Dedication:This book is dedicated to all my fellow Red Dot Club Members alive, and honored dead. I salute you.
Red Dot Club Definition:This is a very exclusive club. It has very few members in relation to the population of the world. No one wants to be a member, and the mark of the red dot is forced upon those who after receiving it become members. This is the mark made on the human body after being shot.
Taken from Robert Rangel’s personal homemade dictionary.
Introduction:Wyatt Earp and the O.K. Corral.
How many times have we heard the story, seen the movies? To my count there are eighteen movies and films on the O.K. Corral. Why?...I’m not saying it’s not a good story. It is. It is a true event which makes it all the better. But eighteen movies? Again I ask why?
I think it is because it titillates our imagination. What’s it like to be in a gunfight? What were those guys like? Those guys must’ve been really tough, brave, smart, fast and the good was on their side and they won. What a story.
But…you’re missing something.
The here and now. They walk amongst us now. Real day Wyatt Earps.
Yep. I know, ‘cause I know them. You might too and don’t even know it. Some are my friends. Some are acquaintances. Maybe our real life, present Wyatt Earps are even braver and tougher than the original one. You decide.
Maybe the only difference between Wyatt Earp and these men is that you don’t know their stories.
Well I’m going to tell you.
Induction into the Red Dot Club: Robert’s Story
Induction into the Red Dot Club: Robert’s Story
Hayworth Ave. and Norton Ave., West Hollywood CA
I was sitting at the bar with Frank. I really like Frank. He is my kind of man. He has that sarcastic cop sense of humor that I love. He is really smart. I love that too. He sees things when you don’t think he sees them and is brave enough to say them as they really are. This is not popular with society nowadays. I don’t care. I love that too. I’d rather sit with Frank and hear his blunt truthfulness than sit with a bunch of clueless tippy toe people.
Another thing I love about Frank is that he can drink. And that night at the bar he turned to me and said something I’d heard before but always discounted. When he said it I took notice, “You know you are a hero.”
I looked at him, “No Frank. I just had that experience and survived.”
He looked at me and said something else. That something else got me to thinking…
Humph. He got me thinking…
Some months after the event, I was at Sean’s wedding. It had not started yet. I was walking down the aisle of the church when a middle-aged woman came up and started kissing me on the cheeks. “Thank you, thank you.” Kiss. “You saved him.” Another kiss. “You saved my son.” Kiss. “Without you he would be dead.” Kiss, kiss, kiss.
I told her I didn’t do anything. That it was nothing. She would not hear of it and denied me my protestations and continued to kiss me
I write this now, thinking about her, and I get teary eyed. I didn’t tell her, but in the millisecond it happened I thought Sean would die. How can you possibly win a gunfight when someone has a gun to your partners face? In that situation someone is going to die, and that someone that night was Sean because he was the one with the gun to his face.
But I’m getting ahead of the story.
I was assigned to detectives at West Hollywood, but that night I was working overtime. It was a non-detective nighttime plainclothes assignment where we were going to find and arrest street walking male prostitutes.
It was a simple operation. A plainclothes deputy in an unmarked car was to pick up a prostitute and make a deal. After the verbal deal was made our deputy would give us a pre-arranged signal. He would stop the car and we would all swoop in and arrest the prostitute.
Getting ready for the operation, I was in the locker room with Paul. Both of us were always early for our shifts and were mostly alone in the locker room. As I got suited up, which that night consisted of a gun belt on blue jeans, t-shirt, bulletproof vest, and green raid jacket, I looked at Paul. Everyone called him Sweet Pea. He had the nickname before I met him because Paul was always happy and smiling. He was in a perpetual good mood.
But not that night. I looked at Paul and knew something was off. I asked him, “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t feel well,” he answered.
“Shit Paul you look as sweet as ever,” I smiled jokingly and said, “If you feel bad why don’t you go home?”
“I’m not sick Bobby. I just don’t feel good.”
I was perplexed, “What do you mean? I don’t get what you’re saying.”
“I don’t get it either.”
