The shooting scene at a Glendora Ralphs on May 15, 2011.
Still, all signs were pointing that way, and while officer safety prudency might have dictated some alternate recourse in another time and place, the thought that the man might afford himself the opportunity to insinuate himself among shoppers and possibly take a hostage didn't sit well with the officer. He sprinted after the man.
Stabio believed that he could control the problem if he could just keep the man in sight. At the very least, he could prevent his fears from being realized inside the store.
During the two-to-three seconds the man disappeared from view as he rounded a corner inside the store, Stabio put out over his radio that he had a suspect in the Ralphs and gave the address. Stabio cleared the automatic doors, and his eyes picked up the suspect straight ahead of him beside the conveyor belt at a cash register.
"Police!" he yelled again. "Let me see your hands!"
The suspect spun counterclockwise to face Stabio. His face was contorted into a grimace and his lips seemed to mouth an unheard profanity.
He raised his right arm toward Stabio. In his hand was a dark object. That the object was a firearm didn't become apparent until Stabio was about almost six feet inside the front door and it started spitting fire at him.
An incongruous auditory exclusion descended upon Stabio just then. For a while the rounds being exchanged between himself and the suspect became muted, he was picking up other sounds: The ting-ting-ting sounds of his spent casings hitting the ground as he returned fire...the store's front windows just behind him shattering under the onslaught of the suspect's firearm.
"Flashbulb memory" kicked in, too, as everything about him physically seemed to slow even as his processing skills went into hyper-drive. The suspect was rapidly firing his 9mm Glock, but an eternity seemed to pass between the first muzzle flash and the second.
Stabio continued to advance, moving as quickly and as far left as he could as he continued to engage his assailant. He fired three rounds before dropping to a knee in a bid to verify that he hadn’t been hit and to figure out his next move. He conducted a tactical reload, slipping the ejected magazine into his pants as he stood back up. The suspect ducked behind the display case at the end of the counter and continued to hold up his hand and fire recklessly at Stabio.
He's On the Floor
Stabio didn't want to continue deeper into the store, away from cover and available egress. But viable options seemed to be diminishing by the millisecond, and he soon felt the lack of any possible choice.
He had a clear-cut appraisal of his predicament: He was going up against an armed and desperate man whose determination to kill him was not in question. But any concern for his own welfare was kept in check by the knowledge that his failure to find and stop the man might allow the suspect to maneuver himself to a position where he would be able to get the drop on him. He was worried, too, for the Ralphs employees and patrons who remained inside the store. There was no way that he was going to allow the suspect the opportunity to use someone as leverage.
After he reloaded, Stabio made the decision to keep moving forward. As he did, he yelled at a couple of cashiers cowering behind their checkstands who might have seen the suspect and where he’d gone. But they could not answer; each appeared to have been overcome by the events of the preceding seconds.
Suddenly, a bag boy who had hit the deck behind the suspect yelled that he was on the floor. Stabio peeked around the corner and found the suspect on the ground with a gunshot to his head and a Glock handgun still in his hand.
The officer covered the suspect for 15 seconds and then put out that the suspect was down. Customers and employees began to flee the store as a succession of officers and paramedics filled the void they created. They assembled a team and worked on the suspect and escorted Stabio out.