It was Christmas time 1992. I had been a police officer for seven years and was working a part-time security job at a department store. I was working with a friend and fellow police officer from the local Sheriff’s department. At that time as a group of security officers we averaged approximately 30 arrests per month for shoplifting. We always managed to get in a few fights with shoplifters that refused to cooperate.

One day my wife had come to the store to have lunch with me. We were eating lunch at one of the restaurants in the mall where the store was located. I was called over the radio that we all carried, and advised that our camera operator had spotted a male who was acting suspicious.

As I entered back into the store, I was advised that the person being watched had been carrying an item that he had picked up and was acting suspicious. The other officer and I watched the suspect enter one of the restrooms on the first floor of the store and exit without the item. The suspect then went to the second floor, walked around for a few minutes and then went back down to the first floor.

The suspect then exited the store, and the other officer and I approached the suspect on the outside of the store. The officer working with me grabbed the suspect by the arm; as he did this, the suspect pulled away, spinning around and produced a handgun. Upon seeing the handgun I reached for my handgun and came up empty-handed. It then dawned on me that my handgun was upstairs in my locker. It was the store’s policy that we could not carry our handguns.
At this time the suspect moved the handgun back and forth, pointing it at the other officer and then at me—we were standing approximately six feet apart at the time. I remember thinking this is going to really “suck” to have my wife learn that I was killed.

After a short time that felt like hours, for unknown reasons, the suspect turned and ran back into the mall. At this time we advised the camera operator of what had just happened and advised her to call the local police. Within just minutes there were approximately ten officers on scene, and we all began searching the mall for the suspect, fearing that he was still inside, where he could still harm someone.

Upon doing so, we observed a male standing at the back of one of the stores in the mall, and he appeared to match the suspect’s description. Several officers and I then cleared everyone out of the store without the subject even knowing. We then approached the subject with our guns pointed at him and began ordering the man to the floor. As it turned out, it was not the suspect. That poor man will not forget that Christmas. We weren’t then able to locate the suspect.

Nine months later the officer that had been working with me that day was working at another store where he also worked part-time security. He later told me that he was standing in the customer service booth at this store when he observed a man walk into the store. My friend stated that he had this feeling that he had seen the man before. As the man walked past the officer he could see the outline of a handgun in his back pocket. It then struck my friend where he had seen the man, and he then called the Sheriff’s Office and advised them of the situation and to send backup.

Before help arrived, the man left the store and the officer exited out the opposite door, paralleling the suspect. My friend then took the suspect down at gunpoint, and with the arrival of other deputies, the suspect was taken into custody. Upon searching the suspect, two handguns were found to be on his person, the one that he had pulled on us and another handgun. The suspect was charged, tried and convicted of armed robbery, aggravated assault, and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

He spent several years in prison, where he made several threats upon the other officer and me, which only added time to his sentence.


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Suspicious Minds

It was Christmas time 1992. I had been a police officer for seven years…