Wednesday, Sept. 15, 1999 | 3:25 a.m.
ASSOCIATED PRESS BUSINESS WIRE
LAS VEGAS --Soldier of Fortune magazine will open its 20th annual convention and expo in Las Vegas Sept. 22-26 by presenting its 1999 Humanitarian Award to Joel Myrick, a high school principal who stopped the 1997 school shooting massacre in Pearl, Miss.
Myrick, 38, was a vice principal at Pearl High School in Pearl, Miss., when 16-year-old Luke Woodham came to school Oct. 1, 1997 with a deer rifle and opened fire, injuring seven and killing two students.
Myrick, commander of the 631st field artillery brigade of the Mississippi Army National Guard, ran to his truck after hearing the gunshots, grabbed his Colt .45 pistol, chased and eventually confronted Woodham as he fled by car. Myrick held the teen at gunpoint until police arrived, asking Woodham, "Why are you shooting my kids?"
"The moment I put a gun to his head, this vicious killer was suddenly just a kid again," Myrick said.
Soldier of Fortune publisher Robert K. Brown said Myrick's action saved countless lives. Woodham, whose pockets were full of ammunition, started his day by murdering his 50-year-old mother. Many witnesses believe Woodham was on his way to shoot up nearby Pearl Junior High School when Myrick stopped him.
Today, Joel Myrick is principal of Corinth High School, in Corinth, Miss. Without him, Brown said, the Pearl shooting may have claimed more lives than the Columbine High School shooting last spring in Littleton, Colo.
"Myrick risked his life so others would live," Brown said. "His story highlights the need for all responsible adults to protect and maintain their rights to be armed against forces of evil and destruction. For his actions and bravery, Soldier of Fortune proudly honors Joel Myrick as the second recipient of the annual Soldier of Fortune Humanitarian Award, given exclusively to those whose actions have saved lives."
Brown will present the award to Myrick Sept. 24 at Cashman Field Center, where thousands of conventioneers and adventure-seekers are expected. The five-day event features a three-gun tactical match, firepower demonstration, military equipment displays, seminars and events -- from simulated knife fights to water survival training. An awards banquet and auction follow on Sept. 25.
The expo is open to the public Sept. 24-26. Admission is $8 per day, or $20 for a three-day pass. Tickets are available at Cashman Field in downtown Las Vegas. For more information, call 303/449-3750 or visit www.sofmag.com.