Podcast 90 Study of a Phoenix Shooting

By on May 31, 2014


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15 Years ago a CHL holder was in a deadly shootout.  He won and survived, but the police office he was trying to protect didn’t make it.  The bad guy went to jail for the rest of his life and the CHL holder was hailed a hero.  He did a lot of things right a couple things he may have done better.  This podcast is a study of that shooting and what we can learn from his experience.

Bullet Points on the Shooting:

From the book “Thank God I had a Gun” by Chris Bird

March 26, 1999


  • Rory Big Guy
  • 6’1 300
  • Drives Kia Sephia
  • Looked and sounded like a cop
  • Armed Security Guard since 21
  • Security for real-estate-managemet company


  • left his office w/ Beretta Bobcat
  • went back for Glock 31 left on seat next to him
  • Personal car to pick up patrol car
  • Smoking with window down
  • block from destination back streets
  • coming up to an intersection Lincoln Town car ran the stop sign and turned the corner
  • Rory kept driving just thinking jerk
  • Phoenix cop speeding along chasing the Lincoln
  • Lincoln stopped in the middle of the street a couple hundred feet ahead of him
  • 1 man ran from the car
  • 1 man exited the lincoln and was standing beside the driver’s door with a revolver
  • the cop approached and the man raised the revolver and took a 2 handed stance and opened fire at the police car as it approached.  He kept shooting as the police car went by
  • Rory reached for the Glock
  • He rolled to a stop about 50’ behind the lincoln
  • watched horrified as the man fired at the police car
  • he didn’t hear the shots but say the revolver bucking in the man’s hand
  • He saw the officer slump down in the squad car
  • The police car slowed and veered off the street and ran into a utility pole snapping it in two
  • The man turned towards Rory with revolver in hand
  • didn’t know if the man fired at him or not buy the revolver was pointed at him
  • Passed the gun from his right to left hand to fire at the gunman
  • Unable to see the sights because he was too tall
  • saw a UPS truck parked baking him beyond the lincoln
  • Gunman jumped back in lincoln
  • Rory got out
  • there was a pause
  • Rory got out like a cop and took a position in the door way with the gun pointing through the door jam and fired several more rounds
  • Gunman retreated back into the car
  • the lincoln’s reverse lights came on
  • Rory jumped back into the kia
  • the lincoln hit his car a pushed it backwards
  • The windshield was pushed in and hit his gun hand
  • the cars stopped in an L position
  • Rory fired several more round and saw the Gunman flinch
  • Rory’s slide locked back he didn’t have an extra mag
  • Rory charged the gunman
  • stuffed his empty Glock into his waistband at his back
  • Rory ran into the Lincoln’s open door and found the gunman with his revolver in his left hand and was groping for something on the floor board with his right
  • The gunman brought up the revolver and stuck it in Rory’s face and pulled the trigger
  • There was a loud click
  • there was only 3 live rounds and 3 empty chambers
  • Rory grabbed the gun out of his hand and yanked him out of the car and threw him on the ground
  • Put a foot on him
  • Rory looked around and saw 2 men standing on the corner
  • Rory yelled for help and one came over to him
  • Handed the guy the bad guy’s gun and made him hold the guy
  • Rory ran to the cop
  • Marc was slumped on the computer and appeared to be dead
  • Rory ran back to the bad guy
  • The witness gave Rory gave the gun back and disappeared, police never found him
  • The cops showed up and Rory put the Revolver on the Lincoln roof
  • 1st cops stopped well back and jumped out of the car
  • Rory told them the cop was hurt and needed help
  • The officers ran past him to Marc’s patrol car
  • More cops showed and Rory told them that the guy on the ground was the shooter and asked for someone to cuff him
  • 1 cop cuffed the bad guy
  • another took the guns and put them into a cop car trunk
  • Rory was left standing there for about 10 minutes
  • Police searched the Lincoln and found a Ruger 9mm in the floorboards, a 12-gauge shotgun and cocaine packaged for sale
  • never any suggestion that Rory was a suspect
  • Rory’s phone was in the Kia and his mother couldn’t get ahold of him
  • Before the cops arrived Rory made 2 phone calls but didn’t remember
  • Rory stood on the street for about an hour in the rain
  • The chief showed up and introduced himself to Rory
  • Chief brought him into the command center van
  • Some time 4 or 5 hours after the shooting someone gave Rory a ride home

