Editor's Note: Law Officer has been looking for the best ballistic armor save stories on our Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/LawOfficer). We’ve gotten some incredible submissions from all over the country, each of which drives home the point—wear your vest! The following was shared by Dominick Romano in Bellingham, Mass.
The night of July 17, 2005, was cold in New York City. Only a few cars were out for the midnight tour so coverage was sparse. When it began to rain at about 1 a.m., the night took on an ominous feel. Calls were coming in but nothing too crazy.
But something changed around 2 a.m. “Shots fired” came over the air. In New York, “shots fired” could mean nothing—or it could mean everything! That night it meant everything—and more.
The address was right up the street. In the short ride over, my mind began to process what to expect. Expectation was far off from reality.
The scene unfolded outside a Roman Catholic Church. We patrolled the area, seeing and hearing nothing. After a while, I called into central to close the call out with ‘unfounded.’ But just then—BOOM! We backed up and made a U-turn. The sound was reminiscent of an M-80 firework. Just as we completed a 180-degree turn, we could see a man with a long object in his hand. He began to charge after us, firing twice in our direction. This was fight-or-flight time. With my adrenaline pumping and my mind racing, it was time to fight!
“Central, we have a man with a gun!” With those eight words, the whole precinct and nearby commands were coming. With every “show me going” coming over the radio, a calmness surrounded me, unlike anything I felt before. Being in the passenger seat, I felt it was my job to assess the situation and come up with a tactical plan. I directed my partner to park about 200 feet away from initial contact. Thinking this was enough of a buffer to give us a chance to prepare, we pulled over to the side of a park. As the car came to a stop, I knew there was a chance this may not end well—for us or the assailant.
I put my radio in my left hand and ripped my gun out of its holster. Just as I was opening the door and bursting out, I could hear the cries of my partner as he was shot in the leg. My mind was aiming for the park slide made of metal, knowing that was my only chance at cover since he was so close. As I exited, I took two steps and—boom.
All I remember was getting knocked to the sidewalk like I was checked in a hockey game. Once all the chaos was settled, I was transported to the hospital. Turns out the gunman had a sawed-off shotgun with double-OO shells standing about 15 feet away when he fired at me. One pellet struck my head and 8 pellets hit my back. Somehow while injured, my partner was able to return fire and injure the gunman.
My partner—and my vest—saved my life. Not one pellet penetrated my vest. All that’s left are faint scars—and an experience to last a lifetime.