Mother Praised For Saving Her Children During Wisconsin Shooting

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Erin and Jonathan Stoffel.Erin and Jonathan Stoffel.

Sergio Daniel Valencia del Toro, 27, reportedly shot four people at close range on the Trestle Trail bridge in Menasha, Wisconsin, before turning the gun on himself on May 3.

Jonathan Stoffel, 33, and his 11-year-old daughter Olivia Stoffel were killed in the shooting and his wife, Erin Stoffel is in critical conditional at Theda Clark Medical Center. Adam Bentdahl, 31, was also killed.

Despite the fatalities, police said there was no shortage of heroism at the scene. Erin took three bullets protecting her 7-year-old son, Ezra, and 5-year-old daughter, Selah, by getting them off the bridge. 

"You can never underestimate the power of a mother to protect her children. To have three gunshot wounds and be able to get off that bridge and save two of her children is incredible to think about," Dr. Ray Georgen said at the hospital on May 4. "It's an amazing story of heroism on her part and certainly of her children.”

Menasha police Chief Tim Styka praised Erin’s actions."Despite being shot multiple times, Ms. Stoffel was able to ... (instruct) her young son to go run for assistance,” he said. "Absolutely amazing.”

Barry Busby, Winnebago County coroner, also sung her praises. "True heroes going into an act of fire, where they don't know what's out there on this unprotected bridge, but trying to save other people," Busby said. "And I think their fast response helped save a lot of people.”

Valencia del Toro and his fiancee apparently called off their wedding last week and it’s unclear if he was suffering from mental health issues. He’d served in the U.S. Air Force and recently enlisted in the U.S. Army, in addition to studying criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Sources: USA Today, CNN

Image via USA Today