Now just to let you know I can be a bit of a pest when I want to understand something and I don’t get an answer that satisfies me. “Paul what are you talking about? If you feel bad go home, we have enough deputies to handle the operation.”
“Bobby, I don’t want to be here,” he was obviously shaken, nervous. This was way out of character for him. “The last time I felt like this was before a shift in the sixties.”
“I came to work feeling bad. Just like tonight I wasn’t sick but I felt really, and I mean really bad, just like tonight. I didn’t want to be there. I suited up anyway and drove out in my radio car feeling really bad. It is impossible to describe. Midway through the shift I got a call of a man attacking people with an ax at the bus station. When I got to the bus station, there he was chasing and attacking people with an ax. He had chopped a few. He came at me with the ax and I shot him. Killed him. Afterwards the bad feeling went away.”
I looked at Paul, “Dude, I won’t let anything happen to you. I love you Sweet Pea.”
He looked at me and I could see that my reassurances meant nothing to him. He still had that heavy doom overcast look hanging around him.
We all went to work.
After getting briefed and finding our rental cars, which were donated to us by the local rent-a-car agency, we hit the streets. My partner for the night was Sean. He was driving. Sean was fairly new to patrol. He had recently finished his patrol-training phase on the department and was just getting to be accepted and known as a trustworthy fellow deputy. All I knew about Sean was that he had grown up in La Crescenta, a little community tucked away in the hills northeast of Los Angeles. It was known as “the rock,” because the community is built on a dirt hill. But if you dig more than three inches down, all you find is rock, everywhere. The bastard was good looking. The girls loved him. He has a Martin Landau type of look, with those blue eyes and his face sprinkled with light freckles. Just to let you know ladies, he is much better looking than Martin Landau. He is half Mexican and half white, with a huge natural smile and huge white teeth that sparkle. Why couldn’t I be half as good looking as him? He is the guy who when you are sitting in a bar laughing with three girls you just met, he walks in and the women melt into puddles, and ooze over to him. Sean was in his mid-twenties. The bottom line is that I didn’t know Sean well and we were not friends. He was someone I had seen around the station and said hello to. But he had made it through the academy without quitting. Enough said, I trusted him.
I had been assigned to the station now for a little over five years and as I mentioned before, I had just been assigned to detectives. The only reason I was working on this night was as a favor for another deputy named Dennis who had signed up for the overtime spot but had forgotten he had a trip planned with his wife to San Francisco. He begged me to take it. I did so to save his marriage; you know he had forgotten it was his anniversary, (lot of good that did, he ended up divorcing that wife anyway). Sean and Dennis were friends and had planned on working together that night until Dennis realized his stupid mistake no wife would understand.
I had grown up on the west side of Los Angeles near Westwood, two miles from U.C.L.A. Because of this people always assumed I was privileged and came from money. It’s not true. My father put cans on shelves in a market for forty-three years doing what he loved. My mother decided she did not want to have someone else raise her children and worked part time as a maid for the rich in Bel Air. We came from a lower middle class income home, but we were happy. Both of my parents were born in the United States and I grew up in an English-speaking household. I learned Spanish in school, and I speak it fairly well. I didn’t do well in school but came out very close to the top in academics in my Sheriff’s Academy class. It was like this, in high school I pulled a “B” in algebra for my first semester, and then I asked myself, “When will I ever use this?” I shut down and got out with a “D.” Maybe someday I’ll need that algebra, but not yet.
I am one of those tall Mexicans, six feet two and big, not fat, but big. I got tagged the name “Chief” in the Academy. One of my classmates said I looked like the big Indian in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I viewed myself as strong and fearless.
Sean and I found some male prostitutes at the corner of Norton Ave. and Hayworth Ave. We parked in the red zone on the northwest corner of the intersection facing south. A block west, at Norton Ave. and Laurel Ave. were Deputies Willie Robinson and Davis. Davis was driving a rented pickup truck and Robinson was the passenger. Davis parked facing north.
It was midnight June 6, 1991. For you non-history buffs, that is D-Day, the day we invaded Normandy in 1944. It was an ominous date. It was a very, very dark intersection on a very dark night.
