I'm sitting here watching the History channel show modern marvels. Today's topic is police guns. The most fascinating part of the show so far is the fact that when Walt Whitman climbed that tower in Texas the first folks to successfully engage him were citizens with hunting rifles who had come running as soon as they heard what was going on.
Is there any documentation of that? It might make an interesting paper for my last semester at school.
Also what would happen today if armed citizen showed up at an active shooter situation that totally overwhelmed the police (Bank of America anyone?) and offered to help?
I think we all know the answer to that one, so how about this: What sort of situation would it take for the police to accept citizen help?
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August 8, 2003, 05:15 AM
I feel really sad to say this but, no, the cops would not accept help from a citizen normally. Not being a LEO myself but it would seem that unless the officer on site had no back up, no way to call for back up and in deep ******, he would not even trust you to get near him with a firearm, because cops have to be in control of all fire arms in the area that they feel that they can not control. Day of the Posse is gone, for most of the US of A.
Rule 1 at cop school, cover your @$$.
Rule 2 at cop school, cover your @$$.
Rule 3 at cop school, cover your @$$.
.02 to be taken with salt
August 8, 2003, 05:52 AM
Citizens don't help police; police help Citizens! mmkay?
August 8, 2003, 08:11 AM
Sure there's documentation of the citizens firing back. Heck, it was citizen Allen Crum who (M1 Carbine in hand) accompanied the Austin P.D. officer (and future Ranger) Ray Martinez to storm the Tower and kill Charles Whitman.(To the best of my knowledge, the great American 19th Century poet and author of Leaves Of Grass never turned murderer and climbed into a tower... ;) ) Our very own Art Eatman was on scene that day, taking intelligent cover behind a handy oak tree. You might ask him for more. Never have seen any interviews with any of the citizens who shot back, though.
There was a citizen (reportedly a deer hunter returning home) who killed a man who had just murdered a Texas lawman on a traffic stop, back in the '70s. Northerner newspaper people were reportedly rather perturbed that the locals would not release the name of a citizen who just did the right thing.
There's plenty more. Gosh, just a couple of months ago I posted about a local (TX again) monk (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=23449&highlight=monk) helping an officer out when things went wrong during a felony arrest.
August 8, 2003, 08:40 AM
Whenever a citizen actively intervenes to help stop a crime, the first statement by the police "spokesman" is: "we don't encourage the public to take the law into their own hands"; implying that the person may be a vigilante.
Indeed, LEO's on this board have stated that citizens should be "good witnesses", if they really want to help. One gets the impression that the major emphasis is on report writing, rather than actually solving (or better yet preventing) the crime.
Duckfoot has pegged the primary issues as control and cya. Unless the officer is completely overpowered, hurt or wounded, they'd rather the public passively comply with criminals, and stay out of the way.
Steve in PA
August 8, 2003, 09:43 AM
That was then........this is now.
There are alot of reasons for the citizen not to do today.........what could have been done in days gone by.
I'm sure every LEO would appreciate getting help when they are trying to arrest someone and are on the loosing end. Getting into gun battles is a different matter. If I was not a LEO I might ask if they needed my help or if there was anything I could do. But grabbing a gun and getting into the mix of things........the intentions may be well meant........but boy are you opening yourself up to civil liability!!!
As far as being a good witness...........thats right......being a good witness is by far the best thing you good do. It has nothing to do with "report writting". People may want to get involved........but your more likely to cause a bigger problem than already exists.
Example........a traffic stop or a domestic situation......bullets begin to fly.....Mr Good-Citizen grabs his gun to help out......and now you have another person with a gun........cops there or arriving cops have no idea that this person just wants to "help".........and now they think there is another gunman. Be a witness so you can say......yeah Gunman X was blazing away at his wife/son/husband/officer, etc
Getting involved that way is not a smart idea. Helping to detain a robbery suspect, stopping someone from assaulting another person, etc.......sure, do what you think is necessary. Getting involed in an ongoing shootout....which was the origin of this thread......is not advised.
August 8, 2003, 10:23 AM
The American Rifleman had an article detailing citizen participation in the effort to stop Whitman. I think it was published within months of the crime, certainly within the year after it.
One thing I remember from it is a student who had a bolt-action .30-06 (1917 Enfield?) in his locker because he was doing some work on it at school. When he heard the commotion he got it out, assembled it, and got up where he could shoot at Whitman. He didn't have the best angle but may have kept Whitman busy dodging around.
I'm sure I have the magazine here somewhere but finding it could take months!
