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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Montrose, Colorado 07/25/2009

Called to a family’s home, Montrose officers faced a shotgun-wielding gunman who was barricaded in a garage.

April 09, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

Unfortunately, that dialogue was established with a cell phone-wielding daughter who arrived on scene visibly agitated. Over the phone, she let loose with a litany of profanity-laced demands, each word reflective of an attitude less interested in assisting officers than in getting this latest parental embarrassment over with. It was an attitude mirrored by her brother.

"I don't have time for this!" Gurney’s son yelled as he bowled his way past the assembled officers. Officers grabbed him as he attempted to kick in the front door. With the son pulled away and relegated to the sidelines, officers resumed efforts to establish a conversation with Gurney. Unfortunately, it was a no go.

Again, the same adamant request was made by the same officer: Let's kick in the door.

This time, Sgt. Kinterknecht gave the go ahead.

A Nasty Surprise

The presence of a gun safe in the Gurney garage had been made known to the officers. But the family assured officers that Gurney did not have access to the firearms. And in a conventional sense, he did not—he didn't have a key. However, he did have the tools to open the safe and disgorge its contents.

And so he'd barricaded himself in the back of the garage with a Benelli 12-gauge shotgun and a variety of other firearms.

The door splintered under the boot of Officer Robbie Satterly. The officers rolled into the doorway. And Gurney let loose with multiple blasts from the Benelli. Within the span of two seconds, 36 pellets peppered the doorway. Sixteen pellets struck Officer Larry Witte in his lower extremities; four more hit Ragsdale. Witte returned fire. Both officers collapsed.

As other officers dragged Witte from the fatal funnel, Ragsdale drew his .40 caliber Glock where he lay and covered the door. A long gun in tow, Gurney was approaching the entryway from the rear of the garage when Ragsdale spotted him. The man had closed the gap by half when Ragsdale fired a round at him, missing high and wide of Gurney's right shoulder but forcing Gurney to disengage and back off toward a bathroom in an office area of the garage.

Dead Man's Drag

Ragsdale realized that it would be in his best interests to back off, too, and get the hell out of the fatal funnel.

Some help toward that end would have been appreciated, but his fellow officers were dealing with Witte who, as far as he knew, had gotten the worst of it. Kinterknecht apparently had been hit, too. For the moment, it was up to Ragsdale to fend for himself.

Two weeks before, Ragsdale had been trained in the "shrimping technique," a means of moving the body along the ground by extending your extremities and briskly folding yourself like a knife. Ragsdale put the technique to work, inching himself far enough away from the doorway to get out of the kill zone. He retargeted the garage with his Glock.

Off to his side he could see officers tending to Witte. He heard the CPR efforts of other officers working on Kinterknecht behind him.

Stay with us, Dave. Come on, Dave. Look at me, Dave. Breathe.

The pellets that shattered Ragsdale's left femur made him unable to move. He resigned himself to keeping a vigil on the door across the driveway, waiting for Gurney to pop out one more time to finish them off.

Finally, Montrose County Sheriff's deputy Ben Halsey grabbed Ragsdale in a dead man's drag and pulled him further away from the hot zone before disappearing. But as third in line for triage, Ragsdale knew he would remain in a world of hurt.

Minutes ticked by before Chism arrived and dragged Ragsdale further out of eye line of the threat. Seeing the swath of blood that trailed across the driveway behind his body, Ragsdale knew that he’d been seriously injured and suspected that he might lose the leg. But the mere promise of help proved medicinal in its own right. Chism grabbed him by the jaw and said, "Stay with us," then went back to attend to Kinterknecht.

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