8 May 14

Terminal Ballistics!

“We are not preparing for the world we live in. We are preparing for the world we may find ourselves in!”

Michael Mabee

During a brief stand-off between Pinal Co, AZ officers and a single auto-theft suspect, that took place in January of this year, the suspect was ultimately engaged with gunfire by the officers (I count four officers).

You can watch it at:


It’s amateur video, and far from perfect, but it does reveal some details:

Range from officers to suspect looked to be within five meters. The suspect had his back to a car and was facing officers, all of whom had guns drawn and pointed in his direction. Not surprisingly, there is much yelling and screaming. Some of the officers were using their beat-car for cover. At least one was in the open.

I counted nine shots fired. It appears all were fired by police. All rounds were from pistols (caliber/brand of ammunition unknown) as far as I can tell. Impossible to tell how many rounds actually struck the suspect, nor where on his body.

The suspect was wearing a white T-shirt and shorts.

Suspect goes down within eight seconds of the first shot(s) being fired. It is obvious from behavioral and postural changes that he has been hit!


When hit with the first round(s), he appears to be confused. He turns and takes a step, then stops. It looks as if he is trying to turn again as he moves his hands up and down. He then turns away from officers and faces the car he had his back against several seconds earlier. He then tries to put his hands up on the car in a “surrender” position, but collapses an instant later.

No bullet wounds (entry nor exit), nor blood, is visible on the video.

Committing a serious tactical error, officers are seen immediately rushing toward the downed suspect, and laying hands on him. For their own safety, they should have remained behind cover!

Other than that, the lesson here is:

No matter what kinds a small-arms are used, and no matter how many shots are fired, and no matter the range, any kind of “instant” deanimation of a suspect is extremely unlikely.

This suspect remained fully animated, able to walk, able to move his hands, and thus able to render violence in the direction of officers for at least eight seconds after the first round(s) hit him, and in spite of the fact that additional rounds were hitting him the entire time!

For those of us who go armed, we are reminded that VCAs almost always continue to represent a lethal threat to us for a considerable amount of time after they have been fatally wounded.


1) Plan on shooting multiple, carefully-aimed rounds. How many? You don’t get to know that, but keep in mind that only hits count!

2) Even then, don’t be astonished when you don’t see instant results.

3) Use cover!

4) Don’t break cover just because the suspect(s) goes down or otherwise appears to be crippled!

5) Don’t relax too soon!

“You never know when you’ll never know!”

Jarod Kintz,