Firefighter Shot by Police: A Reflection

Thoughts on the aftermath of last week's shooting incident in Mt. Greenwood.

The scene of a shooting in Mt. Greenwood, where police shot a firefighter on July, 11, 2013. Photo Credit: Lorraine Swanson
The scene of a shooting in Mt. Greenwood, where police shot a firefighter on July, 11, 2013. Photo Credit: Lorraine Swanson
Crime scenes often have a few things in common. The police tape, TV news vans, curious onlookers and always first responders.

You can sometimes lose perspective on what our police and firefighters see, with frequency, in the course of doing their jobs. We see tragedy from the outside in. They often see it every day, up close and unvarnished. 

The crime scene in the CVS parking lot on 103rd Street and Pulaski Avenue was different. A firefighter had been shot by police officers who feared he was about to do the same to them. First responders all. Another tragedy witnessed up close and unvarnished. 

On Thursday afternoon a call was placed by a firefighter's wife who told the operator that she was on the phone with her husband who was speaking about suicide, according to Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden. She said he owned a gun and was not sure where it was. 

His black SUV was found parked in the 103rd Street CVS parking lot. He was reclined in his seat, talking on a cell phone with only that hand visible, Camden said. 

Officers shouted that everything was going to be OK. The firefighter got out of the car, made the sign of the cross and entered what police describe as a "combat stance." He had an object in his hand. Officers fired, striking him. 

As he was loaded into the ambulance he told a police sergeant, "Thank you for doing what I wanted you to do," Camden said. 

It's a tragedy all around. For the firefighter's family, for his family in the department and for all those who know him. It's also a tragedy for the officers who pulled the trigger. A police review will be conducted, as is the case in every police shooting. It's probably a day that none of the officers or paramedics on the scene will find easy to forget. 

They couldn't have imagined having to shoot one of their own fellow first responders. 

"It's a shame we couldn't have given him the help he needed instead of shooting him," Camden said.  

The firefighter, who was wounded multiple times, is still alive. We may never know what contributed to the events that transpired. We can't say with any certainty that his job was a contributing factor in this specific case. 

What we can say is that police officers and firefighters frequently find themselves in high pressure, emotionally difficult situations. It's something that shouldn't be forgotten by the citizens they protect or the leadership they work for. 

The large numbers of firefighters and police officers who call this community home shapes the very fabric of the neighborhood. When an event like this takes place it always hits a little closer to home in the 19th Ward. These men and women are our neighbors, and for many of us they are our family. 

The mental health of first responders and military men and women should not be treated lightly. We owe it to them to offer all the support they need after events like this one, and to prevent events like this one. 

2nd July 15, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Well put. Citizens should also remember that the media usually only report one side of any story involving the police or fire department because department personnel are not allowed to comment to the press. Therefore, take anything reported with a grain of salt and a hefty dose of cynicism because you are only hearing one side of the story and probably less than half the facts.
ken crosby July 15, 2013 at 07:12 PM
I am a COMBAT VETERAN who suffers from sever PTSD and the VA TURNED a blind eye for over 15 years there isn't a day I don't struggle
SouthSide July 16, 2013 at 10:50 AM
Thanks for serving, Ken, and I'm sorry that you are struggling... It's not right that we (the nation as a whole) turns its back on any veteran suffering from any health issue.
gmc July 16, 2013 at 11:43 AM
fred July 19, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Ken-Thank you..!
Alec Ayter July 21, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Thank u Ken and those that honour him, the truth about these disasters and atrocities are self inflicted we have been bamboozled by crooks, deep pocket looters of Crook county, Sprfldd, DC who are great at serving up the free stuff and giving the max benefits to the Oligarchs who have no problem sending kids to war for the Empire aka their portfolios., We spend a Billion or more a day in Afghanistan mostly to train and arm the war lords and locals who turn the weapons on our men and women, we buy hello's from Russia for them to get the dope out of the country easier but forgot to teach them how to operate them and spend more Billions to be used in their civil wars when we leave and begin making plans to reinvade while closing up mental hospitals and continuing the deterioration of the VA, and giving rebates to oil companies and runaway corp operating in the communist Bainland whose leader is the former candidate of the flag wavers party for POTUS, Detroit is bankrupt 18 Billion or less than 3 weeks in Afghan, the troops coming home will repeat this tragedy many times we will even get tired of reading or hearing about them.. The sequester was opposed by McCain because he was worried about the loss of revenue to his banksters and wall street bosses, the perfect Manchurian candidate in a government full of whores, Tparty , Lefty Lib's and Blue dog Dem's, few of them could care less of the troubles that Ken, VietNam and Gulf war vet's have since returning they have had agent orange, chemical biological warfare, depleted uranium, warriors and neglected guinea pigs nor do the drug and alcohol soaked American people care, most of the media is bought and sold by the corp are people the poisoners and polluter mil indu Cong cpmplex, if the aver American still has the good fortune to have a pensions or 401, they do not want to know that the wars for Drugs, Terror, the Zionist state and the Cheney energy combine depend on keeping the profits at a max for the corp people my friends.


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