John Lally was on his third gravel delivery of the day Saturday morning when he saw flashing police lights in the rearview mirror of his pickup truck and immediately thought he was being arrested.
Lally, who had his own run-ins with law enforcement over the years, slowly pulled over onto the shoulder of U.S. Highway 59.
But it wasn’t Lally’s police she was looking for.
The police had identified a stolen car and attempted to carry out a traffic stop. But their relentless 19-year-old suspect fled – at full speed – on a busy Houston thoroughfare.
Then, “out of nowhere…it sounded like an explosion,” Lally told CNN. “I saw a car overturn. I saw a tire in the air.
The suspect had crashed into other cars — six or seven, Lally said — disabling the stolen car and stopping traffic on the main lanes of the highway, police later said.
After watching it all unfold from his truck, Lally thought he had seen it all.
The delivery driver was only five minutes from his destination, he said. But he knew that, with traffic blocked, he wouldn’t make it in time.
So, to prove to his boss why he would be late, he began recording the aftermath of the accident on his cell phone – and got out of his truck.
Houston Police Officer Jonathan Gibson also got out of his vehicle at the scene of the collision. He shouted commands at the suspect, police said.
But the teenager didn’t listen.
Instead, the suspect fired a gun, police said.
Lally heard gunshots, he recalled, and knew: This had become more than a police chase.
He crawled around his truck and headed toward the back. That’s when he saw it:
Gibson — who never fired his own gun — was shot in the leg, police said.
Lally — who had already been shot in the leg — knew exactly what Gibson was going through at that point, he said.
And even though he had often found himself on the opposite side of confrontations with police, the delivery driver knew he had to act.
“In my mind,” Lally said, “I was just on a mission to go get him.”
The suspect was not subdued. Still, Lally moved toward the injured 29-year-old police officer.
“When I got to him, I just grabbed him by his vest, and me and another cop just dragged him into the back of my truck.”
All the while, Lally’s cell phone continued to record.
“You are doing well, brother. Everything is fine,” Lally told Gibson, the footage shows.
As more police patrols arrived, the suspect left the stolen car and attempted to get into another vehicle, police said.
Lally just continued to try to calm Gibson down, cell phone video shows.
Another officer ordered the suspect to drop his weapon, according to police and the video.
But once again, the suspect didn’t listen.
Blocking it all out, Lally reassured Gibson — the father of a 20-month-old, he learned — that he had no plans to leave him.
“Hold my hand. Everything will be okay. Hold my hand,” Lally assured Gibson over and over again for nearly 10 minutes.
Gibson grimaced and groaned as Lally continued to speak, cellphone video shows.
“I’m still here with you buddy, can you hear me?” Lally reminded the officer of this several times.
“I know it hurts, man. Just keep squeezing my arm.
Then Lally got personal.
“I’ve been to jail twice, man,” the delivery driver said. “I went to a state prison once. Last time I was locked up, they gave me 25 years, man.
“I had no choice but to go out and change my life…and I’m here with you, like it’s my calling to be here with you today.”
As the suspect got out of a second car, the officers fired their weapons at him, police said. He ran towards another car but appeared injured and fell to the ground.
Still ignoring officers’ commands, the suspect loaded another magazine into his firearm, police said.
The officers shot him again, this time multiple times, police said. He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead.
Gibson, police said, was also rushed to the hospital.
The officer, his department said, was in stable condition Monday and is expected to make a full recovery.
On Tuesday, Houston police spokeswoman Jodi Silva told CNN he was returning home.
The shooting is being investigated by the Houston Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit, Internal Affairs Division and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, the department said.
Lally’s actions are worth celebrating, the Houston police chief said at a news conference, while acknowledging alleged crimes and convictions in his past.
“People make mistakes,” Troy Finner said of Lally. “But a truly reformed individual is someone we can use. And he stepped up, and so did other citizens, and I don’t want that to go to waste.”
Lally, for his part, never thought twice about it, saying, “It has nothing to do with them being a cop.” I don’t have to like you…I just know he got shot and he’s going through this.
Ultimately, the delivery driver said, he was simply “in the right place at the right time.”
CNN’s Amy Simonson and Caroll Alvarado contributed to this story.