Killing a Wingtip!

GUMSHOE-DANNY-PITOCCO[su_dropcap style=”flat”]W[/su_dropcap]ELCOME BACK into my past police career kind readers. “To err is human, to forgive is Divine” – with only one caveat – “To never forget!”

Now let me bring you up-to-date, or should I say, back-to-date on why I made the above reference with a proviso.

I was working graveyard patrol for the Santa Ana PD back in the early summer months of 1986. My assigned beat was the relatively quiet area of the city that was given the police designation of the Santiago District. This was northeast portion of Santa Ana, California, that consisted a mix of residential, commercial and light industrial.

When I stated “relatively quiet area”, that only means we had reported fewer street gangs; fewer shootings; fewer assaults and fewer robberies than the other city assigned police beats. This alone was really no claim to fame or due to any miraculous policing. It was just what they say in real-estate, “Location, location, location!”

I was in the middle of my workweek working a “3 – 12” that meant three 12-hour days with every other week coupled with an attached 8-hour day. These are very long shifts to be chasing 911 calls for service; however, you just can’t beat having three and four days off (rotating) every other week!

Of course, subpoenas to court; mandatory training and call outs to cover special operations sometimes destroyed these Heaven-sent days off of R&R. I wager that even Thomas Moore knew that there could never be a real Utopia!

Okay, where was I? Six hours into my shift I get dispatched to a “415” (family disturbance) – possible “DV” (domestic violence) to a moderate income multiple-dwelling apartment complex.

I arrived at the location and waited for by back-up officer.

Note: More officers nationwide are assaulted and killed at these types of calls than any other. Although the primary cause for the majority of all officer fatalities are still vehicle crashes.

We then went inside the apartment and as protocol dictated, we separated the man and his wife to get their respective stories. It was shortly determined when I compared notes with the other officer that there had been no physical assault or any grounds for an arrest – just both parties having a loud argument that disturbed a common-wall neighbor who had placed the 911 call. Just to be on the safe side before we left that scene, I asked if there were any firearms inside of the apartment?

Note: Officers readily learn that they just might have to return to the same location again under more aggravated circumstances. Seizing a weapon (voluntarily) for safe keeping has prevented many a death!

The wife told me that her husband kept a pistol inside one of his suit coats that were hung inside the bedroom closet. Well, I gingerly with my left (non-gun hand) reached into several suit coat pockets until I felt a definite small hunk of metal that seemed to be hung-up within the pocket lining of a plaid sports coat (very tacky in my opinion).

I pulled this object just a wee bit more than I should have and “bang!”

One very loud bang I suppose since it caused my partner as well as the husband and wife (who were all standing in the living room) to grab some carpet as the wife echoed an even louder scream. This generated another 911 call from that same common-wall neighbor. I just reflexively jumped back with a small 32 caliber semi-automatic pistol that had been wrapped in part with black electrical tape. I counted all five fingers of my left hand (all there!) and I alerted my partner that I was okay but a man’s right wingtip brown shoe (on the closet floor) had succumbed to a direct toe shot (through and through) into the green shag carpet.

This added 911 call generated a field sergeant to the scene who took custody of this jury-rigged pistol and the deceased right wingtip men’s brown shoe. Needless to say, hubby and wife were reconciled as I sheepishly departed the scene.

About two weeks later I appeared at the Department’s Shooting Review Board.

They found the “shooting” to be accidental and not preventable due to the “jury-rigged” black electricians tape modified pistol. The city denied the husband’s claim for reimbursement for his deceased right wingtip brown shoe!

There you have it folks, that’s my story and I am sticking to it once again.

Until next time, love the ones who love you.


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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  1. This is just too funny! My first thought was “I hope the floor of that place was cement!” If not, I’m sure glad the wingtip was the only thing lost in the shooting spree. By the time the story is retold by the 911 neighbor, I’m sure the single shot turned into a spree. btw I didn’t know either of those statistics about officers on the job.

  2. Greeting Ken, in my career I lost count of all of the accidental discharges – locker rooms; briefing rooms; training sites; ranges; inside of patrol cars; bathrooms; business offices as well as off-duty incidents. Fortunately, the only injuries I personally witnessed was to the officer’s pride along with some disciplinary days off.

    Thanks for your comment and interest. Blessings to you and yours!