22 Jan 99

This just in from a friend on the East coast:

“Over a period of less than thirty seconds, several officers from a local, Glock-equipped, PD (one hundred sworn), today fired in excess of fifty handgun rounds at a single suspect. The suspect was moving, upright, in the open, and the range was several meters. When the shooting stopped, the suspect was ‘shaken, but unhurt.’ The local landscape was peppered with (errant) police bullets.” No injuries reported.

Lesson: Maybe we ought to go back to revolvers!

On a more serious note:

On Thursday (14 Jan 99), three off-duty, armed, Federal DEA agents were in a local bar (Virginia). After a number of drinks, they began arguing loudly among themselves. Their rowdiness escalated to the point where they were upsetting tables and knocking decorations off the wall. The bar owner subsequently asked them to leave, and (with some grumbling) they complied. However, in the bar parking lot, their intermural acrimony erupted anew.

An employee of the bar, a twenty-one-year-old cook, and another person, a friend (age twenty), were in the process of crossing the parking lot at the same time. The two came into the vicinity of the agents. Upon making eye contact, the agents and the two youths both said something like, ‘What are you looking at?’ at about the same time. A heated argument rapidly developed with various threats exchanged between the two groups. The best evidence suggests that the agents never identified themselves at any time, in any understandable way, even well after the incident.

At one point, the friend of the bar employee (the twenty-year-old) made a dash to a parked, pick-up truck and retrieved a pistol from the inside, which he set on the hood of the truck. It is not clear in which direction it was pointed. In response, all three Federal agents immediately drew their handguns, and at least one started yelling ‘Weapon! He has a weapon!’ One of the three agents then started firing multiple shots in the direction of the truck. Local police later found fourteen, spent, nine millimeter cases which were identified as having come from the agent’s pistol. The brand of the agent’s pistol was not reported. The twenty-year-old was struck only once, through the upper, left arm. He fell to the ground where he stood. The range was ten feet. Multiple rounds struck the truck and the pavement of the parking lot.

Then, the trio of Federal agents advanced on the downed, twenty-year-old and started cursing and kicking him! This brutalization continued until the agents noticed that a second victim of their gunfire was slumped over on the inside of the truck. The bar employee had taken cover in the truck and had subsequently been hit in the chest. Both the bar employee and his friend survived. None of the three Federal agents were injured.

Local police have determined that only one agent fired his weapon during the incident. After brief ‘questioning’ by local police, all three agents were released and allowed to return to their residences, which were in another State. Both the local press and the local police were subsequently stonewalled by the DEA, who refused to talk with anyone, saying only that the matter was ‘under internal investigation’ (read that: ‘in the process of being covered up’). Frustrated, the local police finally filed charges against one of the agents, and arrest warrants are issued. The agent in question, Mr Armento, then voluntarily returned and was charged with ‘Unlawful Wounding’ and ‘Shooting Into an Occupied Vehicle.’

The agent was arraigned, immediately released on a bond of $28,000, and allowed to return to his home (in another State). Curiously, that very same day, two sailors were arrested for shooting a projectile from a slingshot at a local squad car (no injuries). The same judge, in the same courtroom, set their bail at $120,000, each! The DEA tenaciously insists that, ‘No favoritism was shown to its employees.’”

The twenty-year-old has been charged with ‘felony menacing.’ No word on his bail amount. Both cases are still pending.

Lessons learned:

If case you didn’t know already, there is one set of laws for Federal employees and another one (far more restrictive) for the rest of us. Apparently embarrassed at that awkward (but obvious) fact, cover-up is now standard procedure will all Federal agencies.

When you see people arguing and/or fighting, get out of there quickly! Do not answer verbal taunts or threats. Just leave. If you’re concerned for the safety of those who remain, go to a phone and call the police.

Law enforcement personnel fall into the same trap as do many concealed-carry permit holders: “Hey, I know I’m a cop,” “Hey, I have a permit,” etc. “A-man-with-a-gun” is a man with a gun. Sorting out the details takes time, and people can die in the interim.