From its inception in the early 1990s, the Fort Worth Police Department's Weed and Seed Team had but one mission: incarcerate criminals that plague the Nashville East Side Sector while facilitating the assimilation of more desirable citizens. In other words, "weed" the bad guys; and "seed" the good ones.
While their mission may have been singularly defined, the crimes they targeted were varied. Yet those crimes often involved the same people. Dope dealing, a burglary, an armed robbery often involved the same scumbag.
Such was the case in early November 1994, when a problem was brought to the team's attention: local drug dealers were supplementing their already illicit income by extorting area school children.
The Weed and Seed Team went to work, conducting a surveillance operation as the drug dealing predators indulged their sense of sociopathic entitlement by stealing lunch money from kids.
But hooking up the dirtbags was one thing; putting them away for long stretches would be another. So the team brought in an undercover narcotics officer who on different days made two buys from the dealer, enough to get a signed search warrant.
And on November 9, directly across from the Maude I. Logan Elementary School that the suspects exploited, a large van pulled up and parked outside 2221 Dillard Street to serve the warrant.
The target location was a small square house with a living room, a kitchen, three bedrooms, and one recessed bathroom. As the van's cargo bay door slid open, a squad of officers spilled out in front of the house. Four headed for the front door, search warrant in tow.
Officer Billie Daniels and Officer Rudy Johnson were with Teams 1 and 2, two of an eight-officer complement deployed at the location. Two catch teams set up on the front, two more to the rear, with an FBI agent (the program was federally funded) in the front of the house with the breach man.
Within seconds of their arrival, the breach man hit the door and the teams streamed inside. Daniels and Johnson targeted the room furthest inside the house.
The two men had worked together for five years, having known one another even longer from the days when Daniels had informally mentored the fresh-from-the-academy Johnson.
Each was a star athlete in school, with Daniels having been a Second Team All-American in football. Neither was shorter than six-foot, two-inches. And while he weighed less than Daniels, the bodybuilding Johnson was a formidable force, as well.
Despite his size, Daniels prided himself in relying on his interpersonal skills to get him home at the end of the day. Not that he was afraid to mix it up when necessary. If someone was going to pick a fight with him, he'd take the fight to them.
As he crossed the threshold of the front door, Daniels had no idea that the battle he'd soon be fighting would be for his life.
The officers made their way through the house, each team veering off into their assigned room, their entries preceded by the announcement, "Police! Search warrant!"
Everyone who was ordered to get on the floor did so.
But when Daniels and Johnson reached their target room, each immediately noticed that the offset door prevented them a clear visual of the room beyond. Daniels was about to angle for a look inside the room when an elderly man suddenly charged out, running headlong into the blindsided Daniels, knocking his gun hand in the direction of his partner, Johnson. Daniels felt a split-second of relief, having conscientiously kept his finger off the trigger to prevent an accidental discharge.
Daniels dealt with the elderly interloper at the doorway, then he observed a second man seated atop a bed inside the room. The young man's eyes were fixed on the two officers, but his hand gravitated elsewhere, searching blindly for something that was behind him.
Daniels didn't want the man to reach for anything other than the sky. He shoved the geriatric facedown to the floor with his gun hand, then looked up and saw the man on the bed raising a .380 semi-automatic.
Darkness Closing In
Since his academy days, Daniels was acutely aware of the inherent dangers of standing in a doorway. So his reaction to the threat was swift. Yelling, "Gun!" he pushed Johnson out of the death portal just as the suspect opened fire.
Daniels saw Johnson collapse, then felt his own legs give out from under him. As bullets peppered the walls around them, the two officers lay on the floor. They'd both been hit.
An enveloping darkness had settled on the outer periphery of Daniels' vision. He knew he'd been hurt—bad—but he also knew that the suspect wasn't apt to back down and reconsider having taken shots at officers.
The darkness closed in on him, but despite his wounds, Daniels pushed himself up to a seated firing position. Propped up by his weak hand, Daniels raised his .357 Smith & Wesson revolver for some one-handed point shooting. As the suspect jumped about indecisively on the bed, Daniels squeezed off a round.
With his second round, Daniels found himself feeling dizzy…sleepy.