Gerry Glenn Jones: A Dangerous Situation With Unanswered Questions
Boredom Turns to Total Chaos
Police officers have a wide range of emotions to deal with. They may go from boredom to total life-threatening situations in a matter of seconds. This true account of my life as a St. Louis County Police officer is a perfect example of one of those situations.
We Are Confronted With a Mob
I don't recall the exact date of this incident, but it was summertime in either 1985 or 1986. I was working in the 3rd precinct (Affton, Mo.), and was assigned to a beat which bordered St. Louis City on the North and Gravois Road on the west. A reserve officer was assigned to me that day, and we were designated as a two-man unit. The reserve officer was a young male, who's first name way Gaylon.
We were working the afternoon watch, from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m., and I do remember it was a Sunday. As was most Sundays, we were surviving total boredom, but this was about to change without notice.
As we patrolled our beat, the female officer working the beat next to us, announced she would be out on a traffic stop, and as most officers do, we headed to her location as backup, since we had no idea what might happen. As we crossed our beat boundary into hers, we received an emergency dispatch to respond to a "shots fired" call, in her beat, and very near our present location.
As we responded dispatch ordered another unit, who was in service to respond as our backup, as was the protocol in emergency situations. When we arrived on the street where the shots fired call originated, we began looking for the address but didn't have to look very long, as we observed a large group of male subjects running toward us. Not knowing if they were suspects, victims, or witnesses, I immediately began backing up, as my reserve officer radioed our situation to dispatch, who in turn advised our backup car to expedite to our location.
My Baby's Been Shot
When I believed we had enough distance from the mob, I stopped the patrol unit and both myself and the reserve officer got out with guns drawn and ordered the advancing group to stop, which they did, but then began yelling, "our friend who lives here has possibly been shot by intruders in his home." The crowd also began ordering us to get him out of the house.
At that point, I ordered the men to take cover at the end of the street, and we moved forward in the patrol unit in order to secure a better angle to the house, and we both took positions behind the passenger-side of our squad car, just as a middle-aged woman came out of the house onto the front porch. She was holding a small baby in her arms. I ordered her to come out to our location, and her only response was, "my baby's been shot!" She then re-entered the residence with the baby. Dispatch was advised of the situation and dispatched more vehicles.
Believing the woman's child had been shot, and not knowing of the child's condition, I told Gaylon, my reserve officer to keep his position while I maneuvered closer to the front of the house.
Also, at this time, one of our police helicopters arrived on the scene and took up a vantage point above the house and street.
Armed Suspect Encountered
My stomach was in knots, as I silently prayed for God's intervention, and asked him for strength as I ran zigzagging toward some rose bushes in front of the house. As I was running, I observed a male subject exit the house from a side door. One of his arms was covered in blood. He ran toward other officers who had arrived on the scene behind me.
When I reached a position near a large plate-glass window, I could see a male subject in the living room. He had not seen me and was busily reloading a magazine of a semi-automatic pistol. I realized it was my time to react, so I ran to the front glass door, and jerked it open and ordered the suspect to put the gun down, or I would shoot him. He hesitated for a few seconds, but then as he looked at me, a look of fear came onto his face, and he laid the gun on the table. I ordered him to put his hands on his head and come to my location, as I watched for anyone else to appear. When he reached my location, I ordered him to lay face down on the porch, which he did.
As I yelled for an officer to come to my location and take custody of my suspect, a sergeant arrived. I told him I had to go in, but did not go into any detail because of the emergency. I had no time; believing a baby had also been shot inside. The sergeant disagreed with me, but I was determined, and I told him, "sarge, I'm going in; you can stay here if you wish." He didn't answer, as I yelled into the house, "St. Louis County Police officers, come out with your hands on your head."
Arrest of Second Subject
After a short time, I heard a male voice from inside the house say, "don't shoot, I'm coming out," which he did, and I ordered him to lay face down on the porch, as other officers arrived and removed him from the scene.
