Category Archives: Feats of Arms

Great Special Operations: A Platoon Seizes a Fortress, 1940

We have mentioned the German airborne forces’ capture of the Belgian fortress of Eben Emael before a few times, but we’ve never explored it in depth. In this incredible special operation, an overstrength engineer platoon, 78 men, led by a first lieutenant who wasn’t even there for the bulk of the battle, captured a fortress held by a garrison of approximately 1,100 men. It was not an old, obsolete fortress, either: it was one built just a few years prior. The concrete was scarcely dry!

The place was the Belgian fort of Eben Emael, named for two villages it sat between: its function was to protect the approaches to Liége. Ir did this by puttin the crossroads at Maastricht and the Albert Canal under gunfire, especially the bridges crossing the canal and related rivers, which were natural choke points. It was well equipped with 120mm and 75mm artillery pieces and 60mm AT guns, in reinforced concrete, steel-armored casemates.

This documentary shows how the Germans used new weapons (shaped charge explosives, assault gliders) to deliver an effective, economical attack that the defenders had not even conceptualized a defense against. It has five parts, which should load and play after the first.

It was produced by a thing called the History Channel, which used to exist before it discovered that more of the sort of people who watch TV like welfare recipients do drugs were interested in Finding The Ghost of Sasquatch than the history of a global war.

There are some interesting small arms in the video, including some MG.34s mit und ohne Lafette, and the relieving engineers are seen marching in with an MP.34 (or -28, perhaps) slung over an officer or NCO’s shoulder.

Eben Emael is the subject of a number of worthwhile books and papers; it’s a frequent flyer in war and command-and-staff college papers (here’s an example), and it was one of the case studies in Admiral William McRaven’s compendium, Special Operations. 

We’ve been reading a lot about European fortresses of the 20th Century lately. They essentially were a lesson mistakenly learned from the First World War, where defensive technology, tactics and operational art deadlocked offensives, a lesson obvious in 1914 that did not sink in until the generals who ran up the butchers’ bills on all sides were looking back at the event over port and cigars postwar.

Four nations built fortress chains, none of which availed them much in the 1939-45 unpleasantness. They were France, whose fabled and well-engineered Maginot Line was flanked; Germany, whose post-repudiation fortress construction seems to have been a propaganda effort; Belgium, the fate of whose fortresses in the face of Blitzkrieg is here recounted; and the Czechoslovak Republic, whose fortresses, similar to those of the francophone nations, were in those regions of the nation inhabited primarily by ethnic Germans, and ceded to Germany by the Munich Agreement in 1938.

In fact, the ex-Czech fortifications in the Reichsprotektorat Böhmen u. Mähren were used by Lieutenant Witzig’s Abteilung Granit troops to practice fortress takedowns, before they had to do it for real.

This is a tourism video promoting visits to Eben Emael in the here and now. Five minutes.

Here’s some B-roll (mostly) of a 2010 reenactment. In the historical case, there does not seem to have been this many Belgian defenders on the surface… just a few AA gunners with Lewis guns. The gliders also had wings, and the German guns didn’t jam this much…. Voice-over en français.

And this is a video of the fort today, with some role-players at work. Best part: you get to hear the actual sound of the fort’s alarm siren. And see what’s for sale in the gift shop.

Here’s another recent-day visit. Different views of some of the same role-players as above!

A tactic, technique or procedure is only new once. Even though Billy Mitchell proposed vertical envelopment in 1918, and even though Germany, Italy, Japan and the USSR had been training for it since the 20s and 30s, the paratroop elements of the invasions of April-May 1940 took Britain, France, and the neutrals by complete surprise.

The cost of the German victory in Crete the next year took the Germans, who had been encouraged by their 1940 results, by even greater surprise. But that’s another story!

Colonel Cross in the State House

This splendidly-hirsute fellow is the late (very late) Colonel Edward E. Cross, valiant commander of the 5th New Hampshire in the War Between the States. (That “valiant” is not ironic; the guy led from the front, with predictable consequences).

His portrait hangs in the State House, where members of the nation’s largest state legislature and their staffers see it every day the Legislature is in session (which is too many damned days, but that’s another story). Colonel Cross was just a figure mentioned in passing to us, until we received the following in a political newsletter.

If you ever walk the hallway near the south stairwell you’ll likely notice a number of portraits of individuals from the Civil War. Among those immortalized on the wall is Col. Edward E. Cross of Lancaster, NH whose portrait is located right outside of SH 103. Before joining the army Col.Cross was a reporter for the Coos Democrat, the Cincinnati Times and even started one of the first papers in the Territory of Arizona.