Sean and I were sitting in the car looking at all these male prostitutes. I’d just finished talking to a reserve deputy on the radio who was picking up, or trying to pick up the male prostitutes. Just to let you know I am a pretty funny and sarcastic guy, and I had just finished making a funny and sarcastic remark to Sean and he was laughing. We were both laughing.
In describing what happened next I need to grope for the meaning for you. The word “suddenly” is too slow to describe what happened next. “Immediately” is also a bit slow. “In the next instant” is closer but still not accurate. Ever trip and you can’t stop it from happening? Ever been driving and look up, not realizing you were looking down, to see that traffic was stopped? Like that. It was like that. What happened next was that fast.
I first saw the young man in front of our car. When I spotted him he was between the right front headlight and the middle of the bumper, walking toward the left front headlight. He was looking at us through the windshield. I could not see either of his hands. They were together on the right side of his body. So if you are picturing this, the suspect (notice I went from young man to suspect) was walking in front of our car with both of his hands on his right side, shielded from our view. His upper torso was twisted away from us but his head was twisted left and looking at us. What could he possibly be hiding?
He was walking real fast. Not strolling like normal people do when they cross the street; he was walking like he had a purpose. If he were to walk any faster he would be jogging.
I didn’t see what was in his hands but when you put everything all together what do you think was in his hands, a tootsie roll?
By the time I processed what was happening he was at the front left headlight. Maybe, and I mean maybe one second had now gone by. I said something to my partner, like what’s with this guy. Honestly I don’t know what I said because things started to slow down real good by then. I knew I had to get my gun out of my holster. Like I had to get it out yesterday.
What you are about to read next is described over and over throughout the book so I may as well explain it to you now.
I’ll explain stress. Yeah we all have stress. We feel stressed. That’s not what I am talking about. I’m talking about an outpouring of adrenaline to your brain, heart, lungs and muscles. Physiologically what that means is that you think and process information faster than is humanly possible. You become stronger and faster than you ever thought possible. This is known as the flight or fight syndrome. Ever heard of it? Of course. Well I’m going to tell you about it for real. When adrenaline gets dumped into your system your brain goes into overdrive. This is so you can think your way out a situation faster than it is happening and you don’t die. As your thought process speeds up, it is outpacing what is happening in real time. That means time…seems…to…slowwww……dowwwwwn. Makes sense? The bible says we are wonderfully created, and I agree.
This was my third time since being on the job that I was experiencing this phenomenon, and although I wasn’t expecting it, I knew what was happening.
As I pulled my gun out of the holster, I extended my right arm over Sean’s chest, pointing my gun at the asshole (notice I changed to asshole now) who was slowly (at least in my world), turning to face Sean and ended up in a two handed frontal stance with a gun in both hands.
As I was thrusting my gun in front of Sean’s chest I flipped the safety off to shoot. It’s just a little flick of the thumb and takes about as long as typing a letter on a computer keyboard. In my now slowed down surreal state, I could have counted off twenty seconds while my thumb did its job. Although I knew what was happening physiologically, I also knew there was not a millisecond to spare. I was mad at my thumb for not getting the safety off faster.
From the time I first saw the asshole to this point was no more than three or four seconds.
When I initially thrust my gun in front of Sean, he had not picked up there was a problem. He was still laughing. But in my world there was nothing but getting my gun pointed at the suspect. To me things were happening in hours, but the reality was that it was milliseconds. And as I pointed my gun over Sean’s chest I saw him slowly follow my hand. I then saw him look to his left. Obviously he had seen the movement of the suspect. Somewhere in this time period Sean had stopped laughing. When Sean turned his head left, he was facing this predator’s gun. Point blank. Face to gun. It was a very nasty situation.
I had thoughts going through my head after the suspect got to Sean’s door. I realized very calmly that if we got out of the car this criminal would realize we were cops by our telltale Sheriff’s raid jackets and gun belts. He would shoot Sean who still had his gun in his holster. What choice did the suspect have? Although I had my gun out, I would not have been able to get out of the car and shoot and protect Sean. I knew either way, Sean was going to be shot, and possibly me too. I decided that if Sean was going to be shot, I was going to make the suspect pay; I was going to shoot him hard!
