Monday, May 25, 2009

CAUGHT UP

My wedding ring quite literally saved my life once. We were executing a high risk search warrant on a mobile home which served as a backwoods pharmacy for heroin, cocaine, marijuana, pills, etc... Our informant had told us that there were lots of guns inside and there was no doubt that the home's occupants would use them if we didn't get inside and subdue them quickly. I knew from previous encounters just how unhinged they were. I believed him. I had a sick feeling in my stomach all day- a dark premonition- but all the while I felt caught up and born along. That is the only way I can describe it. I had a bad feeling about it, but at the same time I knew without a doubt that I was going to go into work, and that I was going to take part in the search warrant.

Shortly after getting into my uniform we all clomped down the hallway to the Sgt's office for the briefing. On a dry erase board they had a drawing of the home based on the informant's information including the location of where they kept guns. They had a lot of guns.

They laid out the game plan and gave us our assignments. Two other officers and I were going to jump a chain link fence and move towards the home's north doorway while the main force went to the south doorway. The plan was to simultaneously enter the home through the two doors and hopefully cut off the occupants from the back bedrooms.

After the briefing everyone was milling around, talking and joking while we waited to head out. I slipped into the bathroom, closed the door behind me, and prayed. Looking back on it now it seems silly, but at the time I firmly believed that somebody was going to die. Through the door I heard the guys laughing in the squad room, and I felt caught up. I was going to go.

I went over to my desk, pulled out a pad of paper, and quickly scrawled a note to Sarah. Then it was time to go. I read the note back to myself and then placed it in the top drawer of my desk. The note sounded stupid, but the guys were heading out and there was no time for revisions. I pushed the drawer closed, and followed them.

As we drove towards the house we reviewed our assignments. I thought about the stupid note with regret. Then suddenly we were there, somebody said "alright lets do it," and the next thing I knew I was running toward the chain link fence. The officer in front of me vaulted the vence and sprinted across the yard towards the door. I followed him over the fence, but when I turned to run, my hand was stuck fast to the fence. I just about pulled my arm out of socket in an adrenaline-fueled attempt to free myself.

"What's wrong, Tate?" asked the officer behind me.

"I'm stuck," was all I could muster.

The chain link fence had somehow worked its way under my ring, and I couldn't get it loose. I pulled on it like a crazy animal trying deperately to get free. People were depending on me. I heard shouting from inside the trailer. I told myself to be calm, and I slid the section of fence out from under my ring. Then just as I became free. I heard gun shots "pop-popping" from inside the trailer. I drew my gun and ran to the north door where the first officer was trying unsuccessfully to force entry. We decided to make our way around to the south door.

Apparently what had happened was when they forced the south door they were met by an unexpectedly large number of people in the first room. They had just received a new delivery of drugs and their faithful clients were there getting high. While they were taking them into custody the drug dealers armed themselves and one of them barricaded himself into his bedroom with a girl who was eight months pregnant and high as a kite. When the officers made it to the bedroom he began to fire through the door at them.

The pregnant girl had the presence of mind to yell out "he's reloading!" and seeing that he had run out of bullets, the officers jumped him. The second drug dealer who had locked himself in his room was furiously attempting to eat all of the drugs before we could find them. he was taken into custody without incident. He looked like he had tried to eat a bag of flour. His goatee and the front of his shirt were powdered.

Nobody died...

...but when I returned to the scene the next day they had placed trajectory dowels through the bullet holes sticking out of the trailer wall. They were right at head and chest level and right where I estimate that either I or the officer behind me would have been running if my ring had not become entangled with the fence. the hair stood up on the back of my neck and along my forearms.

I threw away the note, and decided not to tell Sarah anything about it.

There is still a gouge on the inside of my ring from when I tried to pull myself free from the fence. Its lines have softened in the metal, but it is till clearly visible if you know what you are looking for.

Sometimes I see it and shiver.


4 comments:

spritely0 said...

That was a God-intervention my friend.

What makes you think to share these often random stories?

And I say, in 3-6 months, we all go to North Dakota and do a kidnapping intervention on the Dachtlers. Whaddya say?

barefootkangaroo said...

I'm with you about the Dachtlers, but then again I don't know how I would hold them as well as you and Brian against your will without a basement. I think a basement would be key for an operation like that.

As for the stories...I don't know...it's probably a melange of narcissism and catharsis with a dash of just plain old story telling.

steve said...

This story is why I love the Internet

sarah said...

even though Josh didn't tell me, I found out. at church. three weeks later. a woman came up to Josh and said, "I heard there was a shooting! Were you involved?!"
and he couldn't lie.
hmmm...