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Bob Parker

Bob Parker

Lt. Robert Parker served with the Omaha (Neb.) PD for 30 years and commanded the Emergency Response Unit. He is responsible for training thousands of law enforcement instructors in NTOA's Patrol Response to Active Shooters courses.

Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Jose Medina

Jose Medina

Officer Jose Medina is an active member of the Piscataway (N.J.) Police Department's SWAT team and runs Awareness Protective Consultants (Team APC) tactical training.

Terror and Tragedy in Turlock

Faced with a deranged man stomping a baby to death, one of your fellow cops did the only that could be done. And you would, too.

June 18, 2008  |  by Robert O'Brien - Also by this author

Shortly after 10 p.m. last Saturday night (June 14) motorists in rural Turlock, Calif., happened upon a sight too horrible to adequately describe.

There, in the darkened roadway, a man was repeatedly bashing, beating, stomping, punching, kicking, and slamming a baby. Witnesses called 911 and tried to stop the brutal attack, only to be repulsed by the attacker. During the attack, the young man was described as “very calm” and talked about “getting the demons out” of the child, all the while  continuing the onslaught. 

One witness estimated that this deranged adult delivered in excess of 100 stomps, kicks, and punches in an attack that lasted at least seven minutes.

At the time of the first 911 calls, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department helicopter happened to be in the sky above Turlock. This air unit responded within six minutes to the frantic citizen reports, along with ground units. From the air above the scene, the helicopter crew (SCSD pilot and Modesto Police Department observer) witnessed the brutal beating as they lit up the man and the toddler with their spotlight.

The pilot made a skillful, night emergency landing as closely as possible in a field. It was a cow pasture separated from the road by a daunting obstacle electrified, barbed wire fencing.
Immediately upon landing, the Modesto officer sprinted 20 yards to the fence – commanding the suspect to cease his brutal attack against the helpless baby. The suspect’s response was to say “I’m not going to prison.” He raised his middle finger to the officer and continued kicking and stomping the baby.

The officer responded with the only option he had left. From a reported 10-foot distance, he shot the suspect in the forehead. The suspect dropped, dead, ending one of the most brutal and horrific attacks imaginable.

EMTs arrived quickly, but it was too late. The toddler was dead, mangled so badly it will take DNA to confirm his identity. However, the suspect’s identity is known, he’s the 27-year-old father of an infant son. And that infant was undoubtedly the victim of the attack. That this happened the night before Father’s Day is almost too sad to mention.

If you’re anything like me, this incident really got your blood boiling. In previous SWAT columns, we’ve discussed first-responder tactics for active shooters. While this atrocity didn’t involve a gun, it was a murder in progress, one that could only be stopped by physically stopping the threat. Which is precisely what the Modesto officer did, within two minutes of arrival on the scene. The actions of this and the other officers on the scene serve as a reminder to all of us that we need to be ready and willing to respond immediately at all times to protect the innocent. This is far more than our job; it’s our sworn duty.

There isn’t a police officer alive who doesn’t understand the ultimate dual responsibility of our profession. To protect and save innocent lives, and when necessary, take the lives of those who place others in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.
When it comes to the innocent—children especially—I don’t know of a single police officer who wouldn’t go to hell and back to save a life. A not so hidden secret of our profession is that children are the vulnerable spot in our “armor.” Even the toughest, most battle-hardened cop is shaken over tragedies involving innocent children and babies.

President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” (1910) quote says it far better than I can. Most of you are familiar with parts of this quote. But I’m going to give it to you again in its entirety.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

I wasn’t there, but I can picture the horrific scene on that farm road in Turlock last weekend. And I stand 100 percent behind these officers, whose unhesitating actions put a decisive end to one of the most brutal, horrific crimes imaginable. That their best efforts were not enough was beyond their control.

In my book, these officers are heroes—upholding the highest traditions of our noble profession—duty and honor. Somewhere up in heaven, there’s a little boy waiting to tell these heroes something: “Thank you.”


Comments (6)

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

LovesLALEOs @ 6/20/2008 8:48 AM

I simply cannot understand how or why the witnesses did not stop him. But then, I wasn't there. Thank God the Modesto officer was there. I am sure the baby was grateful, and will be looking out for his LEO friends below.

mpostava @ 6/20/2008 3:56 PM

The Cops did what was necessary but what about the motorists? Were they too afraid to take physical action against the violent offender or has modern society turned everyone into sheep. Maybe if one of the motorist were armed with a handgun they could have put a stop to the attack but then again this is California. I'm not from California but from what I read & hear the politicians are not the Pro Gun type. America needs to wake up. I agree that at times it is best to call the Police but in this case what might have been saved if one motorist was armed.

irishone @ 6/25/2008 12:45 PM


jfriday240 @ 6/25/2008 2:19 PM

These officers did what everyone of us would have done responding to this type of a call. It is a shame that none of the motorists were able to act... this reminds all of us that sometimes there is justice and sometimes there is just us...

rportillo @ 6/25/2008 2:21 PM

It is a sad commentary when citizens do not react to such violence. I quite sure that the witnesses were afraid of the consequences if they involved themselves in such horror. Kudos to the officer who took action. At least he can say he was a true citizen but also a credit to the uniform he wears. California governement and law enforcement are not eye to eye. Even retired officers who take action in a felony situation are questioned as to why he took action and was he allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Look who is in government and you will know.

auroracop @ 6/25/2008 7:42 PM

I also was not there, but other news reports stated motorist did try to stop this crazed man (google search, Turlock Ca, man kills baby newspaper)( will bring up lots of news reports with witness statements.) You have a crazed man set on beating the demons out of this poor child. 6 1/2 minutes from 1st 911 call to officers arrival and citizens unable to stop this insane killer. Bless the 1st two officers on scene, I'm sure all involved wish they could have done more.

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