VIDEO: Officer Shot Point Blank. Child Choked. Suspect Killed.By Jim Glennon | Jun 29, 2021
In 2004 while I was a lieutenant with 25 years on, I backed up two of my patrol officers on a shoplifting call. A man grabbed a bottle of vodka off the shelf of a liquor store and walked past a store employee who informed him that he would have to stop and pay for the alcohol. He didn’t.
The employee followed the man, took down his license plate number and called the police. A rookie cop named Joe got the call. He ran the plate and found that the owner of the car was a 57-year-old man who had only one arrest on his record. A year earlier he had been nabbed for DUI and shoplifting.
The man lived on the sixth floor of a condo complex. Joe and I along with a 13-year veteran named Jerry rode the elevator to his floor. Upon exiting we turned to our right and then right again and walked down a long hallway. The rookie, Joe, walked just past the condo door. Jerry and I were on the other side. Joe knocked, no answer. Jerry knocked, no answer. I switched places with Jerry, knocked, and issued a veiled threat to the nonresponsive man. Suddenly he opened the door, stuck out a snub-nosed revolver, fired five quick successive shots and slammed the door shut. One of those five rounds struck Jerry in the shoulder and exited near his elbow.
The time between the opening and closing of the door was well under five seconds.
Jerry lived but his wound was career ending. The assailant surrendered a few minutes later.
That is a truncated version of the entire story and I have found at least a dozen training points when the entirety is examined from start to finish. But today, while focusing on the video below, I want to discuss one in particular for the moment that was eerily similar to the encounter the three of us experienced.
How and when do you approach the door of a residence?
After our 2004 incident we debriefed in detail officially. Unofficially, I had multiple conversations with good friends who are all in the business and many who are experienced trainers.
The main question we asked ourselves was: Could we, should we, have made a different approach to the door?
The answer, anyway we asked that same question, was simple: No.
At some point in the investigation someone had to approach that door.
In our case there were three of us. The rookie was past the door and the two veteran officers were against the wall on the other side. We stood to the sides of the door in an effort to avoid getting shot if he fired through it. But still, the door had to be approached. We had to be near it in order to knock and make contact.
In our case, the man opened the door inward. In the video you’re about to watch, the man opened the door outward, pointed the handgun and shot several times.
Here’s the video…
Tragic and terrible. 30-year-old Officer Jimmy Inn was murdered. You can hear his moans after being hit.
He left a family. People who loved him are devastated. Colleagues are in mourning.
From this tragic event, captured graphically on video, are there any training points to discuss?
Points to Ponder
I have to admit when I saw that door open and the gun come out it immediately brought me back to that moment in 2004.
I was closest to the door and the gun was pointed directly at me, so I was the one who actually saw it. The highly intoxicated gunman admitted later that he was aiming for me, but because I pivoted as I screamed, “Gun!” Jerry was hit.
When videos such as these are released, the common practice among the more than a dozen Calibre Press instructors we work with is to offer opinions and consider alternative tactics.
One instructor questioned the downed officer’s solo approach to the door. Why not wait for back-up that is seconds away on a domestic disturbance call? It’s a good point.
Outside of hearing someone inside the residence screaming for help, waiting is really the best option. Two officers, just by the mere multi-officer presence, often changes the mind of people considering resistance or attack.
But not always.
In this scenario, if both officers walked up together would the man behind the door have hesitated? Not likely. This miscreant was hell-bent on murder. A man out of control. A man of evil intent.
There is also the possibility that if both approached, they both could have been hit.
In our 2004 incident we were in a very tight hallway. In this case, the officers were to approach a residence. A home with a yard and a clear path to the street. Would a contact/cover approach been an option? One officer up at the door and the other back 12-15 feet?
Perhaps. But the answers to any tactical considerations are unknowns. Suffice it to say, there are no 100% safe ways, no 100% correct tactics when it comes to this job and dealing with people.
The Choking and the Deadly Decision
As we always say, “expect the unexpected.” This video is a gripping example of the kind of “unexpected” you may encounter.
Outside of the single officer approach consideration, after shooting Officer Inn, the gunman, 30-year-old Lance Lowe, grabbed his 8-year-old young son by the neck, lifted him off the ground and began strangling him. As the young boy was flailing his suspended legs, struggling to breath, a second responding officer, Officer Pancho Freer, arrived. What I just described is what he encountered.
Think about it. His partner is down and Lowe is now murdering his child in full view of the officer.
“I need units Code 3! He’s strangling a kid and my partner is down.”
All this is happening at light speed for Officer Freer.
He needs to make a life-or-death decision. Should he break from the cover of his squad and advance across that open area towards Lowe? While he couldn’t see the man in possession of a gun, Lowe did just shoot Officer Inn and is now strangling a boy.
If Freer waits behind cover the boy could die. If he breaks cover Freer could be shot and the boy still dies.
In this case the decision was rendered moot.
After about 30 seconds of Officer Freer aiming his sidearm at Lowe and ordering him to “Let the kid go!” a neighbor charges in and tackles Lowe, freeing the boy. Immediately after the boy is clear, and the neighbor moves away, Officer Freer runs right up to the suspect and fires his weapon multiple times killing him. Still never seeing a gun.
Good shoot in the moment?
Good shot in the moment?
Think about the shot Freer would have to make from a distance in order to save the boy being strangled.
Trying to shoot Lowe with the flailing boy in front of him could have had horrible consequences. The boy obviously could have been hit.
Can You Take that Shot?
This scenario is a reminder that in addition to training to hit “typical” targets like center mass, you should put effort into training to take and make considerably more challenging shots that require high levels of accuracy. In situations like this one, if a shot presents itself—albeit a difficult shot—you want to be ready to take it.
In 2019 we discussed a situation in Athens, GA where a man with a knife charged one of two officers who had confronted the knife-wielding man on a roadway. After several minutes of orders and the officers backing up more than a block the man charged one of the officers causing him to shoot. After being shot several times, the man gets up, sprints at the other officer who is directly in front of him, grabs him by the neck and pulls him to the ground while pulling at the officer’s holstered gun.
As that officer frantically yells, “He’s going for my gun!!” a second officer fires several shots at the hostage-taker and hits him. [Watch the video.]
Difficult but urgent and necessary shots that required a high level of accuracy and exceptional decision-making abilities under extreme pressure. Shots like this can also come into play in active threat situations where a suspect is in the actual process of killing people and must be immediately distracted from his intended targets in any way possible…and hopefully completely incapacitated. In those situations, any target will do; an elbow you see peaking around a corner, a knee, a shoulder. Whatever you can see and hit immediately.
This is not to say that shots like this are always advisable. Obviously, they’re not. Numerous things need to be quickly taken into consideration before deciding to fire. Things like the true level of urgency of the given situation.
Is someone about to die? What’s the backdrop? What kind of movement/moving target am I up against? What are the odds I’ll hit an innocent victim?
Am I that good of a shot? Have I practiced beyond the standard qualification requirements?
If small-target training isn’t part of your firearms training regime make it so, either departmentally or on your own. And take the time to consider when/then scenarios that will help you practice critical, high-pressure decision making. The effort you put into this can help you avoid the burden of thinking back to an event and saying to yourself, “I only wish I could have taken that shot.”
Thoughts? Insights to add? Let us know! You can e-mail our staff at: [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.