Monday, January 4, 2010

Analysis of Thanksgiving Week-End Ambush

The SeattleHeadlines Examiner has an article that includes an account of a coffee-shop shooting of four police officers. My barber sent me an analysis of the incident, and I thought you might benefit from the tactical analysis:

A retired Tacoma PD officer the owned coffee shop.  It was considered a "safe" hangout (whatever that means, as it was open to the public) for cops waiting to go on duty, or to stop by for a break. 

The four slain officers had been hired by newly established Lakewood PD.  Almost all of the officers were hired from Pierce County Sheriff's Office.  Most were sworn deputies, but had primarily worked the jail.  Sounds like they had little time on the road. 

The four deputies were drinking coffee before shift and working on laptops with heads down.   Table was approximately 15 feet from counter/check out register.

Shooter came in and smiles and acknowledges the two deputies facing the doorway/entrance.  They return greeting. Shooter goes up to counter like he is going to order.   After stepping up to counter, he pulls semi-automatic pistol from under his coat.  Shooter takes a couple of steps toward table where the deputies are seated.   Distance is now approximately 12 feet.  

Shooter shoots first officer, who is facing him across table.  He is shot in head.  He is killed instantly.  Shooter then shoots nearest officer that is seated away from him, in the back of the head.  He is killed instantly.  Shooter then shoots across table at third officer, who is facing him, and misses.  Fourth shot is fired and strikes third officer in face, killing him instantly.  

Last deputy is a sergeant, who stands, while drawing weapon, and charges shooter.  Table knocked over in attempt to stand.  Sergeant grabs shooter by coat and engages shooter.  First round strikes shooter in mid-section and goes through and through.  Second round is fired and strikes shooter in his front pocket.  Round hits keys, but penetrates about 1.5 inches into shooter's thigh.  Officers carry 180 grain Gold Dot ammunition (unknown at this time what kind of pistol).

Shooter raises gun and shoots sergeant in face.  Sergeant falls to ground. Shooter kneels/bends over sergeant and does a CONTACT shot to the right eye.  Shooter then shoots sergeant in the other eye, once again a CONTACT shot.  

Shooter takes sergeant's wallet and steals credit cards and sergeant’s duty weapon.  Shooter does not rob the store or hurt or threaten anyone else.
The shooting lasted approximately 3-5 seconds for the first three officers.  The sergeant’s encounter lasted another 5-7 seconds.

Accomplice waiting outside and the shooter gets into car.  They leave the area. Accomplice is a former cellmate he did time with in Arkansas prison.
Federal agents track shooter by cellphone "pinging" to locate phone/area.  Five more additional accomplices help shooter with medical issues, food, money, etc.  Feds find driver and get the name of shooter. All accomplices are arrested and general area where shooter is headed is ascertained.  

Tuesday, approximately 3:00 AM, shooter turns off phone and takes battery out, so that Feds can no longer track phone. 

Short time later, Pierce County deputy checks an abandoned car, its engine running with lights on and driver's door open.  

As deputy was walking back to his squad car, he sees movement from behind squad car. Once he clears his headlights, which were blinding him, he sees shooter and recognizes him.  Shooter is crouching behind squad now.  Deputy orders him to ground and other commands.  Shooter attempts to draw weapon and starts to run.  Deputy fires five rounds.  Three strike the shooter, who falls to ground.  Deputy covers shooter until backup arrives.  Unknown how long this took. Once backup on scene, shooter is cuffed.  He is dead at this point.  

Deputies find slain sergeant’s duty weapon on shooter.  The round recovered from the shooter's body is traced to the sergeant’s weapon, confirming the sergeant shot the shooter.  

And some admonishments by the writer:
1. Just because you are "off duty" or in a "safe" restaurant, keep your head up and your eyes and ears open.  

2. Do not sit close to the register or other focal point (entrance doors, bathrooms, hallways, etc).  Try to sit where     you can scan the area.  

3. Leave devices that distract you, like laptops, etc. in the car.

4. Do your reports and other things that take your mind off your safety, at post or far away from the public. 

5. Even at lunch or break, don't let your guard down.  You should always be in condition "yellow."

6. Keep your distance.  Take those lateral steps or diagonal steps and move.  It is a lot harder for the bad guy to shoot a moving target, let alone a lot of distance.

7. Each time you train, train as if your life depends on it. When the time comes, you will not arise to the occasion and be a hero, you will fall to the level of your training effort and perform at that level.  While I do not think they could have done anything different after the contact, do your best at whatever training you attend.  Lose the mentality of "It will never happen to me" and train as you wish to fight, fight like you train.

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