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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Mission Viejo, California 03/09/2008

Two Orange County deputies stood between a mall robber and his desperate bid for freedom.

October 31, 2010  |  by - Also by this author

This is for Real

The two deputies sprinted up the stairs as still more screams of terrified mall patrons echoed throughout the parking structure. Olszynski couldn't tell whether or not the suspect was trying to drag off one of the possible hostages, but he was determined to keep these people from coming to harm.

Cresting the top of the stairs, the two lawmen found a couple pointing in the direction of the suspect. But just as their heads popped over the stairwell's railing for a look, the suspect cranked off a round in their direction. Olszynski peered in the direction of the gunfire in time to see the suspect disappear behind a row of cars.

This is for real, Olszynski thought. Today was no role play, with no patrol school monitors to announce, "OK, scenario's over." In the seconds that followed, people could get killed-his partner and himself among them.

Olszynski and Lewellyn quickly entered the upstairs level of the parking structure in a bid to get a bearing on the suspect.

Locking the stock of his Remington 870 shotgun against his shoulder, Olszynski stepped into the parking structure. He started to clear row by row of parked cars, advancing as quickly as his twin desires of officer safety and corralling the gunman would allow. He hoped to prevent the suspect from running out of the parking structure and onto the road below where a whole nest of new of problems would present themselves.

Dep. Lewellyn was paralleling Olszynski on the adjacent aisle. They'd advanced a few cars when Olszynski heard Lewellyn's voice.

"Drop the gun!" Lewellyn yelled. "Drop the gun!"

The suspect popped out from behind a pillar at the end of the parking row. The man was aiming a handgun in the direction of Lewellyn's voice.

Backing from the front end of a parked car, the suspect rounded a windshield and came within full view of Olszynski. Glancing over, the suspect became aware of Olszynski and turned to face him. Only 15 feet separated the two men.

The man swung his gun in Olszynski's direction.

Olszynski opened fire with the pump-action shotgun, discharging multiple Federal 00 buck shells, each of which contained nine pellets.

The deputy had expected such firepower would have dropped the man where he stood. But the man didn't flinch, and despite their proximity, an improbable and scary thought occurred to Olszynski: Am I missing him?

With each blast, Olszynski rechambered and squeezed off another. With the fourth shot he saw a red plume come off the suspect's body and realized that his rounds had found their target. Yet the man still advanced, half-circling toward him. By the time Olszynski's Remington ran dry, the suspect had closed the gap between them to about seven feet.

Dropping the shotgun, Olszynski transitioned to his sidearm. As he did, the man dropped to his knees before him.

"I give up."

With those words, Kirk Knight fell to the ground and rolled onto his back. Olszynski moved his gun away and told him not to move. Maintaining his sidearm on him, Olszynski watched as Lewellyn flipped the man over and handcuffed him. After conducting a quick but thorough search of Knight for any additional weapons, Lewellyn tried to radio for medics.

But radio traffic of responding units was tying up the radio, delaying the request for about a minute. Seeing some movement by a minivan a few rows away and near where the suspect had been trying to run, Olszynski walked over to investigate. On the ground huddled a mom, dad, and their child, crying.

Radio traffic or not, Knight's fate had been sealed by 36 shotgun pellets. He was transported to the hospital where he was subsequently pronounced dead.

Tags: Shots Fired, Orange County (Calif.) Sheriff, Armed Robbery, Foot Pursuits


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