LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) — Some are now calling a Jefferson County Public Schools teacher who survived the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, a hero.
Investigators confirmed Tuesday the shooting that left nine people dead was planned but still haven't released a motive.
Though the massacre happened nine days ago, WAVE 3 News found out a Louisville man was there because people in Dayton wanted to find him, to say thank you.
Richards said he doesn't consider himself a hero, but when he goes back to school Wednesday, he may be greeted as one.
"We just start hearing shots," Richards said. "Me and Cody just both kind of looked at each other like, 'Is this real?'"
Richards said he was in Dayton for Air Force Reserve training. He knew something was wrong when the music stopped, but the bullets didn’t.
A gunman killed nine people and wounded 17 others right outside the Ned Peppers bar he was in, just before he was about to leave.
"We weren't going to go out that night," Richards said. "If we would've went to the bar, closed out our tab and walked out the front door, we would have been right in the middle of it."
Instead, the gunman was just feet away, as Richards hid and protected a woman he was dancing with just seconds before. Her friends were right by her side.
"They tried to get up and run, and we were like, 'No, stay down,'" Richards said.
Richards noted just how close he was to the killer.
"If he gets through that door, easily, another 20 or 30 people die," Richards said.
The group he was with eventually got out of the bar and separated. Richards didn’t know much about who he had protected.
Then, days later, the notifications started. A father was looking for him on Facebook to thank him for helping his daughter in the face of terror.
"I knew her first name," Richards said. “She only knew my first name.”
Eventually, their networks converged and the two connected, traded thanks and checked up on how each was doing after the traumatic event.
“We had a faculty meeting this morning," he said. "I was sitting closer to the door than I normally do.”
Richards later recalled with friends, new and old, how less than a minute in Dayton, Ohio, changed his life forever.
“One of the things we talked about, we spent eight months in Iraq, had not a single thing happen, then, we come back and we’re living through it in Dayton,” Richards said.
WAVE 3 News reached out to those in Dayton who wanted to thank Richards.
They didn't want to go on camera, but, again, reinforced they were grateful for what he did.
Richards thanked police for stopping the shooter in less than a minute.