Photo: Mike Neal
Moments earlier, Crittenden County Chief Deputy W.A. Wren and Sheriff Dick Busby had entered the opposite end of the Walmart lot. Seeing the suspect van turn from a parking aisle directly in front of them, the officers pulled face-to-face with the van to prevent the suspects from escaping. The two officers immediately came under fire.
Jerry Kane stepped one foot outside of the van and aimed his pistol between the door and door post at the officers. The younger Kane raked the windshield of their patrol unit with automatic fire from his AK-47. Wren was hit four times in the abdomen and Busby was shot once in the shoulder.
The Kanes had wounded the two officers but they had also disabled their patrol car, effectively blocking their own escape. The father put the van in reverse and started to accelerate.
The men never knew what hit them.
At the sound of gunfire, the police car in front of Neal stopped to take up a position to fire. Neal drove around the patrol car and hit the accelerator. He stomped on the pedal with such force that his Chevy 1500 truck was already at 50 mph by the time it impacted against the left rear portion of the van, bringing it to an abrupt halt.
The van rocked to a stop. The driver and the game warden stared at one another through the left rear passenger window.
Neal held his M4 Bushmaster rifle at the ready in his right hand. Kane immediately spun around and engaged Neal with a Taurus Judge, a combination .45 Long Colt and .410 caliber handgun. Neal opened up with his department-issue rifle.
The Bushmaster did its job. The elder Kane was hit in the face. But no sooner did Neal recognize that he'd eliminated one threat than shards of glass cascaded about his face and upper torso as bullets from Joseph Kane's AK-47 riddled his patrol unit.
With his front windshield, hood, and dash being ripped apart all around him, Neal could only catch glances of amber flashes from Joseph Kane's assault rifle. Neal couldn't get a bead on his assailant, so he aimed for the flashes themselves. He found himself playing a high-speed, high stakes game of cat and mouse, ducking and resurfacing above the visual plane of the dash and firing as fast as circumstances would allow. The only saving grace was the belief that his assailant was spraying blindly, raking the front of his patrol vehicle with as many rounds as possible in the agitated hopes that he'd put the officer down.
Neal was just as determined. He squeezed off round after round until 30 bullets had exited his windshield and into the van mere feet way. Ammo depleted, Neal attempted to reload without success. He was lying atop his service weapon, his shotgun was still in the rack, so he was effectively disarmed. Worse, he had no idea how many suspects might be in the van. He knew that he had to put some distance between the threat and himself.
Why are you still shooting at me? Neal wondered.
Neal put the truck in reverse, blindly steering away from the van.
His truck canted against a concrete easement. Neal reloaded his rifle as several other officers continued to fire on the van. Darting for the back of his truck, Neal felt burning and stinging in his back and side. He'd been shot. A suspect's round had fragmented and struck him in his side, his leg, and right behind his arm.
Another officer approached Neal and checked him out. Satisfied that he'd be none the worse for wear, Neal joined the other officers in approaching the Kanes' van.
Both father and son were dead.