Lansford police officer Chris Ondrus wants people to know he went willingly with his friend and fellow patrolman David Midas on Friday night.
Midas drove Ondrus from Lansford to Jim Thorpe, where Midas committed suicide.
Reports that he was taken hostage by Midas, his friend since childhood, may be technically accurate, "but I didn't look at it that way," Ondrus said in a telephone interview early Tuesday.
"He wanted to talk. He did have his gun out. But either way, I would have gotten into the car with him and talked to him," Ondrus said. "He wanted to talk, and I think that pulling the gun was because he was scared.
"I wasn't scared of him. I wanted to be there with my friend, and I was there, until the last second. I tried to do what I could. Words can't really describe ... he needed somebody to talk to."
Ondrus said he had opportunities to get out of the car and run away, "but it never crossed my mind. He told me, don't worry Chris. You're going to be OK."
His voice breaks as he talks about his buddy.
"He was one of a kind," Ondrus said. "He was one of my best friends. He has a special place in my life and heart."
The tragedy unfolded Friday evening. Midas, who was a lieutenant deputy in the Carbon County Sheriff's department and a part-time patrolman in Lansford and Summit Hill, took a patrol car from the Lansford station before stopping at Ondrus' home in Lansford.
As Midas drove, the two old friends talked.
"I couldn't make heads or tales of it. I tried to get him to focus. We talked about a lot of things I don't want to go into detail. I kept telling him I will be there for him."
Ondrus urged Midas to think of his friends and family, his kids and his wife.
"I tried to get him to go back to his parents' house to talk," he said. "The farther we were from town, the more I worried. Everyone was going to his parents' house."
Midas apparently did share his troubles with some people.
"He was having problems that were bothering him. He didn't discuss them with everybody. He opened up differently to different people, and he bottled a lot of stuff up," Ondrus said.
He would not reveal details of their conversation.
"He was reaching out to me, and I was reaching out to him," he said.
Ondrus has experienced the deaths of people through suicide, "but this is the closest I've been to something like this. It's a terrible situation. There's nothing that happens in this world that can't be worked out."
On Sunday, Ondrus and his mother visited Midas' widow, Julie, and their two little boys.
"Dave's wife and kids are hanging in there. Gunnar is 3. He's asking where his Daddy is," Ondrus said.
Ondrus is the godfather of the Midas' youngest son, Hodge, who is about a year old. Julie Midas is expecting a third child, also a boy, in December.
"The kids have a long road ahead of them. The love and support that's been out there in the community really helps," Ondrus said.
Ondrus and Midas have been friends since childhood, when they played T-ball together. Midas was president of American Fire Co. No. 1 in Lansford when Ondrus joined.
They were hired as police officers on the same day in 2002; they shared a cubicle, and worked the same shifts whenever they got a chance.
Ondrus reminisced about their friendship.
"Dave was spontaneous with so much stuff. He had dreams of becoming the next sheriff he worked on that for years. One day he said in front of friends that I would be his campaign manager," Ondrus said.
One day, as Ondrus was standing on a ladder working on his house, Midas told him he would be Hodge's godfather.
"Dave was known by young and old, all over the county. He had a connection with the kids, through the DARE program, and through programs at the (Panther Valley Public) Library and the (Lansford) townhouses," he said.
Even holding down three jobs, Midas found time to "hang around with the older folks, at polka dances. He was so involved with people. Anything he could get involved in, he was. He moved to Weatherly a couple of years ago, and was on the committee for the town's anniversary. He was quite popular up in that town," Ondrus said.
As for Ondrus, he said he's keeping busy, and doing all right.
Peoples' concern is appreciated, and the next few days are going to be tough. Ondrus said prayers and the strength of God, and the love and support of the community, will help him get through them, and that he just wants to remember the good times he and Midas had.
"I'm doing fine," he said. "I don't want the focus to be on me. It needs to be on Dave's family. They're the ones we need to focus on."