Marcus Collins was working through a Fat Tire Amber Ale with his girlfriend at the Turtle Lounge in Metairie when Edward Schlumbrecht burst in just before midnight Friday with a small arsenal and a big chip on his shoulder.
It was a lucky thing that Collins was there. After spending two hours as a hostage with perhaps eight or 10 other customers, the self-described comic book nerd went from Clark Kent to Superman, stripping Schlumbrecht of his AK-47 and a semi-automatic handgun in one swift motion.
“I’m just a regular guy,” said Collins, 43, of Metairie. “I have no idea where that came from.”
Now the home restoration contractor, who had just sat down at his neighborhood watering hole, is being hailed as the man who may have helped prevent untold bloodshed.
Had Collins not been present, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato said, “Who knows what would have happened?”
The Sheriff’s Office believes that Schlumbrecht, 52, got into an argument with a neighbor who was at the bar at 8001 Karen St. earlier that night. Schlumbrecht then left the bar, apparently to retrieve an AK-47, a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun and a .38-caliber Derringer from his nearby home on Kathy Street.
When Schlumbrecht arrived back at the bar, Collins said, he had his finger on the AK-47’s trigger.
“The first reaction of me and everyone else was, ‘Is this really happening?’ ” Collins said Monday. “ ‘Is this guy really doing this? Is that a real gun?’ ”
Unfortunately, authorities say, Schlumbrecht was indeed serious. Some patrons slipped out the bar’s front door; others fled into the backyard. Collins said he and another man tried to push the bar’s back door shut to keep Schlumbrecht from following them.
But Schlumbrecht fired several shots through the door in their direction, Collins said. Luckily, Collins was only bracing it closed with his foot.
“If I was holding it with my body against the door,” he said, “I definitely would have died.”
A number of customers had been able to jump over the backyard’s wooden fence. A group of others, including Collins and his girlfriend, did not make it over in time.
Thus began the tense, nearly two-hour hostage ordeal. As deputies established a perimeter and the JPSO’s SWAT team arrived outside, the group trapped inside the fence waited and worried.
“He kept telling everybody he was going to kill everybody, he was going to shoot them. People were just beside themselves,” Collins said. “He was there to take people down.”
Throughout the two hours, he said, his mind kept flashing back to his 10-year-old daughter.
“I was really honestly worried that she would not grow up knowing Jesus,” he said. “What’s going to happen if I go down today and she grows up hating God?”
Collins said he convinced Schlumbrecht to let him bring some beers and water from inside the bar to calm down his fellow hostages. He used the opportunity to slip some fruit knives in among the Coors and Bud Lights.
“This is my type of guy,” Justin Hungerman, 31, thought to himself when Collins passed him one of the knives. “We were thinking exactly the same thing.”
Now armed, they waited for an opportunity to act, hoping that Schlumbrecht would take his hand off the AK-47’s trigger.
In the meantime, Schlumbrecht asked authorities over the phone to release his son from prison. He was growing increasingly irate and seemingly unstable.
Finally, Collins said, he saw his opening.
Schlumbrecht, who was back inside the bar, had placed the handgun on the floor and seemed momentarily distracted. Collins jumped on him, grabbing the assault rifle and at the same time kicking the handgun away. Then he forced Schlumbrecht onto the ground and pinned him with the rifle.
Hungerman and another man rushed in to help.
Seconds later, Fortunato said, a woman ran out of the bar screaming, “They got him, they got him.”
Deputies briefly handcuffed Collins afterward before they sorted out the perpetrator from the hostages.
As the adrenaline rush subsided, Collins finally broke down and wept.
JPSO crime scene technicians found three spent pistol cartridges and one spent rifle cartridge at the scene, Fortunato said.
Schlumbrecht was booked on 18 counts of attempted murder, 18 counts of false imprisonment, 18 counts of aggravated assault, one count of illegal discharge of a weapon and one count of possession of a firearm in an alcoholic beverage outlet. No one was seriously injured.
Had Collins not acted, Hungerman said, Schlumbrecht “probably would have killed a couple people.”
The two did not know each other before, Hungerman said, “but he’s family now.”
Collins, meanwhile, is trying to get back to his ordinary life amid a torrent of congratulatory text messages and social media posts.
His ordeal at the Turtle Lounge, he said, has given him a new appreciation for the risks that police face every day — dangers underscored by the shooting Sunday of State Trooper Steven Vincent, who died Monday.
“I don’t see myself as a superhero, or a hero, or anything like that,” said Collins. Police “are the ones who do this every single night.”