SOLON, Ohio- At first, it seemed just like a car crash.
Rob Steffens was on his way to get coffee early Saturday morning when he saw an overturned vehicle and a wrecked car at the intersection of Solon and Richmond roads.
“I saw a woman on the ground, and I ran to her to try and help,” Steffens told the FOX 8 I-Team. He said a few seconds later he looked up and saw 29-year-old Matthew Desha standing a few feet in front of him.
“I yelled out asking if he was OK,” Steffens recalled. “And then I saw what first looked like a third leg and quickly realized it was a weapon.”
Steffens said it was at that point he knew the woman he was tending to had been shot.
“At first I thought she had puncture wounds from the crash,” Steffens said. “I didn’t know if she could hear me, but I kept talking to her, telling her she wasn’t alone. Help was on the way and that everything would be OK.”
The Bedford man said he also knew he had to do something to make sure no one else would get hurt.
“I screamed at him to put the weapon down and he did, thank God,” Steffens said. “I also told him to get on the ground and put his arms out, and he listened.”
He said another witness came to the scene and stayed by Desha until police arrived.
Desha has been arrested on several charges. He pleaded not guilty.
Solon police said 53-year-old Debbie Pearl was shot multiple time. She died shortly after at a nearby hospital.
Her family and friends said Pearl was a loving mother and grandmother, who was always helping others.
“She was just so loving,” said her son, Timothy Pearl.
Her friends said they are grateful for those that stopped and tried to help.
“I hope they find some peace and that they know she wasn’t alone, that I was there,” Steffens said. “I wish I could have done more.”