Before the Shooting

  • Cop Marc Atkinson following a lead
  • Drug dealing out of a White Lincoln in the parking lot of a local bar
  • He drove by the parking lot and saw a white lincoln in the parking lot
  • He ran the plate and found it suspended
  • Marc called for backup and returned with 2 officers as back up
  • As they drove into the parking lot,
  • 3 hispanics ran from the car into the bar
  • Went after the 3 guys running into the bar
  • questioned the guys no problems
  • other 2 officers left Marc stayed
  • later 3 hispanics left in the lincoln
  • Marc followed and was going to pull them over when the Lincoln started to increase speed and started running in and out of traffic
  • Went by Rory’s vehicle

Immediate Afterwards

  • Rory couldn’t sleep
  • Guilty that he couldn’t save the officer
  • thought “what if I shot the cop”
  • He finally got to sleep at about 4:15am
  • at 6am the police asked him to police headquarters
  • He got to the police station an officer met him at the door
  • The cop was an old friend’s brother, but they had never met
  • Rory was relieved that at least he knew someone
  • Half a dozen officers where in the lobby and they all came over to him
  • Everyone shook his hand and thanked him for what he did
  • Second interview taped
  • They police only found 14 rounds from Rory’s gun
  • Rory was having magazine problems and downloaded his mags thinking there might be a problem with feeding and they believed him
  • all 14 rounds had hit the lincoln
  • Police Media Liaison wrote a statement and let Rory approve it before releasing it

Days After

  • Media bugged him at work had to have police officer escort them out
  • days and weeks after the shooting little details kept coming back
  • 4 days after police union honored him at press conference
  • Union replaced his gun
  • April honored by the NRA at annual meeting in Denver just after Columbine shooting
  • After Columbine he was ignored by the press

Long Term

  • Police union arranged and paid for counseling
  • for a year nightmares 2-3 x per week of what could have happened
  • Dr wanted him on meds, he refused
  • 6 years after the shooting only a nightmare every other month
  • Split with his long term Girl Friend
  • Rory thought he didn’t do enough to save Marc Atkinson’s life
  • damaged hearing and almost cost him a job with Homeland Security
  • At court hearings police gave him protection Rory wore a vest
  • 4 months after Rory’s mother was threatened as she returned to the apartment wear both of them where living
  • Put his mother in a back room and guarded the door with a shotgun
  • Police remembered and where everywhere
  • 2 weeks later the police union organized a security detail of off duty cops for Rory and his mom
  • 2 weeks later the police moved him witness protection style
  • a month later Rory took a job in Memphis and took his family out of state
  • The shooting cost him his job he loved for 10 years
  • on Feb 20, 2002 Sentenced the gunman to prison for life without the possibility of parole. The gunman was 17 at the time of the shooting with no criminal record
    • o   The gunman admitted in open courts that he tried to kill Rory when he pulled the trigger and the gun didn’t fire
    • o   The gunman was just trying to get away and scare the police officer away, it escalated quickly


  • Rory said it never occurred to him to not get involved
  • “I thought, that son-of-a-b is shooting at a cop, and he’s not getting away with that. That was the first thing that went through my mind. There’s no way in hell he’s getting away with that as long as I’m standing.”
  • Said he wasn’t scared or nervous while the shooting was going on
  • “I look back at it now and go: Wow, how did you just not freak out? There was a lot of anger. I remember being angry, and I remember wanting to just pick this guy up off the ground and beat the s–t out of him. And I never did . He was never hurt in any way except for where I shot him.”
  • “I had practiced point-and-shoot over the years a lot of times during our training. The only reason I felt comfortable firing the way I did was because I had practiced many times with my off [left] hand. I would never have done that if I had not practiced it before.”
  • years after Rory got more training
  • “I’m a lot better shot than I was back then.”
  • Rory doesn’t go anywhere without extra mags and a backup gun
  • out of the book “Coming to the aid of Officer Marc Atkinson cost Rory a lot in terms of post traumatic stress, a relationship, and his job at the time. As he put it, it cost him more than a magazine full of bullets. Would he do the same thing again? “Absolutely,” he says.”



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  • Aug 9, 2014 Beyond Concealed Carry with Author Glen Tate in Seattle WA
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