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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Skokie, Illinois 08/25/2008

Officer Tim Gramins pursued a bank robbery suspect and ended up in a deadly duel.

February 08, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

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Police found stacks of bills in the trunk of the car the robbery suspect was driving. Photo: Skokie PD
Police found stacks of bills in the trunk of the car the robbery suspect was driving. Photo: Skokie PD

"There were 17 total hits on his body including three fatal shots to his head, a couple to his torso, and one to his abdomen," Gramins says. "Which means that even though Maddox was mortally wounded before the head shots, he was still able to engage me.

"People don't die the way we think they do," Gramins says. "I had 17 rounds in the guy. That will teach you how critical shot placement is."

Gramins' inability to successfully place rounds in the early part of the engagement is readily understandable given both the spontaneous nature of the attack and the confined environment he'd found himself in. Still, he'd made the most out of suppressive fire.

"Early in the fight, I didn't see where my rounds were going," says Gramins. "I had a favorable backdrop but didn't have my front sight. You need to find that front sight as fast as you can.

"They always talk about getting the front sight, and it's true. I knew the rounds I shot when I was prone and perpendicular to my unit hit him because I had a good sight picture on him as he was kneeling on the other side of my squad car on the opposite side of the street," he says.

Gramins readily credits his training as the key to his survival, and he tries to convey that same kind of training to others. He emphasizes the need to take one's range and tactical training seriously and shares his "will to survive" philosophy. But in discussing the shooting with other officers, Gramins is occasionally dismayed to hear someone comment, "Shooting through the glass? Holy cow, I wouldn't have thought of that."

"Well, why not?" Gramins asks them rhetorically.

Such encounters make him wonder if police agencies are doing an adequate job of training their personnel. He also wonders to what extent officers take it upon themselves to enhance their training through their own initiative.

"I'm lucky because my SWAT training has given me more training than many other officers get, and that training comes into play," Gramins admits. "But I've also supplemented that training with outside training. I also make a point of reading books like Dave Grossman's 'On Combat' and Alexis Artwohl's 'Deadly Force Encounters: What Cops Need To Know To Mentally And Physically Prepare For And Survive A Gunfight.'"

But even with all that training and a round in the chamber, each of Gramins' available 12-round gun magazines came into play that day-and he had a mere four rounds left when the smoke cleared.

"When you run empty, you run out quicker than you think you're going to," Gramins observes. "My backup was a Glock 26, but I didn't get to it."

The Glock 26 wasn't the only weapon that didn't come into play: An SKS rifle was recovered from the Bonneville. Gramins demurs when asked if his aggressing Maddox on foot may have prevented the man from accessing the weapon, but it is something to consider.

So are the unexpected things that one can experience in a firefight. For Gramins, just getting off his first round provided a huge psychological lift. "You feel a little better once you're up and in the game," he says.

Gramins has accustomed himself to cardio training and to routinely performing "what if" scenario training throughout his work day. He hopes that other officers working patrol are as conscientious about keeping themselves mentally and physically conditioned and that they always have something at the forefront of their consciousness to fight for. For Gramins, that proved to be his love for his son.

"It was my son's birthday, and we were going to have a party for him that night," Gramins recalls. "I was determined to be there for my son, and that goal gave me all the determination I needed to come out on top."

One image stays with Gramins, who was named Illinois State Officer of the Year and one of 10 law enforcement officers selected by NAPO to visit the White House for their heroism. The image is that of a resident on the northeast corner of the street who throughout the incident was yelling his support for the officer.

"'Get this guy!' he's yelling," Gramins laughs. "'Get him! Get him! Shoot him!' I could hear him the whole time. It was comforting to know that someone was cheering me on and that I was not out there by myself. It was like having a coach on the sidelines during a game."

AUDIO: Listen to the neighbor's 911 call.

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Comments (26)

Displaying 1 - 26 of 26

JJ Gollliday @ 2/9/2012 6:22 PM

God All Mighty, someone get some remedial training for that 911 operator. Sheeeeesh!! Thank God that there was at least one concerned citizen that tried to assist the officer. Kudos to the citizen and officer.

Tschako @ 2/9/2012 10:08 PM

From the look of the Bersa, it seems Grammins got a hit on it too, probably through the AH's hand. At first it sounded like "spray and pray", but I'd never critique a shooting where someone is shooting back, especially if the cop wins. 17 hits to end this....unbelieveable!
It ended the way it should. Way to go!

