Ty Zerby is a 38-year-old father from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and one night in March 2017 he popped out of his family home to get some treats for the kids. However, he had no idea about what he was about to encounter that night.
Things started out normally enough. Zerby headed to the Meijer store close to his home, and once there, he grabbed some gummy bears along with a few other snacks. Then he went back out to the parking lot to find his car.
However, before he reached his car, something caught his attention: he heard a strange noise. And while it wasn’t immediately clear what the noise was, something told Zerby that he should investigate further.
In fact, it sounded like screaming – and Zerby realized that he was hearing a woman’s desperate cries for help. “I heard a lady yelling, screaming, like death-curdling screams,” he explained shortly afterwards to 24 Hour News 8.
The next thing Zerby knew, his natural instincts kicked in. He set off in search of the woman, who was clearly in serious trouble. However, when he located her, he couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing.
Right in front of the father’s eyes was a young woman being attacked by a man. “It looked like the guy was punching her. I didn’t realize what was going on,” Zerby told WOOD TV8.
As he got closer, though, it became apparent just how serious the incident was. The woman had been tied up with duct tape and been put in a car. The attacker also appeared to be hitting her, although the reality of what he was doing turned out to be even worse.
Zerby then fought with the attacker, desperately trying to get him off the victim. Meanwhile, the woman carried on screaming as the scuffle continued. Yet once Zerby understood what she was saying, he realized that the situation was even more grave than he had feared.
That’s because what she had been trying to tell Zerby was “He’s stabbing me.” However, as Zerby tried to fight off the attacker, he received a heavy blow to the face. The assailant had in fact hit him with a hammer and cracked his teeth.
The attacker then managed to wriggle free from Zerby’s grip and sprinted off down the road, and although the courageous dad set off in pursuit, the assailant proved too quick. “I realized I couldn’t catch him. This guy was so fast,” Zerby told WOOD TV8 afterwards.
Zerby quickly then turned his attention back to the victim, who was bleeding heavily. Realizing that he needed to stop the bleeding in her leg, he reached for his lanyard, and thankfully the quick-witted guy managed to make a tourniquet out of it.
He subsequently waited with the victim until paramedics arrived to take her to hospital – and he had done an amazing thing by stepping in to help her. “You know, somebody in need like that, you can’t just turn your back on them,” the brave father said as he recalled that fateful night.
Luckily, the woman’s injuries were not life-threatening, and she is expected to recover fully. The emotional trauma, however, is likely to last for a very long time. Zerby only had a brief encounter with the attacker but said, “It was a scary deal, just so scary, man.”
The hero added that he’d like to meet the victim one day, once she has recovered. And although it was a terrifying experience, he is adamant that he would do the same thing all over again, spurred on by the thought of his children.
“I’m trying to be a good dad and I just want my sons to be proud of me. I think that’s all it boiled down to,” Zerby said. He went on to state that on the night of the attack, he had felt God’s presence telling him that he could help the woman, and so he did.
“I’m pretty proud to be his son,” said nine-year-old Brennan Zerby. “My dad’s a very good hero; he could save lives.” And he quite possibly did save a life that evening.
But what about the alleged attacker? Well, five days later, during a police pursuit, he was shot in the stomach. Still, although Victor Gonzalez, 20, was initially thought to have suffered serious injuries, he survived. Gonzalez subsequently appeared in court a matter of days later.
Furthermore, if Gonzalez is eventually found guilty of attacking the woman in the Meijer parking lot, he will go to jail for the rest of his life. Zerby also told WOOD TV8 that he had a message for the attacker, and surprisingly, it wasn’t one of hate.
His words were these: “I pray you get the help you need [so] that maybe you could turn your life around and help somebody instead of hurt them.” Let’s hope the message gets through to whoever committed this terrible crime.
Zerby’s good deed should act as a lesson to us all. It’s so easy to turn a blind eye when confronted with frightening situations. But it’s reassuring to know there are people out there who are willing to put themselves at risk in order to help others in serious trouble.