Friday, May 28, 2010

I'd Like To Share A Story

As you probably already know, my husband (#1) is a police officer. This past winter, I got the call that no officer's spouse wants to get. Only I was very fortunate to get it from my husband, and not from another officer or the chief. I haven't blogged about this because for legal reasons I needed to wait until the trial and all investigations were finished.

My husband was working the evening shift that night, and then was asked to do an undercover detail during the midnight shift. When he came home for dinner (a luxury we no longer enjoy since we moved) he asked if it was ok with me. It meant he'd be working 16 hours straight, but knowing how excited he was to do some undercover work, I agreed it was a great opportunity.
#1 assured me that he and a friend would be driving around in a non descript car wearing plain clothes watching for some guys who were breaking into cars around the city. The idea was that if they spotted anything unusual, they'd call it in and then disappear. He'd have no paperwork and would be home around 8 am. Easy overtime, fun for him.
About 7 am I answered the phone, still a little fuzzy from sleeping and trying to get ready for my Draycare kids to arrive. The boys were not up yet and I was moving slow. The first words I heard were "Don't panic, but Miller* and I were in a shooting and we're ok". I almost thought he was joking for a split second, but knew it wasn't something he'd ever joke about. He said he'd called me in case I turned on the news and saw it...he didn't want me to be worried. I don't turn on the TV in the mornings, he's the only one who does that...but it was a good thing because if I had turned on the TV and saw that two undercover officers in Smalltown USA* had been in a shooting, I would have panicked.
He went on to explain that the SWAT team was at a stand off with the suspects and he wanted to stay around and be there. He is a member of the SWAT team, but because he was part of the initial shooting, they didn't want him to be one of the guys to go in. He sat in the SWAT van early 70's vehicle they use (that is so old I'm surprised it even starts) and waited for things to unfold.
I honestly can't remember if he stayed until that happened, but they did eventually smoke (teargas0 the guys out and arrest them.
Here's what happened that night/early morning. #1 and Miller* got dressed in their very best red neck clothing to drive around in a small silver car. I can't remember the make/model. I'm not great with automobiles. As they were driving around they got a call from a fellow officer to be on the lookout for a guy on foot in their area. After spotting him, they followed him to a nearby motel. He went in, they parked in the lot and waited. They debated going in and pretending they needed to book a room just to see what he was up to, but didn't because they thought they saw him going out another door and back out the the street. They followed the person, but lost sight of him.
Sorry if the story gets a little choppy, it just is a crazy story. While they were sitting in the parking lot, the individual they saw go in actually did use a gun and rob the motel. If they had gone in and interrupted, they probably would have been shot and the man working the desk could have been killed. Instead it went "smoothly" and no one was hurt. Weird to say, I know.
So they followed this other person who actually has nothing to do with anything and then couldn't find him. But as they were driving around the area, a car flew past them and they thought maybe was related to the actual robbery, so they followed it calling in their location. At the same time, the actual aremed robber broke into an apartment and tried to assault a guy (who took away his gun oddly enough) so the midnight shift was swamped. #1 and miller* (who was driving) were told to back off and let it go because there were not enough officers to cover all the bases. (Yes, this is the same department that has had 4 officers retire/resign and is laying off 3 more this month. They never have enough people to begin with!)
As Miller* pulled over to the side of the road, a second car they hadn't noticed before came around them on the drivers side and the passenger was hanging out the window with a handgun. He was inches from their car. Immediately Miller* and #1 ducked down and Miller* returned fire through the windshield hitting their car but not injuring anyone. #1 did not get any rounds off because Miller* was literally laying on top of him.
They called in shots fired officers in need of immediate assistance (also known as "dropping a 99" in case you care) and followed the car to a nearby apartment complex. They watched the suspects get out of their car completely freaked out and run inside their apartment building. #1 and Miller* set up the best perimeter they could with two people and waited for the officers to arrive.
I can't imagine being in that situation, and I know it affected #1. I don't think he'll ever forget what happened. Smalltown USA* has a shooting about every 5 years that involves police officers. They have several shootings a month with drug people shooting each other, but #1 calls that natural selection. Sorry. Bad joke. Smalltown USA* has a population of about 40,000 people. Not a huge city, but big enough for things to happen. Police shootings are something we hate to see happen.
That night, another officer who was sworn in the same day as #1 (I'll have to tell another police story about him sometime...we met him while #1 was in the police academy and this guy was working for another department) came by the house with his wife. Phone calls and visits from several officers had been very common in the 48 hours following the shooting. This guy had been in a shooting his first week on the job! They came by because they knew how shocked we were feeling. It was good to be able to talk to people who understood.
So how did it all turn out? After #1 and Miller* gave their full statements, it was revealed to them that the gun used by the 4 suspects (local college students) was not even a real gun. It was some kind of a pellet gun that looks like a real hand gun. That bothered #1 for quite some time, but everyone assured them that it looks identical to a "real" gun and there was no way for them to know unless they handled it personally.
Miller* was cleared and the shoot was considered "good". He had every right to fire at the suspects and took the appropriate action. #1 also struggled with the fact that he personally had not been able to shoot at them, but really he had a big ol' guy laying on him and it all happened within a few seconds. Not much he could do about it. Miller* has since quit his job for the deparment and now works for the US Marshalls. Go him!
#1 received a high honor award at his award ceremony a few weeks ago. The fact that they kept their head in the game, followed the suspects, and set up a perimeter while they waited for backup in light of the situation his department found noteworthy.
We just found out that the four suspects (who by the way had NOTHING to do with the actual robbery they semi witnessed...they were just shooting at Miller* and #1 to "scare a couple of white boys" in the suspects words...they then initially thought they had messed with the wrong hill billys...they had NO idea #1 and Miller* were cops) only received a slap on the wrist in the end. They all served some time in jail while everything was sorted out, but then bonded out and pled down to a misdemeanor...inducing panic in a public area. What they actually did could be considered a felony. No one at the department was very happy with the outcome. That happens quite a bit though...people plead out and get barely anything. This happens in all cities.
So now the story is told. God always protects, and honestly I don't worry about #1 any more now when he goes to work than I did before that day in December. However, for those of you who were wondering, it is a big reason why we moved out of Smalltown USA*. That day #1 decided that we would be moving out of the city. When we couldn't find a house in the township, we moved to this other Smalltown USA*. We aren't far, and I still do 90% of my shopping, use the library, and go to church where he works...we just don't live there. Because people know him. And they know us. And he isn't comfortable with that.
This is all public record, and "now you know the rest of the story"! (I love Paul Harvey)
*Names changed


The Kampers said...

oh my! What an ordeal! I am really glad you have had people to talk with about all of this and that things turned out the way they did! Praise God!

Jenilee said...

I am so glad that everything is ok from that night! what a story to tell!

Mama Hen said...

Yikes! So thankful for the ending you got. I love that God keeps our husbands matter the outcome, they are in His hands. OH reminds me of that often - we can't change the way it's supposed to go, we can just trust that He's got it all worked out.
What a crazy story...thanks for sharing it!

All Things Family For Us said...

WOW....hey, meant to tell you, we were in YOUR smalltown USA this weekend for my SIL's med school graduation..but as I'm sure you know...since we drove 8 hrs Friday, and 8 more Sunday...we only had Saturday to spend w/family and the boys great grandmother was there and hadn't ever met I didn't tell ya!

SO glad that #1 was scary!