Col. Cross served as the commander of the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment for three years during the Civil War. Under his command the NH “Fightin’ 5th” served with distinction in battle at Fair Oaks, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. The 5th NH Vols. were always “first to fight” and earned the unfortunate distinction of losing more soldiers in battle than any other regiment.

Not a distinction that was much sought after, we’re thinking. And we’re not going to explore too deeply what that might have to say about the leadership of Colonel Edward Cross of the Fightin’ 5th.

It was during the battle at Fredericksburg that an artillery shell “burst in front of Col. Cross, and he fell, apparently lifeless”. Col. Cross was escorted off the battlefield and later recovered in an army hospital. To commend him for his bravery the men of his unit purchased him a sword and pair of spurs from Tiffany’s in New York.

Col. Cross returned to command the NH 5th Volunteer Regiment during the Battle of Gettysburg where he was mortally wounded on July 2, 1863. Just before the fighting he reportedly yelled to Confederate General Winfield Scott “this is my last battle” as if he knew what was to come of his fate.

Something doesn’t make sense here. Winfield Scott was a Union General, the elderly hero of 1812 and the Mexican War whom Lincoln sacked in 1861 and replaced with McClellan; he wasn’t at Gettysburg. There was a Confederate general named Winfield Scott Featherston, but he doesn’t seem to have been at Gettysburg, either. But that’s what our source (not online) says.

The “my last battle,” thing, though. Uh-oh. Sounds like foreshadowing, doesn’t it?

The sword and spurs on display here at the State House are the very set that was purchased for Colonel Cross by his unit unfortunately, he was killed at Gettysburg before they could be presented to him. Next time you find yourself by the south stairwell take pause to look at the portrait of Col. Cross and read more about the life of this incredible Granite Stater.

Now, you may never find yourself by the south stairwell in the State House in Concord, New Hampshire. Why would you?

But now you know a little something about Colonel Cross. And aren’t you glad you did?



Attack on Pearl Harbor: Survivors Speak

Today is the 75th Anniversary of the United States’ surprise entry into World War II, by virtue of the Japanese attack on American installations in Pearl Harbor on the Island of Oahu — as mail was addressed at the time, Pearl Harbor, T.H.. The attack was quickly followed up by attacks on Wake Island and the Philippines, and on English and Dutch possessions in the Far East. Except for Wake, where the initial Jap invasion was rebuffed on December 11th, these were all resounding Japanese victories. (And they settled their score with Wake on December 23-24).

Pearl Harbor was, from the Japanese side, a brilliant air-sea coup de main that exploited Japanese superiority in discipline, ship handling, personnel selection and training and naval air innovation. Within two years all those Japanese superiorities would be reversed (except for discipline, which would become the noose by which the IJA and IJN would hang themselves). But on December 7th, that was in the unimaginable future.

Pearl Harbor was, from the American side, a shock and a calamity. Americans and Japanese each saw the other from a prism of contempt, tinged by convictions of racial superiority. Three and a half years of mutual ass-kicking across a 7,000 mile theater of war would cycle the nations’ mutual feelings through bitter hatred to, ultimately, respect. Nobody fighting them believed the Japanese to be the shifty, nearsighted creatures of propaganda. And nobody fighting them believed the Americans to be the lazy, bloated creatures of their propaganda, either.

But it all began at Pearl. Here are some oral histories from The Guys Who Were There, collected for the 70th Anniversary, five years ago (although some of the interviews are much older than that). Lead-off interviewee, Alan Sanford, was a seaman on the USS Ward, which fired the first American shots of the war. The next, Joe Morgan, was a Marine with VMU-2 and on duty at his hangar at Luke Field… it just goes on like that.

It’ll take about an hour to watch them all. Since they’re talking head interviews, you could multitask ad just listen to them, but you’d miss the facial expressions.

Along with the interview video and audio, there are some (pretty awful) transcripts, too. And here’s Part 2:

The attack on Pearl was controversial in Imperial Japanese Navy circles, unlike the attacks on Singapore, Malaya, and the Netherlands East Indies. Those attacks were central to Japan’s strategy of seizing needed resources from the southern rim of the Pacific. But could they do that alone, without making the US attack? The prevailing opinion on the Imperial General Staff was that the US would join the war if Japan attacked the colonies of England and Holland. So, therefore, those attacks should be accompanied by a pre-emptive strike on the Americans, too; to be followed by immediate peace feelers.

