One of the Times I Almost Bought It:
Valley Police Department, August 1987
"Good thinking. It probably saved your life!"

It was August 1987 in Eastern Nebraska. Which means it was hot and humid. Real hot and humid… My wife was pregnant with our first child, who was due to arrive sometime during this month. She was staying at my parents house near Blair, Nebraska so someone would be there to help her if I was working at odd hours, as I typically did, but more importantly because they had central air conditioning during this extremely hot summer.

During this period, the police departments in Western Douglas County were experimenting with a new idea. Instead of the typical three, eight hour shifts, A, B, and C to cover the twenty-four hour day, they started a fourth shift called D-Shift. It was determined that the majority of violent and felony crime occurred between 9:00 PM and 6:00 AM, i.e. when it’s dark outside, so extra officers were deployed during the D-Shift to meet this demand. I was Valley PD’s contribution to this experiment.

It was on a Friday or Saturday, which for the most part was pleasantly quiet over all. Around 2:00 AM, I received a message from the dispatcher to contact Deputy Bill Jackson by telephone at the Sheriff’s Office. On reaching Bill, he told me that he was investigating a felony assault at a trailer court on the western outskirts of Omaha, where the assailant beat his trailer court landlord pretty severely with a metal pipe, landing the landlord in the hospital. Jackson went on to tell me that the suspect most likely went to Omaha, but added that one of the witnesses told him that the subject also had a friend or two living at Fremont. On the outside chance that this guy does go to Fremont, he’ll probably go through Valley to get there.

Bill gave me the subject’s personal and vehicle description, and added, “If you come across him, be careful. He’s already displayed a violent disposition…”

I went back on patrol. It seemed as if everyone else in the world had gone indoors to enjoy the cool of air conditioning, while I drove around out in the heat!

It was coming up on 6:00 AM, the end of my shift. It was morning twilight where the sun’s not up quite yet, but the sky’s starting to get light. Steam was rising from the fields around town, looking like smoke coming from a smoldering fire. It was going to be another hot one. I was driving east on US-275, approaching what was then known as County Road 96. (Today, it’s 264th Street!) Wouldn’t you know it… The car matching the description of the assault suspect is going west on US-275...

As I’m turning around, I call out to dispatch that I’m about to stop this car. “Five-Four Radio: I’ll be 10-7 with Nebraska One David Adam Five Seven One (not the actual plate,) east side of Valley, Route Two-Seventy-Five. Possible assault suspect. Role me a back up.”

I already had a bad feeling about the way this was going down. Most cars will hit the brakes when the driver sees a cop behind them, but this guy was slowing way down! Dispatch replied, “Five-Four; District 7 will be enroute from Road Patrol Office at Omaha.” Great! My back up was coming from 114th and Dodge in Omaha! All the deputies were in the office for shift change. Not good!

Before I even turned on the red and blue lights, the car slowed down even more and turned into the well kept farmstead of George Reed, just east of a convenience store on the east edge of town. I provided dispatch with my exact location and added, “Expedite the back up. I think this is your guy.”

This is a 2013 view of where the George Reed farmstead used to be in 1987, on the outskirts of
Valley, Nebraska along US-275. The incident occurred about 25 feet inside this gate.

Clearly, this is not a routine traffic stop. I’m not psychic, but like most cops, training and experience teaches you to tell when things are not quite right. All the bells and warning signs are going off in the back of my head warning me that there's something wrong with this situation! Training kicks in, and you know what to do. I’m not walking up to the driver’s window. In this case, felony stop procedures will be used.

I poped the twelve gauge shot gun out of the rack, and barricaded myself behind my open patrol car door with the shotgun leveled at the driver between my door and the door post. I shout, “DRIVER! OPEN THE DRIVER’S DOOR AND PLACE YOUR HANDS OUTSIDE WHERE I CAN SEE THEM!”

At first, it looks like he’s going to comply. He’s opened his driver’s door… But he’s not placing his hands outside. As a matter of fact, he’s just sitting there, looking straight ahead. “DRIVER! PLACE YOUR HANDS OUTSIDE WHERE I CAN SEE THEM!” (Where is my back up?!)

