 60, after Leet returned to a Morgan Hill, California, auto dealership and killed Xavier Souto, 38, police say. Leet killed LIght, whose actions gave others time to flee. A GoFundMe account has been established for the families of the two slain men.
Brian Light, 59, tackled fired employee Steven Leet, 60, after Leet returned to a Morgan Hill, California, auto dealership and killed Xavier Souto, 38, police say. Leet killed LIght, whose actions gave others time to flee. A GoFundMe account has been established for the families of the two slain men. Screengrab from GoFundMe

After a California dealership fired a 60-year-old parts department employee, nobody could understand why he didn’t leave, The Mercury News reported.

Contractor Doug MacGlashan said a baffled manager at the Morgan Hill Ford Store near San Jose, California, sought his advice Tuesday afternoon about former employee Steven Leet, KNTV reported.

“I just fired him, he won’t leave the premises. Should I be worried, what should we do?” MacGlashan said the supervisor asked him, according to the station.

After being fired, Leet sat in his vehicle outside for about 20 minutes, then returned to the dealership, where he spent about an hour hanging around his former workstation, the Morgan Hill Times reported.

About 6 p.m. managers Xavier Souto, 38, and Brian Light, 59, took Leet to a back office, where they spoke briefly to him, KTVU reported. Then Leet shot Souto point-blank with a .38 revolver, killing him.

“After the first shot and Xavier went down, Brian reacted and tackled the suspect down to the ground,” said Sgt. Bill Norman, The Mercury News reported.

Leet shot Light twice, killing him, as they fought over the pistol, KTVU reported.

The gunfire set off a mad scramble, with workers and customers fleeing the dealership or hiding under desks, The Mercury News reported.

“I ran into the parking lot and dove under a truck and hid there and called my son,” said customer Mary Denicore, according to the publication.

“It’s just scarier than hell,” MacGlashan said, KPIX reported. “I’m not used to hearing gunshots, I’m not used to being around this type of violence. So it’s just scary.”

Morgan Hill police say Light’s actions gave employees and customers time to escape, KRON reported.

“Brian’s actions are nothing short of heroic,” said Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing, KTVU reported. “Those actions allowed people to flee, allowed them the precious seconds they needed to flee after hearing the first shot.”

Donna Fleming, a former neighbor of Light’s, said his heroic actions Tuesday didn’t come as a surprise, KPIX reported.

“That would’ve been the kind of guy that Brian was, he would’ve done that,” Fleming said, according to the station. “A generous nice, caring, fun loving guy; couldn’t have asked for a better person.”

Sales manager Graham Gillis saw Leet emerge from the office after the fatal shootings, The Mercury News reported.

“He came walking out of the office with a gun in his hand, down by his side, heading out of the service area,” Gillis said, according to the publication.

Leet walked outside, sat on a curb and fatally shot himself in the head as police arrived, less than four minutes after the first reports of gunshots, The Morgan Hill Times reported.

Sherri Lebaudour-Ewing, who had been Leet’s neighbor for 15 years, described him as a quiet loner who lived by himself and never had visitors, KPIX reported.

“Steve used to complain about his job a lot because he got bullied,” Lebaudour-Ewing said, according to the station. “That’s all. I don’t know any of the details.”

Police found a dozen firearms at Leet’s home, and a second pistol on his body, but don’t believe he planned the dealership shootings before being fired, The Morgan Hill Times reported.

“He may have just carried weapons with him all the time,” Norman said, according to the publication.

Souto, who was engaged, had two children, KTVU reported. He’d worked at the dealership since 2012. Light, who had two sons, had come to the Morgan Hill dealership in 2018 and served as Souto’s mentor, according to the TV station.

A GoFundMe account has been established for both families. The page had collected nearly $27,000 toward a $500,000 goal by Thursday morning.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.
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