24 Nov 99
This is from a LEO friend on the East Coast. It shows that rational behavior on the part of erstwhile normal people is something upon which you can never depend:
“While working in _______ Maryland, we got a call that an individual in the back of a pickup truck was waving a handgun around, pointing it at other motorists.
I was the second of five, marked vehicles to participate in the vehicle stop. I pulled to the left of the first marked unit and held the people in the vehicle at gunpoint. Other officers stopped traffic in all directions. One at a time, we extracted the people from the pickup and then sent a dog in to check for anyone else who might have been hidden.
During this whole time, there were six officers with guns out, all pointed at the people in the pickup. The stop took place next to a very popular ice cream store and beach bar. There were several HUNDRED people watching, and it struck me that all you hear anymore is people are afraid of guns and don’t want to be near violence.
You could have fooled me! As we pointed our guns at the people in the pickup, a crowd of at least fifty bystanders formed behind the suspect vehicle, directly in our line of fire! My ‘backstop’ was several babies and many adults! They all had a mesmerized, carnival disposition and displayed no fear at all, nor did they pay the slightest attention to our repeated verbal commands for them to get out of the way. It was obvious none of them thought any of what they were seeing was real.
Luckily, the ‘gun’ in question was a replica, but it looked real enough to get Goofy shot. We finished up and got out of there quickly.
We talked about it afterward and really wondered if we would have been able to return fire.”
Lesson: “Common” sense is actually a rare commodity. Never assume it to be a common virtue.