While on midnight shift at 00:30 hours, I got a call of a custody dispute. A father was at his estranged wife’s grandmother’s residence seeking his child. Upon my arrival I spoke with the father. He said he wanted to pick up his child since the mother wasn’t home. He then told me he thought the grandmother pulled a gun on him but wasn’t sure if it was a real gun.

I work in a small city with three officers per shift. I had no backup at the time because the other two officers were on a fight-in-progress call. I decided to speak with the grandmother to get her side of the story even though there was a possibility of a weapon involved. I could see the grandmother looking through the glass storm door as I approached. She opened the door as I arrived at the front door in full uniform. I asked her what was going on and she told me her version of the incident.

During the conversation I’m scanning her hands, looking for a weapon. She kept her right hand behind her back. I couldn’t see her right hand, so I slowly eased to the side and got closer to see if she had a weapon. I asked her about the child and she became very upset and brought her right hand around to the front. I could clearly see a nickel-plated revolver. She had a gun!

I was within arm’s length of the subject as she brought the weapon to the front and was raising it upwards. The gun was aimed at my belt buckle. I was able to grab the revolver with my left hand. She immediately tried to pull away. I disarmed her and grabbed her free hand. She kept trying to pull away. We were in the doorway of her residence and I didn’t know if she had any other weapons in the residence. She was still struggling with me as I pulled her out of the doorway.

The revolver was in my left hand and I was trying to get her under control with my right hand. I managed to radio for help during the struggle. In minutes I had backup and got her handcuffed. The weapon she pulled on me was a S&W .38 Special with a round in every chamber.

In my then three years of service, this was the first time that I feared for my life. If I’d been one step farther away from the suspect, this incident might have ended much differently. Looking back on this incident I’m glad I didn’t have to shoot. Every day I learn some lessons in this job.
— DH, VA

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