Of course this thought process took place within the time after the asshole turned and faced Sean and till the time it took him to get his gun in Sean’s face. In real time it was just a millisecond, but it was a long time to me. Enough time to go through all the above thought processes.
Weighing options time was now over, I started shooting while Sean was face to face with the gun. Muzzle flash is exploding gunpowder, which is actual fire coming out of the barrel of the gun. If you look at it in real, non-adrenaline time the flash is just that. A very quick flash. Here and gone in the blink of an eye.
In my altered state, each muzzle flash, if I were to count them took a minute to complete. It was a slowly expanding ball of flame getting larger and larger. At its apex the flame hung in the air, then slowly diminished to nothingness. Each bullet fired was a minute.
One bullet. Sean moved his upper torso to my lap, desperately twisting his face to the right as he did so, getting away from the gun in his face, (I guess he didn’t want to see it coming).
When I shot, the suspect reacted almost simultaneously and shot back. But my first bullet was true and hit him in the lower abdomen. He shot just a millisecond after I hit him, but my bullet had done the trick. It had given us just a little edge, not much, but just a little wiggle room. My bullet buckled him a bit. This threw his aim off and he shot low and into the outside of the car’s door handle. I shot again. And hit him again. He shot again. This time his bullet hit the outside of the door and went into the inner working of the window crank, which stopped the round. Honestly I didn’t know if Sean had been hit when he went into my lap.
I shot him three more times, stitching him up his torso as he was going down. Each shot was taking about a minute to complete. Weird because my brain was wondering and yet understanding why each bullet was taking so long to get out. I was winning the fight that moments before I thought would be impossible to win.
I heard firecrackers behind me outside of the passenger car window.
I thought that’s weird, why would anyone be lighting firecrackers right behind my head?
A bullet slammed into me. From behind.
Fuck me. I thought, “I am so fucked. I’m getting shot from behind. How do I shoot both guys at once?”
I was ambushed. When the first bullet struck me it did so in the top back of my deltoid. The round entered the top of my shoulder and lodged itself in the top of my humerus. The upper arm bone. Right in the joint.
This happened while I was shooting the suspect outside of the driver’s door.
“Oh Robert,” people often ask me, “Did you know you got shot when it happened?”
Oh yeah I knew. Would you know if someone was trying to pull your arm out of its socket? Well that’s what it felt like. Imagine someone pulling your arm out of its socket. I mean that’s what it felt like after the feeling of getting hit by a baseball bat. Between that bullet and the second bullet I had many different, separate, although somewhat connected thoughts. “He’s got me,” I thought, “There’s nothing I can do. He’ll aim a little higher and shoot me in the back of the head, (in the ghetto this is known as getting shot in the back of the fo’head). I thought, ‘It won’t be so bad. The first one went in really fast. I won’t even feel a thing. It will be lights out. No biggie. Here it comes. I’m going to die.’ What’s weird is that I should have been afraid. I wasn’t. It was not fear, but acceptance of the situation as it was. I knew I couldn’t win. I was trying to figure out how to shoot the guy at the driver’s door, and at the same time shoot the guy behind me, and I was still physically shooting.
It was an impossible set of circumstance. I was focused on shooting the guy at the door. But at the same time if this makes sense, which it cannot, I was not focused because I was trying to figure out how to shoot the guy behind me. I was in serious pain, and furiously and desperately trying to figure out how to win. My mind was furiously trying to find a solution. I knew I was going to die. I thought Sean was possibly shot or dying or dead. I was out of options. I had nothing to lose. I was all of a sudden very, very sad. I wished that my kids and wife and mom and dad could understand that I hadn’t suffered when I got killed. I didn’t want them to be sad. I just wished I could tell them it was okay, that it was not so bad, but I knew I wouldn’t have that chance. That made me so sad. Then the second bullet hit me in my bulletproof vest, right at the lower part of my right scapula. When it struck me I thought, “Fuck these guys.” I was still shooting, and the bullets hitting me were throwing my aim off, and I said to myself again with a little happy outlook, “Fuck these guys. I’m going to kill them both!” I knew I was going to die, but I was going to kill both of these guys anyway. I know it sounds weird, but I went from full acceptance of death, to deep sadness to happy, like it was a little joke, to unbelievable outrage. All in a millisecond. I was just beginning to fight, and I was ready to fight to the death. The word outrage is a complete understatement of what I felt. The word to describe how completely out of my mind angry I was has not yet been invented.