The minority opinion was that the US would still cling to its European focus and neutrality, even if Japan was beating the British and Dutch forces like a rented mule. Now, 75 years later, it’s only an interesting counterfactual. What happened is they attacked us, in a way that seemed particularly treacherous and enraging, and for several months they continued to beat the living Jesus out of us… and then the tide turned, and the Japanese language nearly came to be, as one American threatened, “spoken only in Hell.”

In any event, all the prattle of historians and pundits, of which there will undoubtedly be tremendous billows and blasts today, is fairly inconsequential. What is true is the voices of  these few men, those who Were There.

So, What Use is TrackingPoint?

Here’s the deal that’s currently on. Tuesday they let us know that they’re down to 50 of them left, so they might be gone by now.

And here’s what it can do. Duel 1: 350 Yards, Off Hand, on a windy Texas day. Bruce Piatt is a National Champion — dude can shoot. But he gets one miss and one on the edge. (He’s using decent combat gear, including what looks like an FN carbine, and a 4×32 ACOG). Taya Kyle was at the time a novice shooter. She puts two in center of mass, using the Precision Guided Weapon.

Here’s a capability that you just don’t have without the PGM. Duel 2: Blind Shots, 200 Yards. Being able to engage the target without exposing yourself to enemy observation and fire is a completely novel thing. Sure, we’ve seen Talibs shoot at our guys like this, but these “Blind Shots” are aimed shots.

Yes, this is a completely unfair test, because it asks Bruce Piatt to do the impossible. With the ShotGlass, for Taya Kyle it’s possible.

Several of you have asked, why not spend the money on training and improve your skills? Bruce did that. He’s world-class good. (Yeah, soldiers and Marines shoot at this distance, but we’re shooting larger targets, and from a prone or foxhole supported position.

Taya didn’t do that, and yet, by exploiting the technology, she outshot Bruce. That is not to say Bruce’s skill acquisition was wasted time! After all, he’s lethal without all the gear. And he’d just be even better (more accurate and faster) if he was using the technology.

What use is Tracking Point? When we first started writing about it, we reminded you all of something Ben Franklin said. During his residence in Paris, one morning he was on his way to see an ascent of the pioneering French aeronauts, the Montgolfier brothers. And an intelligent lady, bemused by the American’s enthusiasm for this novel applied science, asked the great man, “What use is it?”

“My dear lady,” the prescient Philadelphian replied, “what use is a newborn baby?”

A century from now, weapons that don’t range and track targets for you, whether you’re a soldier or a hunter, will be nostalgia items, like muzzleloaders today.


Here’s the Shooter’s Calculator, a way to work your dope (at least initially) if you’re still doing the math somewhere other than inside your Tracking Point Precision Guided Weapon. Sent in by a reader who prefers to remain anonymous.

Update II:

If the embeds do not work (at least one Eurostani reports they are blocked at his location) then these raw HTML links to Vimeo might work.

If the raw links don’t work, we don’t know what to try next.

Ave atque Vale, Charlie Aycock

charlie_aycockCharles Aycock was a man you never forgot. If you didn’t know him, it is our mission to, by the end of this short blog post, make you regret that you did not. He made that easy,

He was a rare officer to have served in all components of Army SF — Active, Reserve, and National Guard Special Forces assignments; SF special mission units; and as a Department of the Army civilian supporting Special Forces.

After graduating SFOC, his initial assignment was in the National Guard 20th Special Forces Group. Volunteering for active duty and Vietnam, he served in MACV-SOG as a Hatchet Force leader and later attached to the combined interagency Phoenix Program. He served also in a variety of military free fall jobs, including as a team leader on an MFF Special Atomic Demolition Munition team.

He might have gotten a Regular commission, but he didn’t get his college degree until 1981, and then by assembling credits from here and there to get a degree from the Regents’ External Degree Program (now Excelsior University) of the State of New York. He actually did graduate level work (at the Command and General Staff College) before having a college degree. That was still possible in his generation — if a man had the talent.

He also had some thankless assignments, but that’s just the ebb and flow of a soldier’s career.

When he was named Distinguished Member of the Regiment (SF’s version of the downmarket Hall of Fame that some other special operations units have) in 2009, it was unfortunately overshadowed by having MOH recipient Col. Ola Lee Mize in his DMOR cohort. Mize earned his Medal the hard way — in Korea, in front of a swarm of screaming Chinese, wielding an entrenching tool when the ammo ran out. Had the other man been anyone but Mize, Aycock would have received the bulk of the news coverage.

He’d have hated that, most probably.

