Medal of Valor

Mayflower Motel

Pittsfield Township

County of Washtenaw

Oct 8, 1994 1445 hrs

 

This happened when I was back in uniform and working road patrol on a day shift. I had made my bones and was the Junkyard Dog of the Department. I was difficult to manage, rough looking, not easy to pet but nobody stole your shit while I was on duty. I often led the shift in quality arrests and investigations and trained the best rookies and because of that I got away with more than most. My mustache was always outside of the department guidelines. My boots resembles suede and were beyond needing a coat of Kiwi.

I worked hard. I was at peak performance and running on all cylinders. I knew my place within the department and took full advantage of all the bullshit I could get away with.

I frequently drifted outside the bounds of my designated patrol area to back-up Ypsilanti City PD or Pittsfield Township PD or for any fucking reason I felt like. I got a lot of unfounded citizen complaints and I was the subject of more than one lawsuit against the Department.

Back to this snowy fall day. The Police radio was quiet and I was listening to the Michigan vs Michigan State football game on AM radio. My patrol unit was wired up with my personal Police Scanner, which I used to keep track of anything going on in adjoining jurisdictions.

The Pittsfield PD channel crackled to life “All units prepare to copy. A white male subject just entered the Mayflower Motel and has taken a hostage at knife point. The subject has barricaded himself with the hostage in the kitchen area”.

I think to myself, “Damn that sounds juicy”, and begin to work towards the motel and out of my patrol area. I didn’t advise Dispatch of my intent to assist Pittsfield.

I arrive in the parking lot and see several Pittsfield Township marked units scattered around the buildings.

The Mayflower motel and lounge was a low series of buildings which included a dozen motel rooms densely packed together. In the center of the parking lot was the kitchen, restaurant and lounge parts of the business. The motel was once at a  crossroads for many people traveling from Detroit to Chicago but had been bypassed by other roads. Wounded by progress, it had begun it’s death spiral serving the occasional customer as profits diminished and the buildings called out for repair. For years it had been used more by illicit daytime lovers than passing travelers. Red Brick dashed dusty dreams where Love was made and lost.

Mayflower Motel postcard, Michigan Avenue at Carpenter Road, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

“Dispatch be advised I’ll be out at the Mayflower assisting Pittsfield Township”.

As soon as I stepped out of the cruiser I was in the middle of an unexpected shit storm. I approached the door that opened to the restaurant. Just outside the door were two uniformed Township Officers with their guns at the low ready.

I called out to the one I knew the best. “Hey Jim, I’m a negotiator want me to take a crack at this guy”? Without hesitation Jim says “Go for it Rat, He’s got her in the kitchen”. I asked what he was armed with and was told a knife.

As Pittsfield Officers were trying to lock down the perimeter I stepped through the door and into the dining area. Directly across from me was an open door to the kitchen. Just inside that door and at the base of an open steel cabinet I could see the Victim, Marylou Marker. She was sitting on the floor with the Perp right behind her. He had a knife pressed to the center of her chest and was telling her if she moved again he’d stab her in the heart. The Perp was using her body as a shield and only exposed a small portion of his head, one eye – one ear, directly behind Marylou’s head.

I was 20 feet away and considered attempting the shot, to hit the Perp in the forehead the next time he stuck his head out. I was one of the better shooters on the Department but thought it way too risky.

The Perp saw me and called out, “I want to talk to you!” He recognized me as a County Sheriff and thought I outranked the others. “Keep your hands where I can see them”, he said. Perfect I thought, this is just what I want. I start to slowly walk towards the Perp’s position. When I got within 10 feet he began screaming for me to get back. I didn’t back up but I couldn’t close the distance any more. There I stood in the kitchen doorway.

Again I can remember the finest details of what happened next.

Marylou, the hostage, was the mother of the business owner and was well into her 60’s. She had her hands crossed over her heart as the knife pressed against the back of her top hand. Her eyes were filled with fear and terror, all white and red and wide open staring at me. I was sure this was the worst moment of her life. There were injuries to her chest and hands from the constant pressure of the knife tip. The front of her blouse was covered in blood.

The Perp had picked up the knife when he entered the kitchen and took Marylou hostage. It was one of those cheap steak knives, flexible, serrated and slightly rounded at the tip with a black wooden handle. It had been used a thousand times before. It was about to be used for the last time.

“I want a helicopter, the State Police and Channel 7 news here right now.” Perfect, I begin to negotiate. Negotiations are about venting steam and passing time. Out of the corner of my eye I can see a SWAT officer in the kitchen but blocked from view of the Perp or Victim. He was trying to line up a shot. I expect to see the Perp’s head explode any second, Be Cool I think to myself. Pans rattled on the rack, the Perp tensed and began shouting “Get Back – Get Back.” He pressed the knife tip into the back of her crossed hands a little deeper. More blood seeped. More damage done. Closer to the Line.

I stood my ground and asked his name.  He lied and said James. I told him I was working with the bosses to get the helicopter and the news crew but it would take a little time. Marylou continued to stare into my eyes. I had to ignore her as even acknowledging her could only increase her perceived value to him.

“James you gotta be careful with the knife” I said. He wasn’t and continued to get more and more agitated with Marylou because she was trying to push the knife tip from the back of her hands. I can see she is getting more small injuries to her hands as he presses the tip deeper and the blade bent.

I knew I wasn’t getting through to this guy. I couldn’t keep him focused. During my approximate (10) minutes of negotiations I offered to exchange myself for the hostage. He considered but refused. He positioned himself to better be shielded by Marylou’s body. She grows more panicked and desperately fearful. I put my hand behind my back and made a gun signal to the perimeter Cops. I was telling them to shoot this guy if they could. I was signalling that I didn’t think I could save Marylou with words. It would take something more.