During all the mayhem my mind blanked out because I completely lost track of what was happening for a couple of milliseconds.
I didn’t realize Sean was now out of my lap and had his gun drawn. I want everyone to understand how brave this was. Sean just had a gun to his face. He had just heard gunshots firing off at point blank range but he still made a conscious decision to fight. To expose his head and fight. To come out of a place of relative safety and expose himself to mortal danger and fight was beyond brave. I use the word brave but I feel it is an understatement. I wish there was a better word for it. If you think I don’t have the utmost respect for his decision you are sadly mistaken.
Bad news, the suspect at the driver’s door was running. I couldn’t believe it. Oh I knew I had hit him, and numerous times too. How could he be running? I was having a dream, but it was real. It was a dream where you know it’s just a dream and can’t be happening, but it’s happening anyway.
Good news. Sean was having none of it. The guy I had just stitched with bullets still had his gun in his hand. Real good news. The fact that he still had a gun in his hand meant he was still a threat and was therefore very shootable. Sean had a perfect target. The suspect was running from the car in a straight line perpendicular from Sean. Sean was banging bullets at him. I leaned over Sean’s right ear and shot out of the window. Sean and I were both shooting at this piece of shit. He screamed and went down in the middle of the street.
I gotta tell you, my fucking arm, or I should say shoulder was screaming at me. The feeling of it being yanked out was intensifying.
As soon as Sean’s suspect went down screaming, I screamed, “NOW YOU YOU SON OF A BITCH!!” I heaved my chest up and out, and thrust my upper body forward, thereby throwing my arm out of the passenger side window to shoot at the guy trying to kill me. This was the only way to get my gun on target. My arm wasn’t working on its own. It needed the rest of my body to help it.
The coward was running. I took one shot at him. When I shot, he went forward stumbling. I thought I hit him but I wasn’t sure because he stumbled around the corner of a five-foot planter box and I lost sight of him.
Still out of my mind with rage I desperately searched for the door handle. I was going to chase this asshole that had tried to kill me! But I had a problem. When I went to reach for the door handle I couldn’t find it. Things were now in normal speed. And I was blind. This has had happened to me before, (other shootings at night). Let me explain. Remember the muzzle flash? Let me ask you, what happens when it is pitch black and someone shines a light in your eyes and then turns it off?
You can’t see right? Maybe some red, blue or green spots every time you blink? I was literally blind. I was groping methodically feeling the inside of the passenger door panel to find the handle and for the life of me I couldn’t find it. Outraged like never before I wanted to catch the guy who shot me!!!
I sat there stupid as a dead rabbit. Blind as a dead horse. Impotent. Sean had left our car and was in the middle of the street. He was standing over his now down, crying, hopefully dying, big brave man.
Sean ran back to our car. “I don’t have my handcuffs.” I gave him mine. He looked at me. “Are you alright?”
“No, I’m shot!’
He laughed hysterically and said, “I can’t hear a fucking thing!” He ran off laughing back to the suspect to handcuff him.
Time was back to normal now.
I grabbed my radio to put out a call for help and I couldn’t see as much as I felt the microphone push button. It was a walkie talkie type radio with several different buttons and switches that changed to whom you were talking. I put out a request to have the air clear and that I had emergency traffic. “10-33.” No response. I got no response. Our radio communication center should have come back with, “10-33 traffic go”, or “10-33 traffic go ahead.” That would have told me that they had informed all units to shut up and that I needed to broadcast. After what seemed like an eternity, one of the sergeants finally said, “Go ahead Bobby.”