Colonel Aycock shared our highest award, the Combat Infantryman Badge, but he also had a bunch of still higher awards that we do not, like the Legion of Merit, the Presidential Unit Citation (as a personal award, as member of the unit when it earned the ribbon), and Master Military Free Fall wings. He passed on to one final reward that we have not, yet, at approximately 9 AM on the morning of 24 October 2016.

He is survived by a substantial family, many of whom inherited his gene for selfless service. While new greats are always arising, Charles A. Aycock can never be exactly replaced.

Ave atque Vale. 

A Last Great Act of Defiance

We don’t know this cat. We don’t know his name, his history or why he wound up where he was. It was what he did next that assured that his name is written forever in the saga of the great warrior race, the Pathans (Pushtuns).

We don’t even know he was a Pathan, as he says not a word. He might not have been; the ISIL followers in Afghanistan, like the Taliban before them, have made their ate-up religion an excuse for the ethnic cleansing of minorities such as Tajiks, Uzbeks, and especially Hazaras. (Our hero doesn’t look like a Hazara to me, but it’s a crummy video). So the Pathans who remember his story for the centuries may be his own people, or whatever survivors ultimately remain of the doomed tribe he was fighting.

This is what it comes down to: the choice between life, and perhaps death, as a free man, and the slavery inherent in allah hu akbar. 

Some day, that phrase will sound exclusively in the ears of the demons of Hell, because it is incompatible with the existence of free men, and free men shall win.

Amazing Long-Range Shot: 4,000 meters

That’s roughly 2 1/2 miles. Now, a few caveats are in order: the shooters had considerable equipment, they were shooting at a target larger than man-sized, and they had one hit (#3, they’re pretty sure) out of four shots at that range. Still, that shot is amazing. 

Rifle that took the shot. Sako TRG, Hensoldt scope. Orange rectangle is LabRadar.

Rifle that took the shot. Sako TRG, Hensoldt scope. Orange rectangle is LabRadar.

Erik B at The Firearm Blog has a long report and, if you’re interested in LR shooting, it’s incumbent on you to Read The Whole Thing™.  A tiny taste of his 3k-plus word report (which seems to be first hand by the shooters, and is much more detailed than the write-up on their Facebook Page). They started at 100 m to establish zero:

375 Cheytac zero was done with five shots. Scope turret bottomed to zero, impact was 26.8 mrads high. Last two after windage adjustment were very close each other. This elevation was used as base for further calculations, as zero POI offset value in ballistic application. Just before shooting started, I found out that my bubble level was sitting on table back home. This was serious setback. During both zeroing and shooting, reticle and rifle must be in absolute vertical level. This was difficult, as there wasn’t horizon reference visible. Velocities were compared constantly, with each and every shot.

Then to 1000 m to confirm zero. Then to 3000 m. They ran into problems with ranging binoculars (Steiner & Vextronix) “stalling out.”

Shot count was 15 when we got everything finally sorted and good hit on target. Good meaning that everything matched. That particular shot MV (MV = bullet muzzle velocity) was same we used on ballistic software and actual elevation adjustment matched perfectly to QTU firing solution on same time. Also most importantly and with that particular shot, I knew shot was good. As mentioned, maintaining readiness and bubble where it should to fire in 1-2 seconds after permission from ballistician-on-duty was extremely cumbersome thing to do.

Consistent muzzle velocity is key. Their loads were within a small range, but a 1 m/sec change in muzzle velocity causes an 80 cm vertical shift in impact point — meaning 1 fps change alters that impact point almost 10″ in the same direction. So you see that firing at 4000 meters is really at the ragged edge of what’s possible with field-employable sniper-type equipment, in 2016. At 4000 m:

[T]arget was fine-positioned and checked for clear line of sight, and first time I realized how long distance it actually was. It was far, ridiculously far. Very hard to even see with bare eye, but surprisingly still ok visible with 3.7x (or so) magnification. Target was ok, and we received permission to shoot.

Third, or possibly, fourth, shot was heard to connect by a forward observer.


Yeah, it’s not people-shooting precise (or hunting practical) yet, but the journey of a thousand miles (or 4,000 meters) begins with a single step.

The guys behind the shot are the Finnish precision-shooting shop and school, FinnAccuracy. They report on the conditions of the shot on their FB page:

Athmosperic conditions, Vaisala + Kestrel used:
– 22C / 71.6F. RH 78%. 996mbar / 29.41 inHg
– Worth mentioning also Labradar velocity radar. It worked like a charm and really eased things up during actual shooting. Precise MV knowledge is everything with such a long flight times.
– Bullet flight time to 4000m = 11.2 seconds. Gyroscopic spin drift + Coriolis effect only shift bullet approximately 8 meters / 9yds at 4km distance.
– Ballistic calculations done with Quick Target Unlimited

The reason that they think #3 was the money shot is because its MV was closest to their calculated value. #4, the other possibility, had a slightly higher MV on the radar, which they think put the round over the target. They have high confidence in the Canadian-developed LabRadar, which claims a 0.1% accuracy.