I called out again for anyone else to come out, but no one responded, so I cautiously entered the living room, where I observed a shotgun leaning against a bar that divided the front room and the kitchen, but I didn't see anyone. I motioned to the sergeant behind me to look at the gun, not knowing if someone was hiding on the other side of the bar.
As I reached a doorway, which in law enforcement, we called a "fatal funnel," I could see there was no one behind the bar, so I crouched and took a quick peek down the hallway to the right, where I observed the woman with the baby, and a second woman behind her. I ordered them to my location and I asked them if there were others in the house, and the lady with the baby said there were only children in the bedrooms.
Other officers took the women and baby outside, while me and the sergeant and several other officers, very cautiously, made our way through the rest of the house, where we found several small children in beds in a couple of bedrooms. We found no one else in the residence.
More Guns Found in Residence
As myself and other officers made our way through the house we observed numerous other guns in different positions, which showed a pattern of a possible standoff with law enforcement, or possibly others, who might come into the residence.
When detectives arrived, I informed them of the situation, and they took over the crime scene, and I responded to the precinct station, per a request from my lieutenant, Norval Land. When I arrived, I found Lt. Land and Captain Lloyd Armfield waiting for me to explain what happened at the scene. Captain Armfield was the night commander of the police department on that particular night. I explained every detail to them, including the fact that the baby had not been shot, as we initially thought. When the woman said, "my baby's been shot," she was referring to her husband, who had exited the house with an arm wound. According to the woman, the other two men and the woman were friends of hers. I didn't find out all the details because the detectives had taken over the investigation as soon as they arrived. I was advised by one of the detectives to meet them the next morning at the county prosecutor's office to obtain warrants on some of the individuals.
When I arrived at the county prosecutor's office the next morning, I received the biggest surprise of my life. I was informed by an assistant prosecuting attorney that warrants would not be issued for anyone involved in the incident.
When I asked why, all the attorney would tell me was the FBI had been involved in a case which included some of the people involved and stated if warrants were issued at that time, it would possibly cause negative effects on their surveillance detail. I was also informed that during the concerned shooting situation, the FBI had agents filming the activities. I was told they were in a van with darkened windows, parked near the location on the same street.
I must say, I became very upset that the agents would not assist us at the time of the incident, and that they allowed me to risk my life, without intervening. I had heard of similar things happening before, but never to me. I was also advised that the crowd of men at the scene were part of a labor union the wounded man was in and that he had been called home from a meeting with them by his wife. I was not told anymore, and to this day, I still don't know what actually transpired that night. I do know if everything I was told was true, there is a video somewhere that shows what went down that night, including my actions. I guess I will never see it, or know for sure what we were involved in.
Even though what happened left me with an empty feeling inside, I was relieved with the fact that no one was killed. Also, when I arrived for my afternoon shift that day, Lt. Land called me into his office and said he had something to show me, and handed me a large book which he kept his memoirs in. I read the passage he had penned after the incident, and it read something like this, "Officer Gerald Jones responded to a shooting call, and showed very heroic and professional actions in quelling further violence." I wish I had asked for a copy of the passage, but I did not.
On the other side of the event, my sergeant who was present at the scene, announced at roll call the next evening that what I had done was not the way to handle that type of situation. I felt two foot tall as the other officers looked at me, but after the roll call, many of them told me I had done the right thing under the circumstances. A seasoned veteran even noted that the way the people in the house had weapons at different strategic locations throughout the house, it appeared they were planning a barricaded situation for whoever tried to come into the house. He also stated that I had seized on the right situation to end the event when I saw the first subject reloading his semiautomatic pistol, and in essence, cut the head off the snake before he could bite anyone else.
Even though our general orders stated that during these types of incidents, we should contain the scene and call for our tactical unit, I felt general orders were set up, as a rule, which should be followed under certain circumstances. A general order in Wikipedia gives the following definition, "A general order of indefinite duration may be referred to as a standing order. Standing orders are necessarily general and vague since the exact circumstances for execution occur in the future, under unknown conditions." I believed I took the appropriate actions under specific circumstances. Please message here on Hubpages with your opinion of what I did, and how I did it.