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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: San Antonio, Texas 09•08•2008

Dodging withering rifle fire from a barricaded shooter, Officer Pedro Garcia rescued two wounded officers.

December 29, 2009  |  by - Also by this author

Trapped

Having told the kid to beat feet, Garza moved from the cover of the carport and joined Garcia and Robards.

The unspoken thought Garcia and Garza shared was that any man willing to kill his own son would have no compunction about killing as many cops as he could. They had to get Robards out of there as soon as possible, both for his sake and theirs.

They tried to get a grip on Robards, but his clothes were too bloody and his injuries too severe to even consider lifting him over the wrought iron enclosure.

If they couldn't get Robards out of the yard, they could at least try to get him to some cover. At the rear property's extreme corner lay a passageway, one that apparently led to an adjacent lot. If Garcia and Garza could somehow get Robards through the chain-link fencing that linked the two properties, they might be able to get him to safety.

But as they dragged Robards toward a passageway, a large rott

weiler rounded the corner and attacked. Garcia point-fired his AR-15, killing the dog mid-leap. Any sense of relief he felt was short lived as he realized that accessing the lot would mean scaling yet another wrought iron fence, this one seven feet tall with spikes and bolted to a wall that closed off access to the property. There was no way that they'd be able to get Robards out with his leg in its current condition.

Blind Fire

Rounds tore up the ground about them as the gunman Vargas opened fire on the trio from an upstairs rear window. Garcia could hear the rounds as they whizzed by him and impacted the ironwork. Swinging the AR-15 around, he squeezed off two quick rounds back at Vargas, forcing the man to momentarily retreat from the window.

With the momentary lull, Officer Daniel Pue jumped over a rear fence and assisted Garza in getting control of Robards. As Garcia covered, they carried Robards behind him as he made slow, inexorable progress past the windows and doorways of Vargas' house, his vigilant AR-15 rotating from one potential threat to the next.

But just as Garcia made it under the carport, another volley of fire broke out. Vargas, apparently relying on his familiarity with the property, fired blindly from inside the house through its walls at them.

Vargas' shots were unbelievably close. A pair of sunglasses atop Pue's shoulder were blown off his epaulet-but Garcia methodically pressed on. He'd made it to where a trailer was parked before he looked back to find the trio was no longer behind him.

Unable to keep up with Garcia, Garza and Pue had elected to double-back to the fence line, Robards in tow. There, Garza and Pue used nothing but brute strength and determination in kicking the wrought iron fence long enough and hard enough to loosen it from the wall. When they'd created enough space to accommodate them between the fence and wall, they assisted Robards to an adjacent property.

I Need Help

From the vantage point of the trailer, Garcia watched as more rounds tore through the wall facing him and another officer who was taking cover beneath the trailer. Garcia figured so long as Vargas was fixating his fire on their position, Garza and the others might stand a chance. In the meantime, the two of them in the carport would try to contain the SOB pending SWAT's arrival.

The second officer yelled at Garcia.

"There's a wounded officer inside the house!"

"No," Garcia yelled back. "We got him! He's around back."

"No, no!" the officer under the trailer yelled. "There's another right there!"

Just then Garcia saw what the other officer was pointing at and his heart sank: A female officer dragged herself down the last steps.

Officer Brandy Roell was in a seated position, her back to the door and her arms pushing her body backward across the tile flooring in a desperate bid to get herself away from the suspect and to cover.

Vargas' fire began alternating between two kill zones: The carport and the doorway. Rounds were penetrating two and three walls at a time, and with each volley, seemed to be getting closer.

His AR-15 still trained on the second story, Garcia rushed for the injured officer. As he crossed the doorway at the right side, rifle fire splintered the wood frame adjacent to his head, sending a sliver of wood into his chin.

Roell was about three feet beyond the threshold. It might as well have been a mile. She stared back at him.

"I need help," she said.

Garcia rushed to Roell and bent down next to her as he angled his rifle up toward the landing atop the stairwell.

If only the guy would show his face...

Tags: shots fired, San Antonio PD, Domestic Disputes


Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Morning Eagle @ 1/2/2010 1:23 PM

Dean's chronicle of this bad day in San Antonio is excellent and contains information that should be of value in training patrol officers and response teams for active shooter situations. Officer Garcia seems to have been near the epitome of a highly trained officer exercising clear thinking and decisive action from the outset when he realized the value and necessity of using a minute or two to obtain his patrol rifle instead of rushing to confront an AK-47 with only his sidearm.

The importance of keeping in top physical condition cannot be over emphasized. You may have to handle the whole shooting match yourself, at least initially, and not every one has SWAT, ERT, or even a large department at their beck and call. Even when a team is available, the time from alert to arrival can seem interminable though, ideally it may be only a matter of minutes.

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