August 8, 2003, 11:16 AM
Steve makes good point.
If not in uniform, how is arriving backup to know you not bad guy ?
That's how plain cloths cops sometimes get shot by uniforms.
Think carefully before acting.
August 8, 2003, 11:22 AM
The real problem for the armed samaritan is the ambiguity of the situation. In the case of a tower sniper, it's pretty clear cut, but there are lots and lots of scenarios where a citizen can misinterpret what's going on.
The classic training scenario that illustrates this point is something like this:
"you're walking through a parking garage, and see a 200 pound man pinning a 130 pound woman to the floor, what do you do?"
The catch is that you've arrived in the middle of something, and don't know that the woman has a gun, tried to attack the man, and he's got her gun hand pinned. If you shoot the man, you magically become a manslaughterer at best. If you order the man off the woman, she shoots whoever is convenient.
Now, I'm certainly not arguing against armed samaritanship, but I am advocating for doing so with extreme caution and knowledge that your information is incomplete, and therefore urge that no one take irrevocable action unless the need to do so is clear.
Whenever possible, slow down and de-escalate!
August 8, 2003, 11:53 AM
To the best of my knowledge, the great American 19th Century poet and author of Leaves Of Grass never turned murderer and climbed into a tower...
Beat me to it. :D Not the loveable Walt Whitman.
August 8, 2003, 12:04 PM
In August of 1966, the Austin PD only had the Rem Model 8 or equivalent. (Winchester .351 self-loaders? Dunno.) Anyway, nothing that could truly be called effective.
The then-head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Col. Homer Garrison, told my father at the next Rotary meeting that had it not been for some citizens' rifle fire, Whitman could have stayed in place until he ran out of water. His initial shooting was from a point where he could control the only access door onto the observation deck.
The nearest building (then) with enough height to actually see onto the south deck of the tower is some 600 yards away from the tower, at the corner of 19th St. and Lavaca Ave. I saw one deputy access the roof with a scoped Model 70.
Whitman began firing over the parapet wall. He later was firing through any one of three (IIRC) drain holes at the base of the parapet wall. Ground fire was accurate enough to scare him away from this area, enabling access by the police.
The GI Carbine was brought to the scene by a National Guard guy. A cop in the main lobby of the tower took it away from him. Officer Martinez then arrived, having come through the steam tunnels. The assistant manager of the University CoOp Bookstore showed up; he was a WW II vet of urban combat in Europe. He took the Carbine, and directed the process which resulted in Whitman's death.
The longest kill-shot of which I know occurred near me; 420 yards and into the right shirt pocket. This was at the intersection of 20th St. & Univ. Ave.
I directed an ambulance to that scene, and then played MP in directing traffic. Drivers-by wanted to stop and gawk. "You really want to get shot?" was sometimes required to persuade them to leave the intersection of 19th & Univ. Ave. (I was out of Whitman's sight, hidden by a Baptist church. :))
Whitman had dressed in khakis. He had a footlocker on a dolly. A 6mm Rem with a K4; a GI Carbine; a .357 revolver, and a sawn-off shotgun pistol. Sardines, crackers, five gallons of water. He casually took the elevator to the office of the observation deck. He killed the lady there, and killed two and wounded two of a would-be-visitors family, using the shotgun pistol.
He opened fire with the Carbine, into the crowd on the south mall during the change of classes. He never shot at ambulances or medics.
It seemed like the more the radio told folks to stay away, the more they came to look. Some people left home, drove across town, and got shot.
August 8, 2003, 12:45 PM
Not Walt Whitman....Slim.
Art, Glad that experience was before me, and that you came through with no extra holes.
August 8, 2003, 02:36 PM
Not all help comes in the manner of wielding a gun.
My Cpl and former FTO once tried to stop a drunk from getting into his car. (The guy staggered to his car, dropped his keys a few times, couldn't find the key, reeked of booze. My Cpl. decided to do him a favor and take the guy into custody for the lesser Class C offense rather than for the higher DWI charge that was forthcoming. Public safety issue, too. ) The guy was very large, and in a slurred babble declared his sobriety to one and all, and that he was NOT going to be arrested. At that point, my pal Sam called for backup and SHOULD have deployed an intermediate weapon, but he was a lot less experienced then, and tried empty hands. The drunk, of course, resisted, and Sam found himself on the ground with the guy, doing his best just to keep the guy off of his weapon, while getting little done in the way of getting the man into handcuffs. A couple of citizens came out of the convenience store, and asked, "Officer, do you require assistance?", all the while getting in some nice kicks to the resisting drunk's ribcage. When they got him on the defensive, Sam got some 'cuffs on the guy. The backup officer didn't arrive for 4 more minutes (we're a little rural). This was a nice example of a citizen helping an officer out.
