The red and blue flashing lights could be seen from several blocks away as I pulled closer to the shooting scene on South Salina Street. The radio chatter talked about an officer being shot. As I walked up to the yellow police tape I started talking with officers who I know. They were reluctant to give details. Then more information began to come. Finally an emotional Police Chief Gary Miguel came under the tape and told me one of his guys had been shot and "he is very, very fortunate to be alive today."
This was the Matt's Memo blog from Monday April 13, 2009 when I had just returned from the scene of the officer involved shooting. At that moment we did not yet know the names of the officers involved in the exchange of gunfire. We did not know the true extent of their injuries. But the evening clearly was tense. More from last April:
The Chief is accustomed to sharing news with the public about some of the terrible events that happen in our community. But, having to say the words that one of his officers had been shot was not easy.
The Chief pointed to the two cars in front of a laundromat across the street. That's where the struggle began between the two officers and the suspect. By now there were more than twenty police cars, a half mile of police tape, lights, cameras and evidence technicians everywhere. The top Assistant District Attorney was there.
The actions of those officers that night are now gaining national attention. Detectives Rich Curran and Ed Falkowski are being named TOP COPS along with a handful of others from several other states. Their response to an attack by a violent parolee and a bit of good timing saved their lives that night. Here's how the chief told it a year ago:
The Chief told us the officers pulled over the car, there was a struggle, a chase and exchange of gunfire. The officers killed the suspect. Later during our 11:00 news we had Chief Miguel on live talking more about the details of what happened.
He started by going back one week. The Crime Analysis team had put out an officer safety bulletin about a 33 year old parolee named James Tyson. He was known to carry a silver revolver with a wood handle. The bulletin included a description of his car. That car caught the eye of these two officers tonight while they were working the specialty Street Crime Unit.
Chief Miguel says they pulled the car over and approached. They then got into a struggle with Tyson. He pulled out that revolver. The officers ducked for cover. Tyson's gunfire struck one in the shoulder and in the back. The bullet to the back was lodged in the officer's bullet proof vest. A doctor at University Hospital said tonight he would surely be dead if not for the vest. The bullet actually penetrated the vest and pushed into the officer wrapped in the vest.
That officer then joined his partner in pursuing Tyson around the corner onto Walrath Road. There was a further exchange of gunfire. Witnesses told police that was where one of the officers fired that deadly shot into Tyson. Police recovered that silver revolver on the scene.
Now a year later Curran and Falkowski both say they were doing their job. Falkowski says the firefight was almost an out of body experience where he acted without emotion. There was certainly adrenalin. It took them time to return to the job, but they're both back now, although not quite the same as they were before. They admit they're not quite as interested in tempting fate again.
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