Stay tuned – we might have someting in mind for future too.

They were only half way through their planned range session when they scored the 4,005 m shot, and they have extensive manufacturer support from Sako (maker of the gun) and Lapua (whose Scenar bullets they used in .375 Chey-Tac handloads). They had previously said they have further ambitions in long range shooting, but…

It hs been a long way and we would like to do more like this- but we also have optics/accessory business to run. 

It’s true that a shooter 2½ miles out is not out of the reach of an enemy’s organic weaponry (mortars, artillery, tank main guns) but his signature even in the open is going to go unmarked by people in his target area. While this is a long way from being a practical sniping distance, at this time, when FinnAccuracy started off they were connecting at 2,000 m with .338 Lapua Magnum and that was a long way from being a practical sniping distance, then.

Usage: Open Carry Saves Her Life

Frank Taylor_mugshotMeet Frank Taylor. Don’t get too attached to him, because he’s a crumb, a violent criminal, and he’s already dead, dead, dead — where he can’t hurt anybody any more. Maybe he was a lovely guy 99% of the time, or maybe he was always prone to the kind of dyscivic activity that characterized the last hours of his life. We don’t know, although the fact that he already had a scowling mugshot on file is what intelligence officers call “an indicator.”

Moms Demand Action records his demise as a “gun death.” And it was, but not quite the way they mean.

As it happens, he took his chances on robbing a woman a fraction of his size (4’11″/85 lbs, aka 1.5m/39 Kg), and the gamble came up snake eyes for him, as he coughed out his last blood on an operating table soon thereafter. (We can just feel the groundswell of sympathy for the guy, all the way from Arizona).

Now, we’re not big fans of open carry, here. Why advertise? In summer months, when our service pistol would be hard to conceal in shorts and t-shirt, we downsize. (First Rule of Gunfights: Bring a Gun). But some people, like Carolann Miracle of Glendale, AZ, are built so lean that even a Baby Browning is going to print. You might as well carry the horse pistol, exposed, then.

A news channel tells part of the story:

The suspect, Frank Taylor , tried to bum a cigarette. She told him that she didn’t have one, and then seconds later, Miracle said, she could feel the barrel of the gun against her skin.

“He put the gun up to my neck and said, ‘It’s loaded, don’t move,’” Miracle said. ”I think he thought, ‘She’s a little girl. Maybe she doesn’t know how to use her weapon.’”

Miracle said, “I dropped my soda, released my gun from my holster and cocked it. I shot him and ran in the opposite direction.

She called the cops from home; meanwhile, others responded to the scene, where they called paramedics who transported Taylor to the ER, where attempts to save him — why? Not because he was worth saving, but out of sheer force of habit; it’s what they do — were unavailing.

“Every time you hear a peaceable carrier’s gunshot, a devil gets his bat wings.” Now Frank Taylor hangs, upside down, alongside his brethren in the Surprised Scumbag Hall of Infamy.

Carolann Miracle. From Dean's screen cap of a TV interview.

Carolann Miracle. (Note her Glock). From Dean’s screen cap of a TV interview.

Dean Weingarten has done some work on this story, and reached some conclusions we generally agree with:

Carolann’s father was a Marine.  He taught her well. …

Carolann did many things right.  The first was to instantly recognize the threat.  Many become mired in the thought that “this cannot be happening”; “this is not real”.  People who carry are much less likely to do that because they have considered the possibility of attack and prepared for it.

She did the right thing when she dropped her drink.  Dropping things to access your weapon or to fight better is not an instinctive reaction.  Many people instinctively hang on to useless things that impede their ability to fight.  I taught my students to practice dropping things at the beginning of a fight so that they could draw their firearm, and fight more effectively.

She did the right thing when she fled the area in the opposite direction from the way the attacker was going.  Many attacks, perhaps 50%, involve an accomplice.  She purposefully made the decision, moved to safety, then called the police.

Carolann’s response is common.  She did not want to kill her attacker. It was a consequence of what he forced her to do.  She would have preferred that it never happened.

Indeed, if Frank Taylor decided to get a job framing houses or working in a car wash, he’d be ahead, not dead, and poor Ms. Miracle wouldn’t have his soul, blackened and crabbed though it may have been, on her conscience.

