Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Off-Duty Cop Helped End Utah Mall Rage

By now we have all seen the headlines and listened to the news. Sulejmen Talovic, an 18 year old Bosnian refugee, used a shotgun to kill five people in the Trolley Square Mall.

As horrific as his actions were, it could have been worse. An off duty police officer exchanged gunfire with the goblin and kept him isolated until help could arrive.

From Forbes:


An off-duty police officer having an early Valentine's Day dinner with his wife was credited Tuesday with helping stop a rampage in a crowded shopping mall by an 18-year-old gunman who shot five people to death before he was killed by police...

...Ken Hammond, an off-duty officer from Ogden, north of Salt Lake City, jumped up from his seat at a restaurant after hearing gunfire and cornered the gunman, exchanging fire with him until other officers arrived, Burbank said.

"There is no question that his quick actions saved the lives of numerous other people," the police chief said.
This incident is a graphic example of why it is so very important that folks of good will and temperament carry a firearm wherever they go. The trained, alert, CHL carrying citizen could have helped put an earlier stop to this violence. Utah is a "shall issue" state, where were the folks who have those licences?

A little background on the goblin:

Talovic had a backpack full of ammunition, a shotgun and a .38-caliber pistol, police said. Investigators knew little about Talovic, except than he lived in Salt Lake City with his mother, the police chief said. He was enrolled in numerous city schools before withdrawing in 2004, the school district said.

Talovic's aunt, Ajka Onerovic, emerged briefly from the family's house to say relatives had no idea why the young man attacked so many strangers.
And then the required "he was such a good boy" quote:

"He was a such a good boy. I don't know what happened," she told Salt Lake City television station KSL.
The fact that he was "...enrolled in numerous city schools before withdrawing in 2004" might prove that claim false.

Some quotes from eye witnesses:

Accountant Jeff Barlow was on a date at another restaurant when he looked outside and saw the gunman firing from the hip.

"I thought it was some kind of joke - some kind of movie or stunt," Barlow said. "I didn't believe it was happening. And then I saw a man go down in a courtyard. I realized this was serious. These are real bullets flying around."

His date, Stephanie Bronson, added: "Just crazy. Absolutely terrifying."

David Dean, who owns a greeting-card store at the mall, said three or four people died inside his store, which was packed with Valentine's Day shoppers.
I would not be able to live with myself, knowing that people died, and I did nothing.

Why did this particular goblin decide to go shoot up a mall? I have a couple of ideas, but I will keep them to myself for the time being. We will see what is released by the police and other investigating agencies. One thing that I am very sure of, is that this will not be the last time we hear about an incidence of extreme violence happening in a mall. First will be the copycats, those folks who are on the edge and will see how easy it is to get their 15 minutes of fame. Then there is the ever present possibility of organized terrorist cells attacking malls. I had thought this would be more likely in states that prohibited it's citizens from protecting themselves, but this incident has made me change my mind. They can attack anywhere and at any time.

If you have a CHL, then carry your firearm. If you have a CHL, know how to effectively deploy your firearm. You may be the only thing standing between a goblin like this, and your family and others in a public place.

If you do not have your CHL (CCL in other states), I would recommend that you consider receiving appropriate handgun training and obtaining one. A free citizen has the responsibility to stand against violence.

Related news: Salt Lake City killer ID'd as Bosnian teen

Also commenting:

Shooting The Messenger

Free Constitution

The War on Guns

And most likely everyone else.


Fits said...

"..Ken Hammond, an off-duty officer from Ogden, north of Salt Lake City, jumped up from his seat at a restaurant after hearing gunfire and cornered the gunman, exchanging fire with him until other officers arrived,"

Kudos to the cop. But someone tell me how he engaged fire with an 18 year-old and didn't take him out then and there.

This is a valid point to remember. The police get instant back-up when one of their own is under fire. In nearly 50% of all encounters between an officer a criminal, the crininal wins, BUT is later taken down by reinforcements.

Never count on such speedy response times from ALL quarters when facing down a madman all by your lonesome.

Anonymous said...

From what I've gathered around the interweb tubes this mall was a "Gun Free Zone" and had signs stating such. I wonder if the off duty cop can be prosecuted for carrying in the mall or if they have some dispensation that average citizens don't have.


John R said...

I have also seen it mentioned that this mall was posted "off limets" to CHL holders. I am waiting further evidence of this before commenting.

Anonymous said...

Just called the Trolley Square Mall general manager, Dawn Catter, and she confirmed that they do indeed have signs asking their patrons to not bring weapons in, concealed or otherwise.


John R said...

That opens up the question about civil lawsuits against the mall for not allowing their patrons the ability to protect themselves. Obviously the mall did not provide adequate security. It could be argued that by declaring themselves a "gun free" establishment, they took on the responsibility of protecting individuals on the property.

John R said...

It does not appear that sinage posted at a mall in Utah holds weight for liscnesed individuals:

Utah prohibited places:

"It is unlawful for a person with a firearm permit to carry a concealed firearm in the following locations:

Any secure area in which firearms are prohibited and notice of the prohibition is posted

A secure area of an airport

Any courthouse, churches if posted, mental health facility or correctional facility that may provide by rule that no firearm may be transported, sold, given, or possessed upon the facility. At least one notice shall be prominently displayed at each entrance to a secure area in which a dangerous weapon, firearm, or explosive is restricted"


Anonymous said...

After some research I think I see the way they have gotten around that. The stores reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, if someone is armed they are asked to leave and if they choose to stay, they can be prosecuted for trespassing.


John R said...

That is the way the law reads here in Texas, I did not dig deep enough into Utah's laws to find the definition of criminal trespass.