I then realized my hand held radio was on a radio to radio frequency and not on a radio to Sheriff’s Radio Control (SRC) frequency. So instead of telling the sergeant what had just happened, like I should have done, I fumbled with the radio and tried to figure out how to change the frequency so I could talk directly to SRC. That was a hassle, I couldn’t see the numbers and letters on the radio. I was still blind. Finally I got on the right frequency, “10-33.” I got my response, “10-33 traffic go ahead.”
I was thinking stay calm when you speak so they can hear and understand you. “999, I’ve been shot. Norton…Norton…Norton,” I pleaded. I had already fucked up the broadcast. I could not for the life of me remember the second street, “Hayworth Ave.” I just kept saying “Norton,” the first street of the intersection I was on. The first thing you should do is tell SRC what station or unit you are. This tells them what station to focus their next broadcast to. This is so they’re not sending a broadcast to a station a 100 miles away to help you. The next thing you should tell them after your station is what unit you are. Then your location and what happened. What happened next is that SRC asked me to identify myself. Of course. The problem is that I didn’t know who I was. This was an overtime spot remember? I had been assigned some funky unit identifier like 92FB1. It was not a normal unit identifier that we used. They were all different unit numbers used just that night for that operation. I should have just said “West Hollywood.” Then she would have known what station to send the information out to. I got my In Service roster out. This is a list of all the units on duty on that shift. I started looking at the paper to see who I was. But I couldn’t see the paper. I was still blind. I was really worried about where the bullet went. So here I was sitting in the car, trying to broadcast, fumbling with the buttons on the radio, talking to SRC, she was talking to me, asking me to identify myself. I was trying to read the paper, blinking furiously in the dark with these spots in my eyes. I still had my gun in my hand with the hammer back ready to shoot if the second suspect came back. She finally explained it to me, “I need you to identify yourself.” At the same time I finally read the paper and did it right, “West Hollywood 92FB1, I’ve been capped, Norton and Hayworth Ave. Give me the patch.” I finished up the broadcast giving a description and last seen direction of the shooter.
I started wondering if I was bleeding to death, or if the bullet went through major arteries or my heart. Those thoughts scared the shit out of me and I shoved them out of my mind. I decided to feel good about the pain I had, and that it was isolated to my shoulder and back. I sung to myself, “Boy, that was close…the bad man almost got me,” and I laughed.
I finally got the door open and got out of the car.
Deputy Robinson ran up. Remember he had been a block away with Davis? Robinson looked at me, “Bobby. What the hell happened? I heard the shooting!”
“I’m shot Will,” I said. I was reassured by Robinson’s presence. Former-Marine. Six foot three inches of pure muscle, sinew and kindness with 22-inch arms.
“Where the hell is Jimmy,” (Davis), I asked?
I was still a little high on adrenaline and was kind of pacing around.
It turned out that Robinson, who was running on the south side of the street, eastbound to help me, passed the guy who shot me, while he was running west on the north side of the street. God help the bastard had Robinson gotten a hold of him.
It seemed that Davis, in his attempts to turn his rental car around to get to me to help me, crashed into a few parked cars. Robinson finally had enough of it and just sprinted over.
Robinson said, “Sit down Bobby,” and pointed to an abandoned sofa sitting on its side in the front yard of an apartment building. He said, “You’re okay, remember you’re the big Indian who can,” and smiled that smile of his that everyone loves. He put me at ease. “Does it hurt?”
“Yeah Will it does.”
By now helicopters, Sheriff’s cars, fire engines and paramedics were on scene. They hooked me up to some saline solution and asked me to hold the bag. So there I sat with my shirt tucked in my jeans, but it was cut to ribbons and hanging down around my waist like some hula dress. I was topless, sitting on an upended discarded sofa and holding the saline solution bag connected to me with a needle. Deputies, my friends, kept coming over to me. They looked at me and then looked at my Red Dots. Then they looked at me again, “Bobby does it hurt?”
“Yeah, it hurts a lot. Why?”
“Because you’re just sitting there holding the bag, like nothing is wrong.”
“No it hurts.”
