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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

Rescuing Roell

As rounds smacked into the walls and furniture about Garcia and Roell, Garcia fired two quick bursts toward the top of the stairs. He grabbed Roell and pulled her toward the door, her slight stature and his adrenaline working to their advantage.

If I wasn't hamstrung by this long gun, I'd be able to get her out even quicker, Garcia thought.

Still, he knew that the AR-15 was part of the reason the two of them were still alive. And if Roell's blood compromised his grip, it also slickened the white tile about them, allowing him to slide her across it with ease.

His rifle still trained toward the unseen top of the stairwell, Garcia got Roell through the doorway and onto the driveway as chunks of concrete kicked up about them. He'd gotten her halfway to the trailer when Roell's uniform got hung up on some construction boards littering the driveway.

Garcia yelled for the second officer in the carport to get Roell over the boards as he covered the two of them. For Vargas to get a good shot at them, he'd have to descend the stairs. And the officer knew that if Vargas tried that, Garcia would finally have the upper hand against his unseen assailant.

Garcia had never seen this fellow San Antonio officer before, but the man didn't hesitate. He rushed forward, freeing Roell from the boards and dragging her between the trailer and the boat. Laying her down, the officer then crawled beneath the trailer, positioning himself where he had an upward view of the interior of the house and the stairwell beyond.

Garcia and his fellow officer communicated a game plan: If the covering officer opened fire, it would be Garcia's cue that the man was coming down. Garcia would then be able to get his rifle on the suspect.

Garcia ran around the boat toward the street and crawled under the trailer. Working his way to Roell, he dragged her toward the front end of the boat, putting more cover and distance between her and the suspect.

The injured officer was going in and out of consciousness, her face ghostly pale. Beneath her vest, Garcia could see what an AK round had done to her insides. As gingerly as possible, Garcia pushed what he could back beneath her vest and told her he was going to roll her on her side. As he did, he put his hand atop the huge hole in her stomach and asked Roell if she could move.

"I can't," she replied. "I need help."

Ram the Gate!

Garcia looked about, inventorying what he and Roell were up against. A spiked five-foot tall wrought iron fence surrounded the perimeter. There'd be no surmounting an obstacle like that, and yet he knew he had to get her out.

That was when he spotted Officer Carlos Kella running to a patrol car.

"Ram the gate!" Garcia yelled to Kella. "Ram the gate!"

Kella nodded then jumped into his patrol car and hit the gas, smashing through the gate before backing out and heading for a house a few doors down where Garza, Pue, and the injured Officer Robards were awaiting evacuation.

Garcia thanked God and Kella for the break. He told Roell that it was going to hurt, but to just bear with him. Throwing her over his shoulder, he made a sprint for the fence line.

Clearing the damaged gate, Garcia darted left toward a patrol car that was parked at the intersection. He and Roell were still exposed to the #1 and #4 corner of the house, but he had put distance between themselves and the suspect and his withering fire.

Somebody had moved Garcia's patrol car, leaving another parked in its place. Garcia patted himself, but couldn't find his keys. Another officer threw Garcia his set.

Garcia opened the back door and the cover officer from the carport joined him in helping Roell into the back seat. Garcia backed up the patrol car, turned around, and drove a few blocks to a hospital to where EMS was ready for them.

With Roell out of the car and onto a stretcher, Garcia jumped back in the patrol car. He checked the MDT map and saw there was another way around to get to the house.

Not knowing that Robards had already been transported, Garcia believed that the trio of officers were still trapped in the backyard. As the suspect continued sporadic gunfire, Garcia drove around the block and approached toward the #3 and #4 corner. That was when he saw Daniel Pue and J.B. Garza at the house catty-corner to it. They advised Garcia that they'd gotten Robards out.

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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