But he didn’t. He decided he wanted to be an urban predator — the U-Boat of the modern urban environment. If Carolann hadn’t gone home to her three-year-old, if it’d been her vapor-locking on that operating table, that probably wouldn’t have troubled Taylor’s atrophied conscience at all. But she wasn’t the complacent victim he expected. The only problem with the lesson he learned from running into a Q-Ship is that his ability to pass the message on is somewhat curtailed.

Dean has a lot more; go Read The Whole Thing™. (His whole site is excellent).


“I’m not dying today. Not today…. It’s not my time yet”

When this happens in movies, we don’t believe it. You know the deal: in a gunfight with masked mopes, the off-duty cop fires right down the barrel of the bad guy’s pistol, hopelessly jamming the breech.

Well, it really happened, this January, and here’s proof, from the Jefferson County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office:


That’s a .40 XDM with a face full of .45, self-swaged in the .40 barrel.

Here’s a video with some more details:

“I’m not dying today. Not today. Another day, maybe. It’s not my time yet,” is what Jeffco SO Deputy José Marquez told himself when the gunfight kicked off with two masked and hooded thugs attacking him. Did they want to kill him? Kill his girlfriend and her kids? Rob them?

What they wanted didn’t really matter. It was live or die for Marquez. Fortunately, according to the official report by the DA, he had a good background:

Deputy Marquez stated … is a Deputy Sheriff with Jefferson County Civil Unit. He has been a Deputy with JCSO for almost 11 years (hired 4-18-2005). Prior to JCSO, he was a Summit County Sheriff Office Deputy for almost 10 years, and a Frisco Police Department Officer for almost one year. He was on the SWAT Team while with SCSO, and received specialized training via the Denver Police Department SWAT School. He last served on SWAT in 2001. Prior to his law enforcement career, he served eight years in the United States Army Reserve as a Combat Engineer and Supply Sergeant. He is right-handed, but can shoot from both sides, with both hands.

Go, Army. Beat Gangland.

Deputy Marquez…

…arrived at Ms. R.’s at about 5:45p.m. Some daylight remained when he arrived. He was armed with his duty weapon, a silver and black XDM .45 ACP. He has owned that handgun for three or four years, and has qualified with it. He had no other guns on his person. He carried his pistol in an open-top manufacturer’s holster, on his right side. His pistol was fully loaded, with thirteen rounds in the magazine and one round in the chamber. His ammunition was duty-issued hollow-point ammunition. He had an extra magazine in his car, but did not have it on his person, as he “wasn’t ready for a fight.” His pistol was concealed under his jacket. He had no visible Police badge, as his badge was in his wallet. Deputy Marques said that he is farsighted, and wears Oakley Crosslink vision glasses. He was wearing them during this incident.

So it wound up being XDM versus XDM in this case.

Then he saw two guys, and something was off about them.

The first male was wearing something over his face – either a mask, bandana, or part of his hoodie. The male already had his face covered when Deputy Marquez first saw him. The first male said, “Hello brother,” as he approached Deputy Marquez. He was about 20-25 feet away from his car when the first male said, “Hello brother.” Deputy Marquez had not yet made it to the sidewalk on the west side of the parking lot. He could only see the eyes and nose of the male. He could not see the male’s mouth or jaw. Deputy Marquez said: “Right away I knew something was up, cause he had a, a, a facemask.”

Deputy Marquez described the first male as follows: About 17-21 years old, 5’7”-5’9”, 155 pounds, wearing all dark clothing. Deputy Marquez knew he was a male as he could see around the eyes, and from the top lip to the nose on the male’s face, but could not comment on the tone of the male’s skin. He described the second male as follows: About 17-21 years old, same height and weight as the first male, wearing all dark clothing, possibly blue jeans. Deputy Marquez believed this male was also wearing a mask, but could not be sure, as he was focused on the first male. The second male was about 12 inches to the left of the first male, as they both approached from the south. This second male never said anything to Deputy Marquez.

The DA’s office is a bit hinky about identifying suspects by race (indeed, they seem to scrub it even from witness descriptions) but with this case they appear to have a reason, in that Marquez did not know who was coming to kill him. In a later interview, he remembered that his assailants were black.

Deputy Marquez described the suspects as two African-American males, between 16 and 20, wearing dark clothing, including hoodies.

Back to the developing situation….

No one else was outside during this incident, besides the two males. As they passed each other, Deputy Marquez said that the first male “turned on me” and said, “Give it up.” At that time he knew something “bad” was about to happen, and he thought, “Oh shit, we’re getting into a shootout,” and he turned to face the first male. He took the phrase, “Give it up” to mean, “He’s trying to kill me.” Asked if he thought it could mean he was about to get robbed, Deputy Marquez said that was possible, but he had no idea at that point, because, “At that point, I’m fighting for my life.”

