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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Gaston County, N.C. 07/06/2009

Called to a run-of-the-mill breaking and entering, three North Carolina officers confronted a monster.

January 31, 2010  |  by - Also by this author

Electricity had not yet been restored to the residence, and the darkness only added to the surreal atmosphere of the scene. Shaw knocked again, this time garnering the sound of someone stumbling around inside.

The door opened and Mark Stamey answered. Shaw asked, "Where's your big friend?"

"He's asleep out on the couch," Stamey replied, stepping aside to allow the officers in.

As the officers entered the house, their flashlights swept the living room. Shaw saw the larger male lying on a couch to the right of the front door.

They presumed Patrick Burris was lying on his right side, facing the back of the sofa away from them. Shaw said, "Sir, wake up. We need to talk to you."

No response. Again Shaw spoke.

"Sir, we need to speak with you," Shaw demanded. "You need to get up."

But the man just grunted in what sounded like a drunken stupor.

Shaw and Kuzia approached the couch. Drawing closer, they noticed that both of the man's hands were hidden beneath a pillow.

"Sir, let me see your hands," Shaw commanded. "Show me your hands."

Nothing to Lose

None of the officers knew just how dangerous Burris was. But in fact, the man they confronted was the serial killer they'd speculated about earlier in the day.

During the course of the preceding week, Burris had shot and killed five people in and around Gaffney, S.C., during an inexplicable killing spree. The killings were national news. They had paralyzed Gaffney and terrorized its citizens. The Gaffney serial killer was the most wanted man in the Southeast.

Now, he lay on the sofa with his back to the officers, one more violent plan in mind.

Burris pulled his balled up left hand out from under the pillow. Shaw angled to see the man's right hand, but still couldn't.

"Show me your hands," Shaw demanded a third time, drawing his Heckler & Koch .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

The officers slowly moved up on Burris, within range for Kuzia to deploy the TASER that he held pointed at the man.

That was when Burris made his move.

He Shot Me

Burris reached over his body with his right hand and blindly fired a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun.

As Burris reached around, Shaw tried to deflect the gun with the flashlight in his left hand. But hearing the shot, he jumped back, landing on his backside about seven feet away from Burris.

With Burris' movement, Kuzia activated the TASER. Shaw saw the leads attach to the suspect's body.


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