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If this is your first visit, Part 1 is located here. I was not nice, and posted it as a teaser, sorry but I couldn’t resist.
Here I was looking over the barrel of my Glock, using the sights to view one of the most surreal episode of my life. The light from the moon was casting a murky, ominous light on the scene being played out before my unbelieving eyes. I was seemingly viewing what was happening as if, a spectator in a roadside freak show.
My mind, processing information so quickly yet inwardly appearing to be a slow meticulous checklist of right and wrong. My thoughts pointing out the plethora of things I had done wrong, and not much on the positive side. I was facing this man, this obviously drunken man who’s thoughts had to be impaired, or he wouldn’t be doing this. My mind searching, feeling, trying to come up with a solution to this very dangerous predicament. My hesitation scaring the shit out of me, and causing even further second guessing.
“Sheriff’s Department, PUT THE GUN DOWN, DO IT NOW” (God I hope he does it, he could shoot me any time, what the hell am I waiting for). As my mind continually reviewed all that I had done wrong, and examined all the possibilities that I had in front of me.
“Put your down and I’ll put mine down”
(What the hell; ¿ hey wait a minute, he’s giving me an opening, a way out of this mess. I could let him save a little face, and hopefully put an end to this crazy situation) My mind started examining this possibility, and all of it’s implications from every standpoint including officer safety.
“OK, I’m putting my gun down”. (What the hell am I doing, I can’t put my gun down, I can’t do that, it’s against all the rules! Yes I can, It’ll stop this crazy shit, the ends justify the means in this circumstance) I kneeled down, and placed my gun on the dirt of the road, not taking my hand off it. (He can’t see any better than I can!)
“Good, I’m doing the same.” As he stumbled forward, and placed the shot gun on the ground, then stood back up.
“Now back up, away from the gun.” (Thank God) while he was backing up, I picked my gun up and slid it back into the holster so he couldn’t see it. I held my hands out so he could see them, and started walking across the road. As I got closer, his face took on a smile and he held his hand out as if he was meeting someone for the first time. (Jesus, he wants to shake hands as if we just met on the street. Dam in a way, I guess we did.)
“Hello, I’m Glenn Bannon, (belch) who are you, and what is going on here.”
I reached out and grabbed his hand to shake it, my body tensed, every muscle ready, preparing for some kind of action. (I could take him down with an arm bar, he just handed me his hand. No, no, lets play this out and see what happens, give 104 some time to get here) About this time, I started hearing all those things my mind had blocked out. That tunnelvision of singular clarity broken, and opening up those other senses. I could hear the fireman talking on the radio with dispatch, giving a blow by blow description of what was happening. I heard 104, telling dispatch that he was on Red Hill, and going as fast as he could. (Shit, even if he’s going 100 MPH it’ll still take 20 minutes for him to get here. I’ve gotta buy some time here, talk this shit out and keep things toned down).
“I’m Eric, with the Sheriff’s Department. We’re here because you have that bonfire, and the county has a fire ban on due to high fire danger.”
“Ahh hell, I was just burning some trash, I have it in a pit, and its completely safe. Come on, I’ll show you. I got some beer, you want one” (You have to be kidding me.)
We walked up the driveway to his house, and shed. He showed me where his fire pit was, and how it was constructed. I told him about all the dangers of the fire, including the flying sparks and ashes that he could not keep in his fire pit, and pointed them out to him as we spoke. Explaining as best I could why the fire was dangerous, and that he needed to let the fire department put it out.
My pack set had been a constant hum of activity. The fire department had informed dispatch that I had gone up the driveway with the suspect, and they could no longer see me. Dispatch had started trying to status check me, and was getting more and more frequent, meaning they were worrying, and about to call out the Calvary.
“Glenn, I have to answer them, or your going to be dealing with a whole bunch more problems." He nodded his head. “Fairplay, 132, I’m 10-4. break 751, you can come up and put the fire out.”
Glenn then took me around his property and showed me all the defensive bunkers he had built. He was really proud of them, and could have in theory defended his property from a massive military assault. I found out he was a Viet Nam Vet, and had a few issues to deal with. Before I knew it, 104 was on scene, and I gladly handed the case over to him. I stayed right with him, watching and learning, paying attention to everything he did. Unfortunately, he chose not to arrest Glenn that night, just secure the weapons, and file for a warrant later. I’ll not try to understand his reasoning, just accept things as they happened.
A little while later, I was sitting down at my patrol car, collecting my thoughts, and trying to review what had just happened. When the Ambulance drove by, on their way out, surprisingly, this had a profound, grounding effect on my mood. I realized at that moment, that the ambulance was there for me, and things could have very easily turned out far worse than they did. I started shaking, feeling the cold of the night for the first time.
The shotgun was illegal, being sawed of at less than 18 inches long, and had been loaded with double ought buck shot. It would have been hard for him to miss at that range, with that weapon and load. I learned my first set of very valuable lesson that night, the hard way. Always make sure your equipment works, and never take anything for granted. I found out later that the dispatcher working that night was Glenn’s ex wife. She told me that she had been wishing I would have shot the “son of a bitch”. He had abused her mentally and physically for many years before she got away from him.
When this case came up for a preliminary hearing, the defense attorney asked me one question only. “Deputy, tell me were you really in fear, I mean come on.” My answer was simple,
Only a fool is not afraid, it is what you do with that fear that separates you from others, and defines you as a person.
I was criticized by many of my fellow reserves and regular paid officers. Many of them stated flat out that they would have shot Glenn as soon as he started raising the shotgun. The Sheriff at the time was one of the few that told me “Forget them (with a little more colorful use of terms) they were not there. As far as I’m concerned, you did the right thing because NO ONE got hurt”.
This incident actually caused me a fair amount of sleepless nights and recurring dreams. The dream was always the same, I was involved in a gunfight, and my weapon would not work, my friends and coworkers were falling around me, and there was nothing I could do. I had that dream fairly consistently until another situation I was involved in occurred that proved the dream to be false. Perhaps I will tell that story some time.
This call firmly cemented my reputation as a “Shit Magnet”. I had already been considered one because every time I rode with the Deputies, all hell would break loose. My reputation continued, and was bolstered on more than one occasion through out my career.
Quote of the day:
The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us. - Paul Valery
Note: Specific names, such as streets and addresses, along with any names other than mine used in these stories have been changed to protect identities of the innocent or accused. This story is based on actual events in my life.