|The Perforated Cross - A true story|
|The Perforated Cross - A true story|
|Written by Brian R. Arnspiger|
The date was May 15th, 1977 when my life changed forever. I was a police officer with the Burbank Police Department in California. Working a special burglary suppression detail in plain clothes, I was driving an unmarked police vehicle. We had been experiencing numerous business burglaries in the Magnolia Park area of Burbank. I was patrolling the alleys behind the businesses, when I felt ill. It was five o'clock in the morning so I drove to the Police Department to request a few hours off. While standing in the Watch Commander's office an alert tone sounded. The alert was dispatched as "Burglary in Progress, Price Club."
The Price Club was just one block away from the Police Department. I ran out the back door to my police car in response to the alarm. Just as I reached my police car, another officer pulled into the station and waved me to his vehicle. I jumped in the passenger seat.
We arrived within two minutes of the call. The owner of the Price Club was standing at a phone booth at the rear of the business. Tony, told us he had come to work early and upon entering the rear of his business, he observed merchandise piled up by the rear door.
He also heard a chair dragged across the floor on the second floor. Tony said, he immediately went to the phone booth next to the rear door and telephoned the police. My partner Robert and I told Tony to go to his vehicle and we took up positions at opposite corners of the building. We asked for backup units to assist us with a search of the building. I was positioned at the N/W corner of the building , adjacent to the alley.
Looking down the alley, I could see an alcove towards the middle of the north wall. Fearing the alcove might go all the way through the building, I slowly inched my way down the wall with my two inch Smith & Wesson revolver, in hand.
There was a telephone pole about ten feet west from the N/W corner, and I slowly moved toward it for cover. I left the cover of the telephone pole and continued inching my way along the wall. I was within twenty feet of the alcove. Suddenly I heard a metallic sound and felt something really bad was about to happen.
Moments later the figure of a man dressed in a leisure suit with long black hair and mustache, appeared in the alley. The suspect was looking right at me, but what riveted my attention was the handgun he held, a gun that was pointing at me! I didn't know if the suspect was a Security Guard or a burglar. Using police procedure, I yelled out "Police Officer, freeze"!
The words hadn't left my lips when the suspect fired two rounds at me, both going by my head with a "Whizz" sound. I went into a combat crouch position and fired six rounds back at the suspect. After the first round I was blinded, because of a ten inch flashback from my two inch barrel. I prayed I'd hit the suspect, when all of a sudden his third round caught my upper right bicep.
It felt like I was struck with a baseball bat and I knew I was in trouble. Suddenly I found myself falling to my right and rolling in the alley. It felt like someone had pushed me. After thinking about this later, I truly believed it was my guardian angel who had pushed me out of harms' way.
While rolling, I lost my portable radio but was able to eject the cartridges in my handgun and reload using a speedy loader from my belt. I feared the suspect was going to approach me while I was on the ground, and fire a bullet into my head. I was helpless and blinded by my own handgun.
Suddenly my eyes began to clear, and I looked down the alley to see the suspect running towards the mall area. I rose up from the ground and picked up my portable radio. I broadcast the suspect's flight path and requested an Ambulance respond. At that moment my partner Robert came around the corner and yelled for me to get into his patrol car. My right arm was bleeding and I had blood oozing onto my jacket sleeve from the bullet hole. I applied direct pressure on the wound.
Enroute to the hospital, I heard another officer report that the suspect was in custody. We arrived at the hospital moments later and I was placed on a gurney. Doctor Jones, the Emergency Room Doctor approached me. I told him I'd been shot in the upper right bicep area. Doctor Jones removed my hand from the wound and cut away my jacket sleeve and shirt sleeve. I looked away fearing the wound was bad. Doctor Jones patted me on the shoulder and said, "It's just a deep flesh wound".
I was relieved and thankful that I'd survived. While Doctor Jones was attending to my wound, I heard one of the officers on the radio requesting an ambulance for the suspect. A few minutes later the ambulance arrived at the hospital and rolled a gurney in with the suspect. The gurney was blocking the doorway where I was being treated, and I could clearly see it was the man I'd faced in the alley. His hands were outstretched with gloves on and there was a pen light protruding from his shirt pocket.
I thought to myself these were common burglar's tools. Doctor Jones approached the gurney to check the suspect's vital signs. At the same time the acting Sergeant came into the room and told me one of my rounds hit the suspect in the chest area. I knew it had to have been my first shot. Moments later, I saw Doctor Jones lift the sheet on the gurney and pull it over the suspect. I heard Doctor Jones say, "He's dead; take him down to the morgue". At that moment I felt all the emotions in me well up at once.
I reached down and grabbed a white cloth to cover my face to hold back the tears. I thought to myself, I'm alive but another man is dead by my hand. After the initial shock wore off, I asked to see my Pastor. He responded quickly to my side. He told me I had no choice in the matter, and that God forgave me. Those words helped me more than I can say. When I got back to the police station, and went down to the locker room, I fell to my knees and thanked God for saving my life.
After being interviewed by my Lieutenant I was sent home to my family. I was grateful to be alive and home with my wife and three children. Later I was told the suspect I'd faced in the alley had recently been released from prison for the third time. He was in prison for robbery. He not only robbed people, he liked to pistol whip his victims. He had confided in his prison cell mate, that if he was ever caught on the street again, he would never be arrested again; he would hold court in the street.
At night, for days I would relive the shooting and wake up in a cold sweat, knowing how close I came to death. I truly believed I had divine intervention, when I felt pushed and rolled in the alley. Because I'd done that, the suspect apparently believed he'd finished me. The suspect then ran down the alley with two bullets remaining in his handgun.
The suspect was stopped by another officer with a shotgun as he ran down the mall. Three days had gone by, when I thought to myself, I have to go back to the scene and see what the metallic sound was just before the suspect appeared in the alley. I found the window the suspect had crawled out of. Next to the window or point of exit, was a metal drain pipe. Hanging down from the metal drain pipe was a metal perforated strap.
Apparently when the suspect crawled out the window, his shoulder brushed the metal strap which banged against the metal pipe. That sound alerted me to the danger I was about to face. They say God works in mysterious ways and I know he was standing next to me on that day, protecting me from the evil I had faced. I cut about a twelve inch piece of the perforated metal strap from the pipe. I went home and made a cross out of the perforated strap to remind me of how lucky I was to be alive.
Since that day, the cross I'd made, has been given to three people who have cancer of some kind. After hearing the story of the strap, each of the cancer patients wanted to hold it and pray with it. Believe it or not all three people are now free of cancer and truly believe the perforated cross was the reason.
When I am troubled, I pray with my perforated cross and everything seems to work out. I truly believe God has given me a gift to share with other people.
When I was a teenager I used to carry a picture of a young boy on a ship. The boy was standing behind the ships' steering wheel. God was standing right behind him. The picture read: "God is my Co-Pilot". God was my co-pilot on that dark day. Ninety-six days before the shooting, I'd pulled a man from a burning vehicle, just before it exploded.
The man suffered severe respiratory distress from inhalation of smoke; but lived. I had experienced both a life and death situation within a period of ninety six days. In 1977 I was awarded the first Burbank Police Department Medal of Valor for both incidences. God is real and always with us through our guardian angels.
"There but for the grace of God go I.
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