The Quiet Toddler

It’s always the smell that brings back the long-forgotten memories filed away inside of the dark and scary passageways of Gumshoe’s brain-housing group.

Yes, Gumshoe realizes that we all have particular smells which flood our olfactory sensors that are catalysts for a cascade of individual memories; the smell of fresh-cut grass, the smell of the ozone in the air after a thunderbolt from the storm clouds, and perhaps the Heavenly smell of bacon frying (unless the recipient is a pig thinking of his fellow related swine).

Mostly, all good and pleasant and warm memories, all smell-generated.

Gumshoe’s nose recently was imbued with an odor of burnt gun powder after frequenting a local pistol range to put some 40 caliber rounds down range at a threatening paper target. In this particular instance, in the smell of the burnt gun powder, Gumshoe saw the silhouette of a toddler inside basking in the ambient light from the shattered bedroom window glass.

The toddler was calmly sitting on the bed adjacent to the body of his mother’s boyfriend. The dead beau had been murdered by means of several pistol shots to the back of his head and to the back naked torso lying akimbo on the sheets. The suspect was also dead.  The toddler’s father.  One self-inflicted gunshot to his forehead sealed the murder-suicide deal. Dad was crumped in body mass on the bedroom floor at the base of the bed.  His mouth was open and locked in surprise and definitely in full rigor mortise.

Funny, Gumshoe noted, the toddler was just sitting there, calm and wiggling his arms with his tiny hands hitting the body on the bed; maybe trying to wake him? Gumshoe snatched the toddler up and immediately passed him back to my SWAT partner, Scotty, who was still wearing his gas mask just like Gumshoe was.

Moments prior, a 35mm smoke round had shattered the outside glass of that closed-curtained bedroom window while Gumshoe followed by fellow SWAT entry partners Dave and Scotty made a simultaneous “dynamic” entry into the bedroom.

Several hours earlier the frantic toddler’s mom got a call from her estranged husband that he had broken into her apartment and was going to now kill her current boyfriend. The mom was at her nighttime janitorial job in Los Angeles and was way too far to speed home to the City of Orange, Orange County, where she left her 18-month old toddler in the care of her live-in boyfriend.  She was hysterical and suffering real fear and panic.  According to the police 911 dispatcher, the mom was hyperventilating to the max.

The Orange Police SWAT was called.  Per protocol, the neighboring duplexes and the entire block was sealed.  Residents evacuated or sheltered in place.  Communications inside the targeted apartment were attempted in vain. The apartments phone rang constantly without an answer from the boyfriend or from the suspect.

The police bull horn was used without response.  No further options; entry plans made by Gumshoe with his entry team.  A silent prayer shared.  Weapons checked.  Radio check with the outside gas guy.  No tear gas used due to the toddler inside. Smoke only.

Exactly 6 hours later from SWAT’s arrival on the scene, the front door was breached by Gumshoe’s size 12 boot as the outside distraction of the 35mm smoke round shattered the bedroom glass.  Crash and smash in harmony.  Controlled confusion.

The toddler was swiftly taken out of the residence; a quick check by the waiting fire department paramedics and into the loving waiting arms of his mom.  Relief all around. He was uninjured but now he cried as well as his mom. Gumshoe had a tear or two behind the glass eyeholes of his mask.  My entry team as well.

The smell of the lingering burnt gun powder mixed with the smoke-filled Gumshoe’s nostrils. The memory still lingers as well for Gumshoe.  Pray not for the toddler.

That’s Gumshoe’s story kind readers.  Remember to always love the ones who love you and even try to love the ones who don’t.

Coram Deo!


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. Another great article. Unfortunately there are some that feel the men and women in blue don’t or are not capable of showing emotion. Most of us have children of our own and it is usually the children that are most traumatized as evidenced by the story that you just told. It is the police officer who goes home at night after witnessing tragedy and gives his child an extra hug before turning out the lights.
    Thanks again for a powerful story.

  2. This is a great article and it rings true in the sense that memories are never forgotten especially when it concerns and involves a precious life such as a child all lives are precious all lives matter but the small and the innocent are ones that we need to protect and when that doesn’t happen that remains a memory for those who have to pick up the pieces. Police officers are at the top of the list to pick up the pieces.