Editor's Note: Cop Tales are true stories as told by law enforcement officers from all over the country. The stories are told in the first person.
I was working as a deputy in the gang unit and heard from another gang unit deputy that they were looking for a murder suspect from Pomona who was believed to be in our county. One morning, I was reading the obituaries in the newspaper before work to see if anyone I knew had passed away. As I was reading, I noticed the name of the murder suspect was listed as a pallbearer for an upcoming funeral.
After seeing the obituary, we called the Pomona Police Department and set up a takedown operation with them that included our undercover detectives in the funeral home. One of the detectives, with the cooperation of the funeral home, acted as an employee. That undercover detective escorted the murder suspect to a private area where he was taken into custody by Pomona police. He never saw it coming until he was in the room. Once he was in the room with us, he knew there was nothing he could do, so he surrendered quietly.
The funeral went on as planned, with the exception of the funeral home having to arrange for another pallbearer. Although we did feel bad for the grieving family, the suspect had been on the run for two years and was wanted for murder. The safety of the community and the opportunity to take him into custody without incident had to take priority.
One day when I was a California Highway Patrol commander, I was in my unmarked patrol car when I observed a vehicle pass another vehicle using the right shoulder. I stopped the vehicle and made a right-side approach. When I looked at the driver, I noticed he was a middle-aged man wearing a nice dress shirt and tie with nice socks and dress shoes, but he was wearing gym shorts. His dress shirt was tucked into his shorts.
I asked him where he was going, and he politely said, "I'm going to work." Then his attitude changed, and he said, "Well, it's not my work anymore. Those *&^% fired me for no reason and look at all these bills I have." He then showed me a bunch of envelopes and even removed a couple to show the words "Second Notice".
I looked in the rear seat and I observed a large gym bag with the barrel of a rifle sticking out. I called for a back-up unit as I watched him. We got him out of the vehicle and handcuffed him. When we looked in the bag, there were several weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. It was obvious he was on his way to shoot up his workplace. A potentially serious active shooter incident was foiled due to a simple traffic violation.
Staying alert even when off duty
It’s nice to get some days off to spend with family and friends. On one such occasion, I was attending a friend’s wedding at a large hotel in the afternoon. The reception room was very large and sliding glass doors led out to a patio which was approximately 25 feet above the hotel’s pool area.
I was standing across the room while a lot of the guests were dancing after the dinner and festivities. I just happened to look across the room and down into the pool area when I saw a little girl sinking into the pool. She kicked up enough to take a breath, then struggled as she sank again. As I ran to the doors, I saw she was losing the battle and not getting her head out of the water. Her mother and father were lying on the lounge chairs next to the pool with their eyes closed. As I approached the sliding glass doors, I thought they were open and I slammed into one of the closed doors. Many people at the reception laughed and pointed as they thought I had too much to drink. I yanked on the doors in a panic and ran out to the balcony.
I then leaned over the railing and yelled to the parents. I continuously yelled, “Hey, she is drowning.” I had to yell several times before the parents finally looked up at me. I pointed to the girl and repeated, “She is drowning!” The father jumped up and dove in to save her. By that time, several of our wedding guests joined me on the patio to see what had occurred.
Even though I hadn’t had anything to drink before running into the door, a nice cold beer did taste good after that.