Terrible Moment In Oregon

I just viewed a dramatic video which depicts a fatal shootout during a routine traffic stop.

The footage shows a motorist who refuses to follow the instructions of the state trooper who had pulled him over for speeding.  Instead, the suspect pulls a handgun and starts blazing away.  The law enforcement officer was struck in the side, and is expected to make a full recovery.  The suspect who fired the first shot suffered a fatal wound to the chest, and died a half mile down the road.

There are a few things that seem to happen in the video which I found to be of interest.

The first is that the suspect was holding his handgun in a standard two-handed combat grip.


(Picture source.)

He draws his weapon, and manages to fire what seems to me to be three rounds.  The state trooper is returning fire at this time, and the suspect twists to his right as the fatal bullet enters his chest.  At this moment, the magazine drops from the handgun the motorist is using to attack the officer.

What happened?  Did the shooter actually want to unload his handgun at that moment?  It does not appear that this was the case.

I would think that one of the shooter’s fingers was lightly touching the magazine release, which is just a button located at the base of the trigger guard.

millenium pro with red arrow indicating magazine release

When he received the chest wound, it appears that the suspect tightened his grip.  The finger which was lightly brushing the magazine release was suddenly not brushing it so lightly, and the magazine dropped away from the gun as it was designed to do.  The sudden and unexpected unloading of the gun is probably the only reason the suspect was not able to finish off the state trooper.

The shooter realized he was hurt, and moved to put the bulk of the law enforcement vehicle between himself and his victim.  But his gun would no longer fire, and he noticed that the partially expended magazine was lying on the pavement.  He moved to scoop up his magazine and reload his weapon, but decided at that point that discretion was the better part of valor.  He ran back to his own vehicle, and sped off down the highway.

One of the lessons I try and impart to my students is that handguns suck.  They excel at their primary purpose, which is to provide go anywhere emergency self defense in a small and light package that is ideal to carry on your person at all times.  Unfortunately, these requirements for low weight and small size means that power and effectiveness must be compromised.  They are just too weak to reliably render immediate incapacitation.  This video makes that same point.

The last we see him, the suspect is moving very fast.  He retrieves his ammunition from the ground, reloads his handgun, and runs to his car.  Anyone seeing that would think that all of the shots fired by the attacked state trooper had missed their target.  The shooter does not appear to be in any pain, and is able to perform complex actions without hesitation.  And yet he was dying all the while, with probably less than a minute of conscious life remaining.

I would think that blood loss was what finally laid the man low.  Perhaps the blood loss was mostly internal, as I did not see any sudden bloodstain appear on his shirt, but it is hard to tell with the loose clothing that was being worn.

I am very glad that the state trooper is on the road to recovery, just as I am glad that the three children waiting in the shooter’s car were not harmed by any stray rounds.  It will be interesting if we ever find out why this man decided to attempt to murder a law enforcement officer during a routine traffic stop.

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