Alumni, Campus wide, College of Health Sciences

Athletic training alum hailed as local hero

By Jenna Johnson | May 13, 2021
CSU alum Marlin Brown receives a Civilian Achievement Award for his heroic actions during the Valentine's Day shooting at Northwoods Mall.
Marlin Brown receives a Civilian Achievement Award for his heroic actions during the Valentine’s Day shooting at Northwoods Mall. Photo provided

On Valentine’s Day this year, Marlin Brown ’08, ‘11 began his Sunday at church and followed it with lunch. He looked forward to spending the rest of the day with his girlfriend, but wanted to make a stop at Northwoods Mall in search of the perfect Valentine’s gift.

As he walked past JCPenney with his gift-finding mission in mind, he heard loud pops nearby. Balloons? he thought.

Marlin Brown received a Civilian Achievement Award for going above and beyond when a gunman left three people injured in the Valentine’s Day incident. Photo provided

“At first, I did not believe I heard gunshots. My mind did not allow me to think that,” Brown said. “When I saw people getting on the ground, running, and scattering around, I got on the ground and checked myself out to see if a bullet hit me.”

He then got up with the intent to find safety. On his way, he led frozen bystanders to a hiding spot close to an exit. 

Brown didn’t realize at the time that the gunman was in the store right behind him. His quick thinking and selfless actions were recognized by the North Charleston Police Department and Northwoods Mall last week. Both Brown and a business owner received a Civilian Achievement Award for going above and beyond when a gunman left three people injured in the Valentine’s Day incident.

The awards were presented near NCPD’s new kiosk in the mall—a measure taken to increase security.

The local hero shared advice for how to respond in a dangerous and scary situation.

Charleston Southern University alumnus Marlin Brown during his time as a student in the athletic training program. Photo provided

“Breathe, stay calm, and relax. It might be a hard thing to do when you are in a situation like that, but you don’t want to rush yourself because you won’t have a clear mind to make a good decision. Be on the lookout if you see someone in trouble in that type of situation. Help them get to safety or help them to stay alive. Everyone is worth saving,” Brown said.

He added that self-care is important after a traumatic event.

“Talk to someone about the situation. In the medical field, this is called debriefing. This helps you get your feelings and emotions out from a traumatic situation,” explained Brown. “Pray and give thanks to God. As much as I keep saying that I shouldn’t be there, God put me there for a reason.”

A Charleston Southern kinesiology (2008) and athletic training (2011) grad, Brown also credits his experience at his alma mater for his heroic actions.

“The preparation and awareness that I learned while studying athletic training at CSU helped me in this situation and also helped me become the person that I am,” he said.

Marlin Brown with baseball student-athletes at CSU. Photo provided

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