Capt David-retired LA Cou @ 2/10/2012 9:33 AM

That jammed cartridge in the perps pistol could have been in the LEO's, my main reason for still loving a wheel gun...

jMendez202 @ 2/10/2012 3:38 PM

Having been witness to how Gramins reacted under that amazing stress, and came out of it without a scratch amazes me to this day. You got him and got home to your kids and wife, which is what we all strive to do. I'm glad to know you, and I'm proud to work with you, Partner! Way to go.

Retired Cop's Kid @ 2/11/2012 11:39 AM

I highly doubt the bad guy cleaned his pistols like the officer does. Probabaly why it jammed

JB249 @ 2/11/2012 12:55 PM

Hey Cap

I'll put you and your wheel gun on a shot clock and lets see how fast you can get 36 rounds off. Personally I will stick with the glock and 17 round mags......Six revolver reloads is not my cup of tea if I'm being shot at.

Morning Eagle @ 2/11/2012 7:08 PM

One point not to miss here is to ALWAYS, always, always carry extra ammo. And if you carry a back up of a different caliber, carry at least a couple of re-loads for that too. Ya just never know! Excellent job Officer Gramins. Thanks for sharing. Wow, 17 hits from a .45 and the guy was still active until the hits to the head. Amazing, and sobering. The dependability of the revolver does make it the prefered back up for many experienced officers, especially those that have experienced jams in a semi-auto.

snipert @ 2/12/2012 2:33 PM

So Maddox Fires 22 rounds at Gramins with two different semi-auto handguns a 9mm and .380. Maddox has an SKS Assault Rifle in the car loaded with thirty Rounds ready to go. Maddox has no hits. Gramins fires 33 .45 caliber rounds from a Glock 21 with 17 hits. This shootout takes over sixty seconds of sustained fire. I think you can love a wheel gun, just leave it at home and bring your Glock to the gun fight! Yes bring as much ammo as you can carry on you!! The criminals once again are out gunning the Police. Train and Be Ready your turn can come.

snipert @ 2/12/2012 3:27 PM

Hell bring the wheel gun along for a third gun. Maddox 9mm s&w had the fail to eject on the last round in the mag. Bersa was done in by a .45 caliber hit through Maddoxs hand. Good thing it was over before Maddox could get out the SKS. As Police Officer death rates are again on the rise might be time to start slinging ARs.

Ms911 @ 2/12/2012 6:59 PM

I hope that you will all support those working with NENA/APCO Joint Committee for Mandatory Standards for 9-1-1 Dispatcher Training.

SP6468 @ 2/13/2012 7:50 AM

Officer Grammins did an outstanding job. His preparation and determination to succeed in that situation is amazing.

1805 @ 2/13/2012 8:27 AM

Great article. Glad he is safe. Since I am familiar with the area, I always wanted to know more about the call. I do have a question about the a quote in the article.

"But even with all that training and a round in the chamber, each of Gramins' available 12-round gun magazines came into play that day-and he had a mere four rounds left when the smoke cleared."

Why does he only have 12 rounds? My G21 has 13 and one in the chamber.

Just wondering if it was a typo or did he always have one less in his mag than it allows?

Penny @ 2/13/2012 6:58 PM

I had the honor of working with Officer Gramins. He is one of the most outstanding officers on any police force.Officer Gramins survived that day due to his training and his constant drive for more training of veteran and new officers.Outstanding job Officer Gramins! And I totally agree with Ms911 that there should be mandatory standards for 911 dispatchers!!!!

R. G. Montgomery @ 2/14/2012 6:51 PM

Just over a 50% hit rate. Officer Gramins beats the national average of near 30%.

He won the fight when he realized he needed to 'get his front sight' and actually make some serious hits. Did anyone notice that?

I am so disgusted by so called 'experts' who draw pay for deciding not to bother with marksmanship training as cops don't hit much anyway. No need to train actual shooting ability, we'll just issue guns with more rounds.

Officer Gramins, you performed well. Most importantly, you won the engagement and attended your son's birthday party. You can have a beer - or a Coke - on me whenever. Just keep reminding people about that front sight. Some of our brethren seem to have forgotten it.

