At the driver's window, McLane smiled and greeted the man with an explanation for the stop.
Normally, Gottfried was one for poor impulse control, with a battery of narcotics arrests and others to validate the assertion. But tonight, the 48-year-old's demeanor was calm and personable, and the broad smile he extended from beneath a large handlebar mustache matched McLane's.
"How are you doing?" he asked amicably.
Everything about Gottfried's demeanor was so immediately disarming that any reservations McLane had about the driver's delay in pulling over or the man's vigilance of his approach seemed to dissipate.
And it was at that moment that Gottfried swung the barrel of a Glock right at his face.
Kill or Be Killed
McLane's synapses kicked into hyperdrive, his mind asking if the gun was real and just as quickly discounting the possibility it wasn't. With a mere six inches separating his face from the barrel, there wasn't much ambiguity about the threat. Gottfried's finger squeezed the trigger.
McLane didn't know what was more incredible-that the man had tried to kill him, or that he'd failed. A misfire? An empty chamber? McLane had no idea, but he knew he couldn't count on fate or the driver for any second amnesty.
Batting at Gottfried's gun with his left hand, McLane stepped back and to his right, determined to simultaneously put distance between himself and the gun and saddle Gottfried with a more difficult angle to draw a bead from.
As he moved, he saw Gottfried's hands were already manipulating the slide in a desperate bid to rack a round into the Glock's chamber.
McLane wasn't going to allow the man that chance. He drew his own Glock sidearm and fired five rounds, rapid fire.
Darting back for his driver's door, he knew that he didn't want his wife confined to the car if the firefight continued. Pointing at a bank across the street, he wordlessly indicated where he wanted her to take cover. Rhonda didn't hesitate, and moved from the passenger door of the unit and around the rear of the patrol unit for the bank.
McLane dove behind the driver's door of his unit, appreciative of the angle that he'd selected for parking the car and the fact that he had an engine block between himself and the suspect. He then radioed the shooting in.
Verbal commands failed to elicit any response from Gottfried, and once a sufficient number of officers were on scene, they made a tactical approach on Gottfried's vehicle. They found him unconscious. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead two hours later.
Back to Normalcy
McLane's first four rounds of Speer .40 S&W formed a tight grid on the left rear of the driver's compartment window. A fifth round was just to their right as McLane had compensated in anticipation that the driver might slump or dive to his right.
Some have speculated that this incident was a suicide by cop. McLane suspects not.