Early one morning, an off-duty deputy sheriff was on his way to work. He was dressed in his civilian clothes and driving his personal vehicle. It was June 14, 1991 in Los Angeles and the deputy drove southbound on Long Beach Boulevard at about 5:30 a.m.
At 55th Street he stopped for a red light, his attention was drawn to two males that he recognized as gang members by their dress. The two African-American gang members were walking quickly in the direction of his vehicle. Their purposeful approach and demeanor told him that they meant trouble. Unable to proceed through the intersection by cross traffic and blocked by other cars behind him, the deputy felt trapped.
This was an area close to the public housing projects and from his training and experience he knew that street robberies were very common here. He had been told that in an ambush his vehicle could be a confining box rather than offering cover or concealment. He decided he must act quickly or be caught in the kill zone.
Adrenaline pumped through his body, and the incident went into slow motion. The deputy reminded himself to keep cool. Struggling to see the hands of the gang members before the two Pueblo Bishop Bloods could reach the deputy's car, he jumped out and drew his 9mm pistol and pointed it at them.
The two Pueblo Bishops had not counted on this; their other victims had been unarmed and easy prey. But one gang member already had his hand on his pistol. The eyes of the deputy locked with the one suspect whose hands were at his waistline and the deputy sheriff said, "Your choice!"
This was no ordinary victim, the Pueblo Bishops thought. They turned and ran but one gang member drew a pistol and fired at the would-be victim as he ran. The deputy was able to return fire with only one shot as the suspects ran through traffic and into the residential area. Someone called the police and responding units were able to contain the area and subsequently arrested the two Pueblo Bishop Blood gang members.
Four days later, special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) were working a group of 89 Gangster Crips who had been actively running cocaine from Los Angeles to Denver. It was 8:45 p.m. on June 18, 1991 in a parking structure on Vinton Place in Culver City, Calif.
Their investigation had progressed to the point that they intended to arrest two of their 89 Gangster Crip suspects who were in an underground parking structure. All that steel and concrete seemed a good place to make an arrest.
They tacitly approached the two 89th Street gangsters, identified themselves as ATF agents and ordered the suspects to prone out. Realizing he was outflanked, one suspect quickly complied. The second suspect happened to be standing at the rear of his car with the trunk open. He hesitated a second or two and then drew a TEC-9 9mm semi-automatic firearm with a large capacity magazine. Although intended as a semi-automatic pistol, this firearm was easily altered to fire full-auto.
Luckily, this TEC-9 had not yet been altered, but the Crip sprayed rounds at the ATF agents striking one agent in the foot. The wounded agent and two of his team members returned fire with a 9mm pistol and two shotguns. The underground parking structure echoed with the booms and bangs and the air was filled with smoke and ricocheting rounds. The suspect was hit in the shoulder and groin area and fell. The shotguns did their work, but the shooter somehow survived. The "compliant" Crip was also found to be armed. He was carrying a 9mm semi-automatic Ruger pistol.
The ATF agents would later recover a large quantity of rock and powdered cocaine in their search warrants in the 89 Gangster Crip cocaine trafficking case.
Whether on duty or off duty, whether you are a federal agent or a county sheriff, whether intended or unintended, close encounters with Blood and Crip gang members can be very dangerous.