Monica - Tim's sister @ 2/14/2012 9:33 PM

Our family remains grateful for Tim's survival of this day. I can't comment on the specifics of Tim's training or his gun, etc. What I can say is that I am really proud of my brother and know what an amazing father, husband, brother, uncle, son, colleague and friend he is to those of us who know and love him. We are so grateful you had the will and training to back you!

Shawn @ 2/19/2012 6:26 PM

Had that "resident cheerleader" been a concealed weapon holder (and due to our 2nd amendment rights he should have been) this story would have had a much shorter and cleaner ending. Being a Texas CHL, had I been the witness to a shooting like this, I would have engaged the threat seconds after he fired his first shots at the officer. This sort of thing is a reminder to us all as to why defending our constitutional rights are SO important.

Rich @ 3/22/2012 2:07 PM

I heard that the dispatcher was given the boot...what the hell was she thinking transfering the caller to the Fire Department? Even the caller was like..."the fire department?" Talk about no common sense, you cant train people to have it, you either have it or you dont. Lincolnwood ought to make this a test question for future dispatcher tests. Do you A. call for police units to respond, or B call the fire department. Hummmmm duh?

Robert Dombrow @ 5/25/2012 12:36 PM

We need to pray God's protection over all of these dedicated men and women, who stand between us and the criminal element, 365 days a year. This was truly a miracle - praise God for His protection for this officer, his family, Skokie, and all good people everwhere.

usmcvet @ 7/12/2012 3:32 AM

Well done officer. I have three kids I plan to make it home to every night too. Someone asked about the magazines, some people are taught to download their magazines by a round. The military teaches 28 rounds in a 30 round magazine. I load mine all the way too.

Corey @ 7/14/2012 7:52 PM

If we were not in such an anti-gun state maybe that citizen that was yelling to "get him" could have been able to help and shoot back. The only people unarmed in this state are the good guys. We're lucky the cops can still carry guns. And we wonder why Chicago has one of the highest murder rates in the nation. Its because we are prevented from being armed while the bad guys still are. They don't listen to the laws. thats why they are BAD GUYS.

Traaxx @ 8/28/2012 5:35 PM

I can't say any comment made above is wrong or that I disagree with them, but really 17 hits with a .45 ACP what was Maddox on. That's a lot of lead to take and still keep fighting. This is like the Miami Shootout in the 80's that started the 10mm and 40 S&W on the road.

On a sour note, Gramins put that many rounds down range without a thought of innocent bystanders? His training has to be called into question. If a CHL did that, the hue and cry would never end. If R. G. Montgomery, above, is right and Gramin had a 50% hit rate at that range and was a SWAT member, something is wrong with his training or his overall awareness. I'm glad he survived and didn't get wounded and I doubt I'd do any better and probably much worse, but then again I don't get to <b>train as a police oficer or undergo constant SWAT training<b>. <i>This guy should have been better under control<i> emotionally and professionally? :(



Keith @ 12/12/2012 12:35 PM

17 hits out of 36 or 37 possible? Excellent work in any fight and incredible when you've just been ambushed and you're starting way behind the curve and you not only manage to get 17 hits and end the fight with some ammo left, but also manage to not get hit! And reality is a .45 isn't significantly better then a 9mm and a determined opponent can fight through just about anything short of a hit that takes out CNS.

Rob @ 12/30/2012 3:22 PM

Keith I agree with you 100%. And Traaxx as for as your back ground. If someone is trying to kill you and you have no where to retreat to your gonna shoot back. It's all the will to survive and if you have it, you're gonna do what it takes to succeed.

rossco @ 4/20/2013 8:26 PM

Traxx you are a worthless POS. This man just survived and won a horrific gunfight and youre gonna call into question his marksmanship. You sir are the problem and downfall of this country. How do you sleep at night. TROLL.

Big Daddy @ 1/21/2015 8:26 AM

It's 2015 now and after reading this and seeing so many things happen since this I will say that there should always be 2 officers in a car. The idea of single patrol is outdated, completely outdated and inadequate. 2 per vehicle, 2 on foot, always 2.

kenneth Wise @ 5/15/2017 7:39 AM

It's 2017 and Big Daddy the 2 man patrol unit is not going to happened. In our state we only have 13,000 plus officers so that idea is not feasible.

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