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American Handgunner May/June 2010 - Page 22
Massad ayoob The OkalOOsa COunTy COp-killings: The inside sTOry situation: Twoveteranofficersconfrontawife-beater,not realizinghe’sreadyto“gooutinablazeofglory.” lessons: AfailingGuardsmancanbealethalopponent. Copsmustalwaysbepreparedtoinstantlyescalate todeadlyforce. Saturday,April 25, 2009, mid-day. In Okaloosa County in the coastal panhandle section of Florida,sheriff’sdeputiesaresearchingforaburlymaleCaucasiannamedJoshuaCartwright. Heiswantedforbeatinghiswifeearlierthesameday,soviciouslysherequiredhospitalcare. Thebatteredwifehaswarnedthemhehasguns:herTaurus9mmcompactandhisownpistol, and probably at least one rifle and one shotgun. She tells the police he’s driving a Toyota Tundra, and is planning on a day of recreational shooting at the Shoal River Sporting Clays rangeoutsidethetownofCrestview. The deputies know this could be a high-risk arrest, and they take it seriously. Their new sheriff, Ed Spooner, used to be a top competitive shooter, and the department emphasizes officersafetyandsurvivaltraining,allthemoresosinceOCSODeputyAnthonyForgionewas murderedduringaSWATraidthepreviousJuly. Onegroupoffourdeputiesgoestothecouple’sapartment,anddeterminesheisnothome. Astheyleave,oneofthoseofficersisthinkingit’sprobablyjustaswell:theapproachtothe apartmentisanarrowhallwaythatwouldcanalizetheofficersinanenfiladedkillingground withnocoveragainstabarricadedmanwitharifleorshotgun.Theyarekeenlyawarethatin previousweeks,murdersofmultiplepoliceofficershaveoccurredinOakland,Californiaand Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Barricaded gunmen equipped with long arms perpetrated both of thosemultiple-copkillings. Three deputies go to the range looking for the suspect. But there is no Toyota Tundra on the property, no “Joshua Cartwright” on the sign-in sheet, and no one there knows anyone bythatname.Thesearchcontinues.WhattheSheriff’sDepartmentdoesnotknowyetisthat thecomplainantwife,forwhateverreason,hasgiventhemthewrongvehicledescription.Her husband’svehicleisamaroonChevytruck,andhehassignedafalsenametothelogatthe ShoalRiverrange. The First Confrontation Whiledeputiessearchforhimelsewhere,the28-year-oldCartwrightisontherangefiring with ordinary citizens. If he seems moody, it’s because he’s a National Guardsman whose supervisors are aware of his tendencies toward domestic violence, and have warned him a convictionwillendhisbelovedmilitarycareer.HeletsanothershootertryhisSKS,andthen cracksoffafewroundswithhiswife’s9mmTaurusMillennium.Whenthepistoljams,heis unabletoclearit,andahelpfulshooteronthefiringlineshowshimhowtofixthestoppage. CartwrightisalsowearingaRugerP95withanextendedmagazineinatacticalthighholster, butnooneremembershimfiringit. Whatpeopledonoticeisafreshtattooonhisarmthatreads,“Don’tTreadonMe!Liberty or Death.” (A range staffer will later remember this man talking favorably of radical militia groupsonanearlieroccasion.)Thetatissonewhehasapapertowelonitattimestoabsorb bloodseepage.Eventually,heheadstohistruck,andbeginsputtinghisgearawayatthepassengerdoor.Thevehicleisparkednose-out. Two deputies roll into the parking lot of the Shoal River range to check for Cartwright again. Burt Lopez and Warren “Skip”York, both 45, are considered two of the best among the almost 300 sworn deputies who patrol the 999 square miles of Okaloosa County. Both are retired from complete and honorable careers in the US Air Force Security Police at nearby Eglin Air Force Base. Their supervisors say these mature deputies are so good at Continued on page 84 theirjobstheyalmostneveractuallyneedsupervision. WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MAY/JUNE2010 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MAY/JUNE2009 22