This happened about three times, very weird. The same looks, the same questions, my same responses. The fourth time I kind’a lost it, “Yeah it fucking hurts man, what do you think?” I was smiling though when I said it, I was only half serious. I walked into the ambulance when they were ready for me.
The man who had put a gun to Sean’s face was lying in the middle of the street screaming, moaning and whimpering. At times he was crying, especially when the paramedics were moving him around cutting his clothes off to work on him to save his life. I guess it hurt.
If I sound callous you bet I am.
It turns out the evil scum lying in the street was a gang member. He had been out of prison two weeks at the time Sean and I met him. Why had he been in prison? For robbery. Robbery is defined as the taking of another person’s property from them by means of force or fear. Guess what the subsequent investigation showed. That he and the guy who shot me, wanted to steal our car, oh sorry, rob us of our car so they could use it in a drive by shooting on a neighboring gang. See if they took our car, and if anyone got the license plate it would show up as stolen and could not be traced back to them. It seems they had a car a block away with AK 47s to use in the drive by.
It must have been a busy Saturday evening. They couldn’t come up with two ambulances. The sergeants at the scene were worried that the suspect might die. What would the press say if they let a poor down trodden man die in the street after some bloodthirsty deputy shot him? Then again they couldn’t be sure that I might not be bleeding out.
They had to make a decision and they did. Send them both in the same ambulance. So they sent the suspect and I in the same one. He was lying in a gurney in the back with Sweat Pea watching him and I was sitting in the front seat. An ambulance attendant and a Los Angeles County Fire Paramedic were also in the rear of the ambulance with the suspect.
On the ride over we would hit little bumps in the road. The suspect would groan. I was so enraged that I started yelling at him, “DIE MOTHERFUCKER!! YOUR’RE DYING. DOES IT HURT? GOOD? I HOPE IT HURTS? YOU KNOW YOU’RE DYING? FUCKING DIE!!” This went on two or three times. It was a good thing I didn’t have a gun on me or I’m sure I would have killed him. The ambulance driver, Sweat Pea, the paramedic, and the ambulance attendant were completely quiet when I went on the tirades. They looked panicked as to what I would do.
As I was lying in the hospital bed, Paul came up to me with a huge smile. Just like the Sweet Pea I knew. “Hey Bobby. I told you I had a bad feeling. Hahaha,” He was standing over me laughing, “But it’s gone now. Everything is okay.” And off he went chuckling.
I got shot and everything was okay?
Later, Dennis wrote on my get-well card, “Thanks for taking my overtime ‘SHOT!!’
Fucking cops. You gotta love em.
I spent about three hours in the hospital. They x-rayed my shoulder. My doctor, (the same doctor who had previously fixed my knee), gave me a hug and said, “God loves you.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because the bullet burrowed in your upper arm bone, your humerus. Robert no bones shattered. It missed your scapula. I just can’t believe it. Nothing is broken or shattered. Do you understand that God really loves you?” He couldn’t believe it. He said only God could have put the bullet in my shoulder where it was and not damage my arm and shoulder. As he was walking away, I heard him tell a nurse, “That guy is a real hero.”
I got a little Band-Aid over my red dot and went home. I took an aspirin and went to bed.
Several months later I was sitting at my desk in detectives. It was fairly common that the firefighters would come through the station. I looked up from my desk and there stood a six foot five firefighter. I smiled and said hello. He smiled back and said hello. I went back to work. I wrote a little on a report and noticed he didn’t move. He was just standing there. I looked up again and he asked me, “You don’t remember me do you?”
“No,” I answered.
“You don’t remember that night?”
“I was there.”
“Where,” I asked?
“The night you got shot.”
I looked him in the eye. “Were you in the ambulance?”
He nodded his head yes.
He spoke, “You were pretty angry.”
Now I nodded my head yes.
“If you could have you would have killed him wouldn’t you?”
Again I nodded my head yes.
“Are you okay?”
I was scheduled to have surgery to have the doctor look inside my shoulder to see what the bullet was doing to the joint. It felt like it was scraping around the cartilage. I answered, “I’m good.”
He said, “Cool.” and left.
