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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Oakland, California 08/27/2010

Fremont, Calif., police officer Todd Young and his partner's pursuit of an armed and dangerous gang member led to an exchange of pistol fire that seriously wounded Young.

June 13, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

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The sidewalk where Oakland officers performed trauma care on Officer Young. Photo: Alameda County D.A.
The sidewalk where Oakland officers performed trauma care on Officer Young. Photo: Alameda County D.A.

"We're taking you," he said, and with that Young was loaded into a patrol car and transported to the hospital.


The ensuing ride was a wild one, one that scared Young more than the shooting. As the car rocked back and forth with each hairpin turn, an Oakland officer used gauze to put direct pressure on Young's wound.

As Young lay in the back of the patrol unit, he seethed. Pissed off that he'd gotten shot, he was even angrier that he hadn't been able to return the favor to his assailant. That and the fact that the man had apparently made good his escape.

Still, he was a good less worried than he thought he would have been. Just getting loaded into the car had been a lift in more ways than one. The sight of an assembled trauma team in the Highland Hospital ER parking lot dissipated any anxieties that much further.

A doctor took Young's vitals and showed him where the bullet entry and exit wounds were. Initially, doctors estimated that Young would be out of the hospital in two hours.

But during a CT scan he began hemorrhaging and they soon found that his body was very nearly depleted of blood: His iliac artery had been hit.

Doctors saved Young’s life. But the road to recovery Young would face would be as steep as it would be long.

The Shooter

Barrientos made good his escape—for a day. One reason that Barrientos was able to evade capture even that long was that he'd worn a white hoodie beneath his black hoodie, a common practice among gang members.

He discarded the first hoodie after dumping a car that he'd stolen in a carjacking seconds after the shoot-out. Investigators looked in nearby garbage cans and found the hoodie that matched the one he had been wearing. The DNA on the garment belonged to Barrientos. The hoodie had one bullet hole in it.

After fleeing to Southern California, Barrientos was arrested by a San Diego police sergeant near the Mexican border a day following the shooting. He was ultimately convicted of attempted murder and nine other felonies and sentenced to life in prison.

Young and Tang have since discussed their frustration in not being able to take the man down.

"Because I had failed to take him down, two additional people got shot at [during subsequent carjack attempts]. That really bothered me. I felt that I hadn’t done my job," Young says.

Even so, with rounds bouncing off of a wrought iron fence to his right and cars to his left, and limited ammunition in his magazine, Young believes there wasn't much else he and Tang could have done.

"I was trying to pick up my front sights on every shot," recalls Young. "But cops can have a hard time just hitting a stationary target. It’s that much harder trying to hit something when it's moving, you’re moving, and you've been shot. I knew he got lucky with that first shot. He didn’t kick my ass. I didn’t feel like I lost the gunfight. It was like the guy who sucker punches you and runs away. He didn’t stand his ground. But I feel terrible that I was trying to shoot this guy and put him down, but he got away."

Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

steve graham @ 6/14/2012 11:39 AM

Man don't beat youself up. All things considered you did an outstanding job. I'm retired military with time in combat and combat pistol and rifle instructor and I understand the stress of that situation, job well done and hang in there Partner. Great story, Thanks

Random @ 6/14/2012 3:02 PM

Sorry to hear you had some trouble. You are appreciated for your respectful attitude and professional behavior.

TripWire @ 6/14/2012 3:16 PM

Your story is as uplifting and encouraging as it is tragic. I was wounded in Afghanistan while on routine patrol and had to fight on for 30 mins. The docs said that the only reason that I survived was because I was so pissed off that I got shot. For me, the rehab was worse than getting hit, my therapist was worse than a drill sergeant. Stories like yours are what keeps us all going on man, keep up the fight.

Lt Dan @ 6/14/2012 5:52 PM

Its really tough getting a bead on a bobbing moving target, I've tried and it ain't like training or the movies! Its a natural process to second guess yourself, don't let it eat you up. If you run into another situation you'll have some additional knowledge you didn't have before.
Look at it as a learning experience. :-) Glad to hear you're recovered and back on the job.

As far as waiting for EMS, forget it. Pile into a squad car and GO!! You'll die waiting for EMS.

Sgtfriday @ 6/15/2012 5:58 AM

Sounds like they did what they had to. Glad he survived!

DEADMAN @ 6/17/2012 12:38 PM

We all second guess ourselves,especially when one of the bad guys get away,albeit only for a short time.There can also be things in the scenario that we didn't count on or figure into the equation but the important thing that matters the most was that with your survival mode working in high gear,you were able to survive and go home to your family and hold them against you,for all its worth.Glad you're on the road to a full recovery,the bad guy is in prison for life and that you still have a positive attitude.i hope you can be able to use this to help other officers in their futures,it's important that they get the information that you have to offer.
Good Luck & God Bless

Lefko @ 9/6/2012 9:54 PM

Nice work sheepdog. Way to stay with it and not give up. Thanks for your story and inspiring all of us out here. (from a northern calif copper).

eurik soto @ 9/21/2012 8:45 PM

wow amazing story, cant wait till i get through the academy and finally be an officer and get to do this.

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