Wrestleing With an Animal: Wood
River Police Department, Summar 1981
"Welcome to Wood River!"
working for the Wood River Police Department as a part time Police
Officer during the summer of 1981. I had been recommended for the
job by the Chiefs of Police of both Gibbon and Shelton, Nebraska.
I was still working at my full time job for the Emergency Communications
Center, GIEC at Grand Island, and was still living at Grand Island
was my first shift where I was working alone in my new job, and
I started my patrol shift around 6:00 PM that Friday Evening. Early
in the shift, (the sun wasn’t even down yet,) I was contacted
via radio from Deputy 9087 – Jim Hitt. He was going to serve
an arrest warrant for a subject residing in town, and asked me to
assist in case there was any trouble. The warrant was for fail to
appear in court on a traffic violation in Adams County. In most
cases, the service for such warrants was typically uneventful, but
then sometimes things could get ugly, so it was not uncommon to
have two officers make the arrest if possible.
This quiet little house in Wood River, Nebraska
was the scene of all this comotion.
the front door to the residence, and Jim knocks on the door. …No
response. Jim knocks again, a bit louder. A voice loudly replies,
“Who is it?!”
shouts back, “Sheriff’s Deputies! We need to speak with
a long pause, then a reply, “Come back Tuesday!”
calmly, but firmly replies, “I’m afraid we can’t
do that. We need to talk to you now.”
There’s another long pause, then the voice inside shouts,
“Come back Tuesday! Now get the f**k out of here and leave
shouts back, “Sir..! Sir..! We can’t leave until this
Jim beats on the door some more, “Sir..?! Sir?!”
that time we hear the unmistakable sound of what sounds like a shotgun
being chambered! We retreat back to and behind our patrol cars.
Jim is calling in that we have a possible armed subject barricaded
inside the house, and that further assistance is needed. While the
radio is chattering away as the dispatchers are marshalling resources,
the subject opens his front door, and steps out onto the porch holding
the butt of his shotgun on his hip like John Wayne. He shouts at
us, “Where are you guys from? Hastings?”
Jim replies, “We’re from Grand Island!”
if you’re not from Hastings, I’ll talk to you.”
points out that the shotgun is making us real nervous, and that
we’d be happy to talk to him if he’d put the shotgun
down. The guy agrees, leaning the weapon against his house by the
front door… We both rise from out positions behind the patrol
car, when the subject shouts, “I’ll only talk to one
of you!” So I stay back behind the car, while Jim approaches
guy looks like he’s obviously drunk. And maybe he would have
been in a better mood had he been sober. The two are conversing
at the bottom of the two or three stairs leading up to the front
poarch. About five minutes into the conversation, I notice that
Jim is little by little getting between the subject and his shotgun.
Suddenly, the subject figures out what’s going on and lunges
toward the gun! Jim grabs him, but the guy pulls away! Jim tackles
the guy and they both fall through the door, away from the shotgun.
up to assist to find that the fight is now on! This guy is stronger
than an ox, and he’s feeling no pain! Soon, all three
of us are rolling around on this guy’s filthy living room
floor, as he dragging Jim and I toward the dining room. We get a
hand cuff on one wrist, but we can’t get to the other wrist.
I tried calling out on my radio, but we could not hit the repeater
from inside the house. About this time I reach around with my left
arm to try to put this animal into a head lock, when he chomps down
with his teeth into my right arm! He’s drawing blood, and
I can’t get him to let go! Finally, I tell Jim to pinch the
guy’s nostrils closed. As soon as he did, I forced my arm
deeper into the subject’s mouth, cutting off his air supply.
As soon as he gasped for breath, I pulled my arm out! Now I pull
my stick from my belt, and wedged it under the subject, like a lever.
Now Jim was able to draw the guy’s arm around to put the other
cuff on him.
up, leaving the subject on the floor. My uniform shirt is all tore
up, and blood, both mine and the subject’s is all over my
t-shirt. We’re both covered in dog crap that stuck to us while
rolling on the floor. Jim looks around for his hand held radio,
and can’t find it. (It was lying outside on the ground.) I
grab my radio off the floor, but I still can’t hit the repeater
from inside the house. Jim says, “I’ll stay with the
prisoner, you go make contact…”
outside to find weapons leveled at me by the Nebraska State Patrol
SWAT Team, and about half of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office!
I pull my uniform shirt so all can see my badge; bring the radio
to my face to announce, “Situation 10-4. 10-15 in custody.”
Everybody, including the crowd of bystanders all broke out into
deputies ran up and into the house to drag the subject out, with
Jim following. My Chief was there, along with the Sheriff. “What
the hell happened?”
our verbal synopses of how and what happened. The Sheriff says,
“You should have called out on the radio. Why didn’t
you call out?”
that there was no time to call out as initially as we didn’t
want the subject to get to his gun. After that, we couldn’t
hit the repeater from inside the house. Jim agreed.
Chief looks at me and says, “Welcome to Wood River! Now go
home, put on a clean uniform and then go to the hospital to get
At the hospital in Grand Island, they cleaned the wound on my arm
and dressed it. It was deep and nasty! “That’s going
to leave some scars…” the nurse announced. What’s
was more painful than the wound, was the shot they gave me in my
day, in the summer when I get tan, several white marks in a semi-circle
become visible where this guy chomped down on my arm with his teeth!
The first of many scars yet to come…
Purple Sage Law Enforcement