Reluctant hero with haunting past - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Reluctant hero with haunting past

by Jeff Ferrell

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - In a KSLA News 12 follow-up report, we turn our attention back to a reluctant hero who wanted no credit and especially no attention.  But after helping rescue a 2-year old girl from a crushed house during a storm in Shreveport last weekend, he's gotten both.

"Crack, crack, crack.  And I dove and that's where you see my body print," an animated Chris Gates described, re-enacting the moment that remnants of Hurricane Ike toppled a giant tree.  It crushed the house next door to him in the 14-hundred block of Cornwell Avenue in Shreveport's Highland neighborhood.

That led Gates to rescue the little two year old girl, Naomi Johnson and her mother Becky.  The fallen tree had trapped them both inside the house, leading Gates to kick-out the door window.  Now five days later, Gates lifted up his pant leg and showed us the stiched-up scar, still badly bruised in a mixed hue of blue and black.  "They pulled out a piece or chunk of glass two centimeters long," pointed Gates.

The reality of the news business these days is that the so-called 'news cycle' is very quick.  Such stories of heroism come and go in the blink of an eye.  But, when we got a phone call from an editor with Reader's Digest, we decided to take another look at this story.

But, when we returned to tell Gates that Reader's Digest wanted to talk with him, he revealed why he doesn't want his face shown.  Years ago, Gates said he became a police informant in a big drug case:

REPORTER:  "Did you testify against somebody?"
GATES:  "No, I didn't have to testify that was the whole point.  I flat was able to go, 'that was him, that's him, that's the other one.'"

Gates told us how death threats forced him to leave town for well over a decade and change his name before daring to return home.  Even now, he admits looking over his shoulder, perhaps too much.  He fears all this publicity will force him to move once again explaining, "I'll help any of my fellow man I can.  But if it puts me out there to where everybody can go, 'that's him!' you ain't gonna see me the next day."

Neighbor Nic Tate offered, "a guy with a record just breaking into somebody's house and saving them, that's pretty heroic to me no matter who it is."  Now, this reluctant hero with his haunting past hopes that past doesn't catch up with him.
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