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Local Navy seaman uses military training to aid gunshot victim

Old Miakka native Ty Knight was presented with the USO Sailor of the Year award in Washington, D.C.

Ty Knight
Ty Knight
Courtesy photo
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On the afternoon of Aug. 18, 2022, Navy Seaman Ty Knight had little idea he was about to help save a life. Yet when the moment came, it felt like instinct for him to leap into action.

“I felt an adrenaline rush. I just pumped up,” Knight said.

A native of Old Miakka and a Navy petty officer third class pursuing a master’s degree in information systems from the University of Maryland, Knight was honored with the Sailor of the Year award at the United Service Organizations Service Member of the Year awards on March 23.

Seaman Ty Knight, comedian Drew Carey and singer-songwriter Lee Greenwood at the awards dinner.

Hosted at The Anthem auditorium in Washington, D.C., the awards dinner was the 41st annual occurrence of the event, which hosts government and military leaders, members of Congress and community leaders.

“At first, I was kind of shocked by it,” Knight said. “At first, you don’t think you really earned it or deserved it because you just did what you were trained to do.”

Knight said he came to realize that using that training in service of the larger community, outside the scope of his military duties, was something that needed to be recognized.

The incident began as Knight was exiting an eye care store, with a new pair of glasses, just a few minutes away from Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia, where he is based. When he heard an unexpected sound, his first thought was of fireworks being set off.

As the bangs sounded across the parking lot, he began to realize what it actually was — gunfire — coming from an intersection about 200 feet away.

He quickly took cover inside his car. He looked through the back window and saw the shooter drive away. Then Knight exited the vehicle. At that moment, he saw a senior member of the Navy standing outside a Chipotle next to the eye care office.

“All of a sudden, he looked at me with — I call it military glare — like, you’re going to go help?” Knight said.

The two men ran to the scene, arriving there 40-60 seconds after the shooting.

“It wasn’t hard for me to go from watching to helping,” he said. “If somebody’s in need of help and I’m able to do something, why not do something? I’m not the person to just stand by and watch.”

When Knight reached the scene, he felt a moment of shock. There was a pileup of three cars in the intersection, as a wounded driver had lost control of a car. A scream coming from a young child in one of the cars jolted Knight back to clarity.

The senior service member checked the driver’s pulse while Knight looked for signs of breathing, but it was too late. The driver had died.

At that point, a third service member ran to the scene, informing them that a passenger from the car had fled to a bookstore. After Knight and that service member sprinted to the store, they found the victim lying on a couch inside the front door.

The 17-year-old had gunshot wounds in his lower left arm below the elbow and in his upper abdomen below the ribs. They applied a tourniquet to the arm and pressure to the abdominal wound. They talked to the victim and asked him about the incident to prevent him from going into shock.

Knight remained at the scene until EMTs arrived. He later saw on the local TV news that the individual, whom he said was initially reported to be in critical condition, had survived.

On March 23, as Knight took the stage at The Anthem auditorium in Washington, D.C., he believed his fiancee, Kathryn Hill, could tell how nervous he felt on stage.

“My heart was pumping so hard,” he said.

Ty Knight

He was being introduced to the crowd by Admiral Lisa Franchetti, vice chief of naval operations.

The trip was transformative for him in that it showed him the true value of his training.

“I’ve learned that all of the training I go through every day means something,” he said. “When you learn something, you think you’re never going to use it sometimes. That’s how it feels. It’s definitely helpful for me, to see why it’s useful.”

Knight said he will take the experience with him as he moves forward. Currently responsible for cryptologic technician collections, after he obtains his master’s degree in information systems, he plans to apply for Officer Candidate School and then be stationed in Tampa one day.

But wherever his career takes him, he will always have a new understanding he can offer.

“It’s very cool to me to be able to say, ‘Trust me, this is useful stuff. You may have to use this one day, whether it be at work, or out in public.’”



Ian Swaby

Ian Swaby is the Sarasota neighbors writer for the Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands.

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