“Our guardian angel.”
That’s how an Oklahoma family is describing their neighbor, who authorities and witnesses say saved 3-month-old twins from being drowned by their father last week.
Cash Freeman shot and killed 27-year-old Leland Foster on Friday as Foster was holding his two infant children, a boy and girl, underwater in a bathtub, PEOPLE confirms. As Foster attempted to drown his kids, he was pointing a knife as their mother, his ex-girlfriend, Michelle Sorrells.
Freeman was alerted by Sorrells’ 12-year-old niece. He lives next to Sorrells’ step-father in Ada, Oklahoma, according to police, who said he is not expected to be charged in Foster’s death.
“He saved me and my babies’ lives, and there will not be a day that will go by that I won’t thank him for that,” Sorrells told local TV station KXII. (She did not respond to PEOPLE’s requests for an interview; Freeman could not be reached for comment.)
Sorrells told the station she believes Foster had a mental breakdown before the attack. On Friday, he forced his way into her stepfather’s home following an argument over their faltering relationship, she said.
“I guess the thought of not having me or his children in his life for a while made him snap,” she said.
She tried fighting back, she said, but Foster punched and choked her, preventing her from saving her children.
“My niece was there trying to get them out of the water,” she told KWTV. “I wound up accidentally hitting her and crumbling to the floor. He [Foster] takes her head and slammed it into the side of the wall. I remember thinking, I’ve got to keep hitting him … I’ve got to get back to the babies, because he turned them face-down in the water again and they’re going to drown.'”
Sorrells said she promised Foster she would do anything to save her babies. But “he said, ‘It’s too late for that now.’ He was so calm.”
Then, suddenly, “I hear two pops really loud. It made my ears ring, and Leland grunts, ‘Oh!’ ” Sorrells recalled.
Foster had been hit twice in the back.
“If [Freeman] hadn’t done it, just plain and simple we’d be planning four funerals,” the twins’ step-grandfather, Jeremy Burris, told KXII.
“I don’t wish this on anybody,” Burris said. “Nobody should have to go through this at all. I’m just glad that my granddaughter was able to get help and our guardian angel was our neighbor.”