I want to vomit when I hear the news calling some sports figure a hero. I want to vomit when our citizens place and honor these sports figures above those who truly make a difference day after day and night after night. Why are they called heroes? Because they put a ball in a hoop? Or put a ball in a hole in the ground? Or because they outran everybody else? What a bunch of shit. They cheapen the word and devalue the meaning of who heroes really are. I know so many who willingly go into a house where they know a man with a gun is waiting for them. Risking everything. Real life danger, not pre-planned scenarios where someone accomplishes some feat, but alive and active scenarios where lives are lost.
I don’t and didn’t consider myself a hero. A hero, in my opinion is someone who purposely makes a decision to risk it all knowing he could die. I made a decision to fight and I had resigned myself to the fact that Sean would die and I couldn’t save him. I knew we couldn’t get out of the car. I had no other choice but to do what I did and I made a decision there would be violent consequences to those who brought war to us. And it was done decisively, desperately, and with all possible extreme violence. We both survived. You think we were just lucky? No. Our actions that night saved our lives, and we acted bravely, without flinching against overwhelming and impossible odds, both of us. But it doesn’t make us heroes. We were thrust into a situation against our will and won.
I am glad though that if there was someone that was going to get robbed that night, it was us. I often think of the unprotected citizens who these animals prey on. Wives, children, innocent people who have done no wrong. The little six-year-old girl riding her bicycle who gets shot a half-mile away from a just occurred drive by shooting. A little boy of three sitting on his porch with his parents and getting shot playing with his G.I. Joe action figure. You think I speak from fantasies or stories I’ve read in the newspaper? No, I speak from experience. It is not some far removed fantasy. These occurrences hurt me more than me being made a member of the Red Dot Club. I chose to put myself in harm’s way. It was the life I chose. The innocents do not.
We saved someone else from being victimized that night and who knows who else in the future. I am very, very proud of that.
I loved it when Sean asked me if I was okay, and then laughed hysterically when I told him I was shot. He couldn’t hear me because I had shot right next to his left ear as he turned away from the convict, and then again over his right ear when he was shooting out of the window. Both ears blasted. When he laughed it was like he was laughing at death and standing up to it and saying, “Fuck you!!”
It’s like I told Frank, I had the experience and survived. But Frank made another statement that night in the bar that I didn’t tell you. It’s the one that got me to thinking. “Bobby,” he said, “You and I know that many could not have done what you did.”
Would others have done the same? Would or could Wyatt Earp have?
If the media had really done a story on this piece, the guy who put a gun to Sean’s face would have been depicted as a 12-year-old boy on a bicycle. The media would have asked how two deputies could have shot him, a nice young man, a football star who tutored kids.
He got 14 years to life for his second convicted felony, this time using a gun. That meant he had to do 14 years before he could even be considered to for parole.
He was out in seven.
I shot seven times, Sean shot six. The convict shot two times, (I think he would’ve shot more but he was busy trying to figure out what went wrong, why it hurt, and how to get away). I took two bullets from behind. I’m not sure how many shots the guy behind me fired, it sounded like five or six. But at a minimum it was the two that hit me. That’s at least a total of seventeen bullets, maybe more. The gunfight lasted, according to Robinson, from the first shot to the last, no more than five seconds.
The guy who shot me got away, never to be seen again. Oh I’m sorry he was seen again. You see we could have caught him. But we didn’t. When he ran, he only went one block west to Laurel Ave. He hid behind an apartment complex trash dumpster. Our dog search, (K-9), started searching too far away. By the time the dog got to Laurel Ave. the dog was too exhausted to continue.
But that’s not why we didn’t catch the guy. We still could have caught him. I just told you we saw him again. I’m sorry it wasn’t us, it was a neighbor. A neighbor saw all the police activity and looked out of his window to see what all the excitement was about. When he looked out, he saw the guy hiding behind the trash dumpsters. After the deputies left, several hours later, the suspect just got up and walked away. He saw that too. The neighbor called the station the next day and told the deputy that he had seen a short male Hispanic hiding behind the dumpster.
I don’t care, the courts would’ve just let him out in a couple of years anyway.