One of the Times I Almost Bought It: Valley
Police Department, August 1987
"Good thinking. It probably saved your life!"
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.
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.
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
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…”
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!
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...
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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
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?!)
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.
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 trunck, 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.
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!
the shot gun into the car and take off after him! I shout, “STOP
OR I”LL BLOW YOUR FU**ING HEAD OFF!”
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!
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
“Well George, the guy says you’re his grandfather…”
says, "I’ve never seen that man before in my life.”
gets excited and says, “No, no! You’re my cousin’s
I say, “Well George, I think if you’re his cousin’s
grandfather, you’d still be his grandfather…”
says, “I still say I’ve never seen this guy before in
this time, two Sheriff’s Deputies and a Sergeant come screaming
up. “Randy! You Ok? Dispatch can’t get you on the radio!”
I’ve been kind of busy…” I replied.
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!”
takes the subject and I go over to see what Mike’s got. “Randy,
look what’s on the driver’s seat.”
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
I think this gun was meant to be used against you!” A cold
streak ran down my back…
glad I took him out of the car at the end of my shotgun.”
agreed, “Good thinking. It probably saved your life!”
Purple Sage Law Enforcement