Bear in mind, that, as we have seen in many shooting videos, Deputy Jose Marquez is describing in minutes actions and impressions that passed in bare seconds.

The first male then pulled out a black handgun and racked the slide as if to chamber a round or press-check the gun. That was the first time he saw a gun in the first male’s hands. Deputy Marquez again thought, “Oh shit. We’re going to fight.” When the first male said, “Give it up,” Deputy Marquez began to draw his weapon. As he did so, the first male fired a round at him, striking Deputy Marquez in either the right shoulder or the abdomen – he could not remember where he was first hit. He said that he saw the muzzle flash from the gun. He said: “At this point I told myself, ‘Shit, I’m going to die’.” He was in fear for his life. However, despite being hit, he could still lift his hand to fire. He said to himself, “I’m not dying today. Not today. Any other day, maybe. It’s not my time yet.” He also thought, “Fuck you, and you’re not taking me down.” He also told himself, “You’re the bad guy. I’m the good guy.”

Getting beaten to the first shot is bad, but it did make the DA’s job of investigating your shooting easier. But Marquez was late to the gunfight, already wounded, and he still had to survive. Fortunately he came up with a warrior attitude when he needed it: “I’m not dying today. Not today. ….Fuck you, and you’re not taking me down.”

Deputy Marquez said that he drew his weapon and started shooting. He believed he fired two rounds. He was standing in place, in a shooter’s stance, as he was firing. He fired in a northeast direction. The first male continued firing, hitting Deputy Marquez in the shoulder, and left and right sides of his abdomen. (He also suffered a broken rib on the right side, but was unclear if that was a result of a gunshot or not.)

Deputy Marquez said: “He kept shooting at me, like he was going to kill me.” The first male “shot about four rounds toward me.” The first male was standing still as he fired. The first male fired in a west or northwest direction. Deputy Marquez and the males were about 25 feet apart when they were shooting at each other. He thought he hit one of the males (unknown which one) in the leg. Asked how he knew that, he said his friend of 20 years, David Lynes, a Cherry Hills Village Police Department Officer, told him that after the fact. Deputy Marquez felt, in his mind, that he hit one of the suspects, but was not sure where, and did not see either male flinch as if they had been hit.

Tough shootout, and by some measures, Marquez lost the gunfight. But he did well enough to survive, and he thwarted his assailants’ objective, whether it was to rob him or (as seems more likely) to murder him.

Deputy Marquez fell to the ground, and put his hand on his wounds, but resolved that it was not a good day to die. Some civilians came to him, including an African-American female who said, “I saw them shoot you.”

She was probably the witness identified as E.G. in the report. The witnesses are not identified by full names due to the circumstances of the shooting, and the fact that one of the shooters remains at large. (More on the investigation in a moment).

Deputy Marquez confirmed that he was not robbed, and they did not take anything from him. Asked if at any time he told the suspects he was a Police Officer, Deputy Marquez said, “No, I didn’t have time to even announce myself. At, at that point I’m just fighting for my life.”

So why would anybody want to kill him?

He has received no threats from anyone, and has had no recent issues with anyone, personally or professionally, that might be linked to this shooting. He had no road rage incidents, and had never seen the two males before. Personally, Ms. R. has been having problems with her ex-husband, David R., who sent her a suspicious package recently, but Deputy Marquez had no evidence that was linked to this shooting. And professionally, the only possible JCSO-related party he could think of that might have something against him was a suspect named Antonio Garcia who went to prison on March 28, 2015 for a stolen gun, but Garcia was still in prison to his knowledge. Deputy Marquez believed the incident could have been a robbery, or “it could be a hit,” but again had no evidence to support it being a hit.

On a later interview, Deputy Marquez remembered more:

Deputy Marquez said the male who did the talking is the male who shot first, and he saw two different muzzle flashes coming from two different guns. Deputy Marquez said only one person did the talking. Deputy Marquez said he could only guess in reference to the shots fired. Deputy Marquez believed that they had shot four (4) times and when they ran away they shot four (4) more times as they ran off east. Deputy Marquez said he thought he had only shot two (2) times, and when the males ran off they were shooting at him not aiming. Deputy Marquez then collapsed but did not lose consciousness.

Deputy Marquez said that one male was on the left and the other on the right approximately twelve (12’) inches apart from each other. Deputy Marquez was concentrating on the muzzle flashes, right then left, left then right, and described the shooting as an exchange between all three of them.