The Perp screamed at Marylou “If you don’t quit moving I’m gonna stab you right through your fucking heart.”

Everything I’m about to tell you happened in fractions of seconds.

The Perp stabbed Marylou twice through her hands as they were crossed over her heart, he was trying his best to stab her heart. She push the knife away and he sliced her open. Blood spurted.

I draw my service weapon and closed the distance between us. He sees me, gun in hand, and drops completely behind Marylou. I dive on the pile and ended astride the Perp’s legs and Marylou is gone.

He comes up, knife in hand, and stabs at my heart. I raise my left hand partially deflecting the knife thrust and get stabbed in the back of my hand. The knife skims off and contacts my bulletproof vest and bends. If he had picked a better weapon to begin with I might not be here today.

I could have shot him. I should have shot him.

My 9mm Glock was in my right hand. I brought it with full force into his left temple. I felt bone break and he slouched. I gave him another, just like the first, for good measure. He was bloody and unconscious, the threat was over. Mission accomplished.

I was bloody. The room was bloody. Other Cops hog tie and cuff the Perp. The bosses descend. Ambulances are called and Marylou is transported to the hospital with treatable wounds (She would live longer but always filled with fear. She would never be the same).

I grabbed a couple of paper towels and try to stop the bleeding from the back of my hand.

I can remember thinking how surreal everything seemed and that I should savor the moment.  Time was frozen as I wandered into the front bar lounge. I walked behind the bar and fixed myself a rum and coke and sat in one of the red swivel chairs. Someone drug the Perp by his ankles into the room with me. He was face down bleeding into the beer stained carpet. I quietly hear his gurgled breathing as he tried to find new airways through his newly broken nose.

“Fuck you” I say in his direction.

My First Lieutenant makes the scene and comes into the lounge area where the Perp is still unconscious and bleeding out on the floor. I have a drink and the Lieutenant examines my wound and starts to order up an ambulance for me.

“Fuck that LT. I haven’t taken an ambulance ride in my whole career and I sure as shit ain’t gonna start over this. If you want to order up an ambulance for somebody dickhead over there could probably use one.” I thumb towards the Perp.

The LT rolls the Perp over, says “OH Shit”, grabs his prep and starts ordering an ambulance for the guy that really needed one.

I laugh and finish my drink. I left a five on the bar.

Good Times.

 

 

 

 

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Bad day for Frank

Frank was my mentor and he is a Brother of mine.  He is a fire plug of a man who served as a submariner before becoming a Cop.  We experienced much together.  After my first 3 years on road patrol I was promoted to Detective.  It was there and then that Frank and I formed a bond that endures to this day.  It was Frank that taught me the art of the Interview.  He taught me the guilt that consumes some men wants to get out.  You have to create a way for it to happen.  No matter how horrible or disgusting the crime you will have to “understand”.
 
During the interrogation of a pedophile I have said something like this, “Look I understand how this happened.  Your niece was bouncing around on your lap and your dick got hard, you wouldn’t be a man if it didn’t”.

The hook was set.  He thinks I’ll understand his particular perversion.  It all makes me sick to my stomach to think about it now.

The confessions were worth the price.

I digress. I started writing about a bad day for Frank…

Frank and I were on the Hostage Negotiations Team or HNT together.  Frank was a seasoned veteran of the Department with a varied background.  His primary assignment was Polygraph operator.  He conducted two interviews each day.

We were both on call for any HNT call outs.  Most of them went something like this.

A drunk gets pissed because his neighbor’s dog won’t quit shitting in his petunias.  The drunk blast the neighbor’s dog in half with a shotgun while it’s hunkered up.  The police get called and the place is surrounded.  The drunk takes a pot shot out the window.  SWAT and HNT make the scene.  Most times, after hours and some sobering up, the perp would surrender.

Well, that’s the way it worked most often.

In the “Old Days” things were done differently.  Now negotiations rarely take place face to face.

Decades ago Frank was called out on this job.  A Vietnam veteran had returned home and had trouble adjusting to his reclaimed life.  He drank too much.  He was pissed off at the VA for not giving him the meds he thought he needed.  Then he got arrested.  Then he got a bad case of cancer.  Then his wife left him, taking his daughter with her.  Then she sent the Sheriff’s Office out to check his well being.  Then he barricaded himself with a shotgun under his chin.

Frank entered the residence and did a face to face with this desperate human being.  His name was Frank too.  He sat on the end of the bed with the shotgun between his bony knees.  Only once, over the next 2 hours, did he make eye contact with Frank.

He spoke of Vietnam, of cancer, of his daughter.  He howled out in real emotional pain.  Frank listened and tried his best to reach out but he knew he wasn’t getting through.  Frank had real problems without solutions.

Frank of Vietnam began to cry.  He wanted his daughter to get his death benefit and life insurance payments.  He knew that if he committed suicide that would not happen.  It would be one of the last things he cared about.  His love for his daughter was powerful.

SWAT had the place surrounded.  Vietnam Frank said he was done talking and he told Frank to leave the room.  Frank begged him over and over not to do it.

“You don’t want to witness this” said the man of short time.

“I can’t leave” said Frank.

For the first time Vietnam Frank looked Frank right in the eye…

“Sorry Bro” – BOOM

In that moment Frank was changed forever.

Frank would pay another price.  He told everyone Vietnam Frank had leaned over to reach his coffee cup and the shotgun accidentally discharged.

Everyone knew he lied.

A dead man’s wish was fulfilled.

Justice is sometimes strange.

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.