The guy slowly let’s his leg out of the car, and starts to get out… For whatever reason, he's keeping his left profile to me... He’s holding a big, plastic soft drink cup in his left hand, and as he’s getting out, he’s raising his cup to his lips like he’s going to take a drink… He’s not facing me, as he’s facing away from his car toward the left as he starts to look at me out of the left corner of his eyes. Enough of this crap! I jack a shell into the shot gun! Nothing sounds more intimidating then a shell being chambered into a Remington 870 Pump Shotgun! This got the dirt bag’s attention! He drops his beverage, and falls back part way onto his open car door, while tossing something into his car with his right hand.

I warn him that I’m not in any mood to take any crap off of him. I order him to interlock his fingers on top of his head, and to walk backwards, slowly toward my voice. I walk him to the back of my patrol car, where I lean him over the lid of the trunk, and cuff him with his hands behind his back with my free hand. (Where is my back up?!) I’m holding the subject by the cuffs and I move him to the passenger side of the patrol car, while I open the passenger side door.

I’ve got the dirt bag with my right hand, and I’m trying to put the shotgun back into the rack with my left hand, but it’s not cooperating. It just won’t slide into the rack! (Hind sight told me I should have simply popped the trunk lid, and put the shotgun into the trunk, but noooooo…..) I need two hands to put the shotgun in the rack, so I let go of the dirt bag. About that time I hear, the soft, rapid sound of ‘chick, chick, chick, chick’ as the subject is running away through the dirt, across the cornfield with my hand cuffs!

I toss the shot gun into the car and take off after him! I shout, “STOP OR I”LL BLOW YOUR FU**ING HEAD OFF!

He thinks I still have the shot gun, so he dives face first into the dirt! Now I’m pissed! I’m hot, sweaty, and out of breath! After all, nothing says “Enjoy Summer” like chasing a dirt bag through waist high corn on a hot and humid August morning! I drag the dirt bag back to where the foot race started and toss him into the back of my patrol car. The shotgun goes into the trunk, and I’m not taking my eyes off of the dirt bag!

The sun is just coming over the horizon as Mr. Reed comes out of his home to see what all the shouting and festivities are all about in his front yard. I explain to Mr. Reed that the Sheriff wants to talk with this "Gentleman," about an incident near Omaha, while the "Gentleman" decided to pull into his farm yard, in spite of the “No Trespassing” signs at the gate. I ask Mr. Reed if he’d like to press charges, when the dirt bag exclaims, "I’m not trespassing, my grandfather lives here!"

I say, “Well George, the guy says you’re his grandfather…”

George says, "I’ve never seen that man before in my life.”

The subject gets excited and says, “No, no! You’re my cousin’s grandfather!”

So now I say, “Well George, I think if you’re his cousin’s grandfather, you’d still be his grandfather…”

Geroge says, “I still say I’ve never seen this guy before in my life!”

About this time, two Sheriff’s Deputies and a Sergeant come screaming up. “Randy! You Ok? Dispatch can’t get you on the radio!”

“Yeah… I’ve been kind of busy…” I replied.

Sgt. Mike Bugelewicz walks up to the subject’s car and looks inside the driver’s door. “Deputy Jackson, take charge of Officer Schulze’s prisoner! Randy, come over here!”

Bill takes the subject and I go over to see what Mike’s got. “Randy, look what’s on the driver’s seat.”

There on the seat, was a 9 millimeter, semi-automatic hand gun! This is what the dirt bag tossed back in the car when he saw the business end of the shot gun leveled at him! I guess he figured I had him out gunned. Mike recovered the 9mm to inspect it. It’s fully loaded, chambered, and the safety off. It was ready to fire!

“Randy, I think this gun was meant to be used against you!” A cold streak ran down my back…

“I’m glad I took him out of the car at the end of my shotgun.”

Mike agreed, “Good thinking. It probably saved your life!

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