The Guns Involved

Both of the would-be hitmen carried .40 pistols, and Marquez a Springfield XDM in .45. Marquez:

The Cop’s Gun

He was armed with his duty weapon, a silver and black XDM .45 ACP. He has owned that handgun for three or four years, and has qualified with it.

…Deputy Marquez had gunshot wounds to his stomach and shoulder. Deputy Marquez’s gun was lying on the pavement. Mr. C. described how some of the gunshots sounded “different”, and thinks Deputy Marquez got off two shots because he carries a ‘big” pistol.

Prior to the interview a bullet count was conducted on the gun that Deputy Marquez fired on the 26th of January 2016. The gun had been in Aurora Police Department Crime Laboratory in a secured locker.

The firearm was identified as a Springfield Armory, XDM serial number of MG505244. The bullet count confirmed a total of 10 rounds remaining in the firearm, 9 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber. The firearm has a capacity of 14, 13 +1. The ammunition was identified as Speer 45 auto, and was issued to Deputy Marquez by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Marquez confirmed this was the only gun he had on his person the 26th of January 2016, and the only gun he fired that night.

Found at the Crime Scene

APD Officer Nicholas Muldoon arrived on the South Laredo scene and contacted a witness identified as R.W. Mr. W was parked in a van on South Laredo Street. Mr. W said that he arrived shortly before the police and observed a male walk away from the car– Chevrolet Equinox–parked in front of his van. The male who walked away from the van was later identified as Jahlil Meshesha.

APD Officer Ken Forrest conducted a general search of the area and located two black gloves and a .40 caliber XDM Springfield handgun in the backyard of a nearby house. Officer Forrest observed one glove was in a juniper tree and the other was on the ground below. A short distance away, Officer Forrest located the handgun. Officer Forrest contacted the homeowner, who was identified as S.G. Mr. G. allowed Officer Forrest to check his back yard. Mr. G confirmed he had no knowledge of the pistol or glove in his backyard.

On the front passenger seat of the Chevrolet Equinox in plain view, Officer Forrest also observed a dark colored facial mask, described as consistent with being used to cover the lower face.

APD collected firearms related evidence from the scene. APD collected 12 expended .40 caliber shell casings, in two groups fairly close together. They also collected one fired bullet. They also collected four .45 caliber shell casings, which was the caliber of Deputy Marquez’s gun.

As previously stated, APD also recovered a .40 caliber Springfield Armory handgun associated with Jahlil Meshesha. Per APD firearms analyst Alan Hammond, this gun was a match for three of the .40 caliber shell casings found at the scene. Police also recovered a .45 projectile from Meshesha’s clothing, specifically his pants, which was a match for Deputy Marquez’s gun.

Meshesha’s Gun

The weapon associated with Meshesha was examined. Of note, it was determined that one of the shots that Deputy Marquez fired from his .45 caliber handgun actually hit Meshesha’s .40 caliber handgun and traveled down the barrel, colliding with a cartridge that was in the chamber of the gun. Detective Ingui described this as a “one in a billion thing” in a personal conversation with the undersigned. This collision rendered the .40 caliber pistol temporarily inoperable. Thus, we can conclude that Meshesha fired three shots before this happened, based on the shell casings found at the scene, and that he was pointing his gun at Deputy Marquez when Deputy Marquez fired the shot that hit the gun, otherwise the shot from Deputy Marquez would not have gone down the barrel. Here is a photograph showing the results of this collision.


Unfortunately we don’t have Meshesha’s side of the story.

Jahlil Meshesha invoked his Miranda rights and did not make a statement.

A healthy society would have hanged him already.

The 26 January shooting is back in the news because the investigation is over and they wanted to announce to the public that Marquez is not going to face ay criminal charges. (Well, duh). His assailant went to hospital, then to jail.

He does have a long road to recovery ahead. As for the injuries to the assailant Jahlil Meshesha, all we can do is quote Marquez: F him.


The Denver Post:

Apologies for not posting the link to the DA’s report:

The Eagle has Landed

Safely. In a clump of brush. After being saved with 150 precisely delivered rounds of .22LR from a scoped 10/22. Jason Galvin, an Army vet of Afghanistan, stepped up to do the right thing for the national symbol.

If that’s all pretty confusing to you, maybe you better just watch the video.

The eagle, named Freedom (what else?), is recovering and vets at the University of Minnesota are cautiously optimistic about his chances. If he comes to be released back into the wild, Jason and Jackie Galvin have asked one thing: could you bring him back home, to our lake?

Without the rope, this time.