Then there is the famous Trooper Coates video tape, in which a horrible tragedy was documented on a S. Carolina State Trooper's mobile video camera, back in '91. The trooper was patting down a shorter, much fatter subject for weapons when the guy went ballistic, knocking him down and shooting him in the chest with a little .22 mini revolver he'd had in his pocket. That first shot hit the vest. Trooper Coates got his .357 out and returned fire, hitting the guy 4/5 shots center mass (mostly belly), knocking him down. When the trooper got on the radio to yell for backup (unfortunately not seeking cover first), the wounded bad guy made a one in a million shot, hitting the trooper under the arm in the gap of the vest, severing the aorta from about 25 feet away, in the dark. ( ! ) :( Trooper Coates, normally a calm man, got on the radio and screamed in a panic, begging for backup as he died, literally expiring over the radio. Another trooper, who'd driven past the traffic stop a mnute and a half earlier, responded at Ludicrous Speed, and HIS video documents how he very nearly killed two truckers who'd seen the shooting and stopped to help the fallen trooper out. The backup trooper found: two men, one of whom vaguely resembled the man that he remembered having seen Trooper Coates with earlier, standing near his fallen fellow trooper, with a .380 in hand, looking into the darkness. What they were looking for was the real shooter, wounded but not even dying (though some shots had come within tiny fractions of an inch of severing great artories or hitting the spine, none was immeditelyh life threatening for the shooter, who never lost consciousness), lying in the ditch in the dark. (The truckers were in the headlights of the assailant's stopped Mustang) The responding tooper screamed at them incoherently to "Git Down! Git Down NOW! I'll kill you right NOW if you don't drop the ****ing weapon and git on the ground!" They tried to explain that there was an armed man in the darkness, but almost died for their insistance on pointing out the real danger.
In the responding trooper's defense, he'd just heard a good friend of his, a powerful ex-linebacker who was in superior physical condition, scream in agony over the radio before he drove up on that same man lying in the slow lane of traffic, not breathing, not moving, his gun by his side. The responding officer couldn't see anyone around but the two truckers, one of whom was armed and looked vaguely like the last person this trooper had seen his buddy with alive. Any one of us would have felt unspeakable rage and confusion. To the responding officer's credit, he did get the truckers disarmed without hurting them, and eventually played a key role in investigating what had actually happened, taking photos and securing the mobile video tapes. But I often wonder whether those two truckers ever think about how close they came to dying, there beside that fallen officer that night?
I wonder if they'd do anything differently? Would they even stop to help again? :confused:
August 8, 2003, 04:48 PM
Mat G et al,
Thanks for the correction.
See why you shouldn't post at almost 2 am kids?
(I still don't trust poets though. Especially the ones that write poetry that doesn't rhyme, there is just something wrong about them.)
August 8, 2003, 06:51 PM
That case illustrates the wisdom of what I've heard in every firearm defense class I've taken, and every book on the topic that I've read:
If the gunfight hasn't started, keep it out of sight. When the gunfight's finished, reload it and put it away.
August 8, 2003, 07:43 PM
We have a long tradition in my area of helping out one another.
Unfortunately, the sleepy little rural county where I came to work 30 years ago chose to plunge headlong into the twentieth century and be part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. (Still hasn't completely reconciled to the twenty-FIRST century yet, but it's a-coming! :p)
There was a time when I could call every full time cop (and a lot of the reserves) in the county by name. Conversely, I was known, at least on-sight, to them. Guys from different agencies heard trouble on the radio and came careening in from twenty miles away. Lots of 'em brought along their non-cop pals. Sometimes the pals came up on their own. Little or no problem back then, but THIS is NOW. :(
Today, I'd be pretty careful approaching scene of a major problem, even with badge held high, if I wasn't able to call out to someone I recognized.
All that being said(tm), I recall a few times - - -
On patrol, I stopped a car for weaving. The driver shakily obeyed instructions but his two companions wanted to yell and wave their arms. No cover unit free. It took me about ten minutes to sort out things, arrest the driver, release the car to the loudest yeller, and them departed.
A blue Plymouth had stopped across the street. That driver sat there, watching. He came over after I had the drunk in my car. Said he'd been "on the way back from the range" when he stopped to watch. This was to take me off the hook in case anyone learned that he had an 8-3/8" barrel S&W .44 under his jacket. This civic minded individual was known to me, of course . . . .
Took a call of a large rattlesnake in garage in a residence. A dozen neighbors gathered, to keep the serpent from slithering out where the kids were playing. I unlimbered the catch pole but the snake didn't cooperate. Householder said he didn't mind if I shot the snake. I 'splained that a .357 was a bit much gun for the purpose, inside the garage. A sweet-faced matron asked, "Would a twenty-two be better?" I foolishly asked, "You have one right handy?" People immediately tried to hand me a Colt Woodsman, a Ruger Single Six, and a Winchester bolt rifle, all being handled with due care. I managed with the catch stick and a burlap bag, but it was heart warming, indeed . . . .
A friend stopped a suspicious car in residential area. Five guys boiled out, yelling and cursing that they were being harassed. While they worked themselves into a frenzy, and my pal wondered where was the backup, a 75-year-old resident pulled up in his driveway nearby. While the noise got louder, the white-headed old dude opened the trunk of his car and skinned a model 12 out of its case. The five suspects began a flanking movement, and the cop knew he was gonna have to kill some of them, and maybe get hurt himself. Old Bob strolled across the street, feeding yellow shells into the magazine. He sided the cop and said, "I'm going to start on this end, Jimmy," punctuating his statement in the logical manner. The yelling and cursing faded suddenly as the "viejo loco chin - -" took aim at the far belly to the left. Backup arrived a couple of minutes later with two cuffed on the ground, and the other three spread on the pavement, eagerly awaiting their own handcuffs. The elderly birdshooter (this was late Spring, BTW) and the cop were lighting up . . . .
Doesn't happen very often, nowadays, though.
August 8, 2003, 08:55 PM
I personally advocate people policing themselves and doing whats right. Unfortunately that doesn't always work. Living out where I do I have no local police and rely on a State Trooper barracks about 10 miles away for 911. Funny, that there is very little crime where I live.
Back growing up in NJ, the town Carnival every summer was always a nightmare for LEO's. Fights, drugs, drunks etc... A lightweight LEO had broken up a fight and had a drunk cuffed when he decided to struggle and give the cop a hard time. My cousin Steve and I were standing back when my cousin calls out to the officer and asks if he needs a hand with him. My cousin is 6'6" and about 300 pounds and resembles bigfoot. Our badguy immediately settles down at the sight of him. We then escorted our now docile baddy to his cruiser until he was in the back.
Another time we had a B/E down the street and police cars everywhere. I went out to see what was going on and the closest officer filled me in that they had a call of a B/E in progress and the bad guys fled into the woods behind the houses (including mine) in our development. I went back inside and handed over my umpteen zillion candlepower spotlight to the police for the search. Badguys were caught and I got a thank you.
August 8, 2003, 11:06 PM
Also what would happen today if armed citizen showed up at an active shooter situation that totally overwhelmed the police (Bank of America anyone?) and offered to help?Depends. I'm lucky enough to live in a very small community (on an island) I'm friends with virtually all of the cops that patrol here. If it looked like they needed my help, I would be glad to give it, and they would be glad to have it.
That is how life works in civilized places.
Other places not so good maybe.
August 9, 2003, 01:24 PM
In the small town where I pastored until recently, there was a famous incident some years ago. I'm told that three citified gang-bangers held up a local drugstore, looking for prescription narcotics. One of the staff slipped out as things began, and called police, who responded from two directions. She also called her parents, who arrived totin' a .30-30 Model 94 and an 870, and by then had started calling everyone and his dog. Within about 10 minutes, there were literally dozens of residents, most of them older folks who enjoy their duck- and deer-hunting, virtually surrounding the drugstore, all packing shotguns and deer rifles. More than half the town police had to prevent the residents from joining in the action, while a couple of their colleagues took the gang-bangers into custody (and they were VERY eager to be arrested - they could see the alternative, right in front of their eyes! :D ).
Afterward, most of the complaints were from townspeople who muttered that their police force was "hoggin' all the fun for theirselves", and it wasn't fair! :D
August 9, 2003, 01:44 PM
it wasn't fair!It almost never is. :D :p :neener:
August 9, 2003, 03:25 PM
The unwritten rule is that if you are a civilian, you stand down once the police/military arrive. Anything else, even with the best intentions is asking for trouble.
'The road to hell is paved with good intentions'
August 9, 2003, 11:41 PM
Its so refreshing to know that such people still exist.
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.Isnt that how Californie got started on its way to its current situation? That one logical quote can smack a liberal down toot sweet. (Sorry Micro.)
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