As we reported yesterday (It Should Have Been A DGU) Andrea Rubello died during a police rescue attempt after a home invader had taken her hostage. As we predicted, police have announced that Ms Rubello was killed by so-called friendly fire. “In a tense confrontation with the officer, gunman Dalton Smith menaces our police officer, points his gun at the police officer,” Nassau County homicide squad Lt. John Azzata told usatoday.com. According to Lt. Azzata the responding cop fired eight shots at Smith. Smith was hit seven times and died. Rebello was shot once in the head and died. Apparently . . .
“Smith kept saying, ‘I’m going to kill her,’ and then he pointed the gun at the police officer,” Azzata said. Digging deeper, you’ve got wonder: did the cop have a chance to hold off or back off before the threat to him that led to Ms. Rebello’s death?
Rebello, a public relations major, was in the two-story home with her twin sister Jessica, a third woman and a man when Smith, wearing a ski mask, walked into the house through an open front door, Azzata said. Smith demanded valuables and was told they were upstairs, Azzata said.
Smith, apparently unsatisfied with the valuables upstairs, asked if any of the four had a bank account and could withdraw money, Azzata said. The intruder then allowed the unidentified woman to leave and collect money from a cash machine, telling her she had only eight minutes to come back with cash before he killed one of her friends, Azzata said.
The woman left for the bank and called police, according to Azzata.
Minutes later, two police officers arrived at the home and found Rebello’s twin sister Jessica running out of the front door and the male guest hiding behind a couch on the first floor, Azzata said.
One of the officers entered the home and encountered Smith holding onto Rebello in a headlock, coming down the stairs, Azzata said. Smith pulled Rebello closer and started moving backward toward a rear door of the house, pointing the gun at her head before eventually threatening the officer, Azzata said.
I wasn’t there. And even if I was, I don’t know I would have done the “right” thing. But there are [at least] three questions that need answering.
1. Did the first cops on the scene need to enter the house?
Knowing there was a hostage situation—not an active shooter scenario—was an immediate rescue mission a good idea?
How credible was that eight-minute deadline? Does that even matter? In other words, how long would it have taken for a SWAT team to respond and should the first responders have waited for SWAT regardless of any supposed deadline?
2. What kind of gun was the officer shooting, how far away from Smith and Rubello was he, what were the lighting conditions and how much training did he have? Did his training include hostage situations?
I’m not saying the cop should have “made the shot” (killing Smith and leaving Ms. Rubello alive). But the New York police have a horrendous record of shooting accuracy.
As with the Empire State fiasco (where nine civilians were injured by “friendly fire”) the police should immediately review the officers’ firearm (especially the amount of pressure required to pull the trigger), official policy for handling this type of situation, the cops’ firearms training regimen and administrative oversight of that training. The results should be made public.
3. What the hell was this Smith guy doing out on parole?
“Police described [Smith] as having an ‘extensive’ criminal background.” nypost.com reports that “Smith was identified by his fingerprints earlier today. He had been wanted since April for absconding from parole. His criminal record includes armed robbery and automobile theft convictions.”
Gun grabbers see these incidents as proof that the government should pass new laws to regulate “easy access” to firearms, to prevent criminals from getting ahold of [unmarked] nine millimeter handguns. Gun grabbers are nuts.
This incident proves that we must encourage civilians to carry the best possible handgun for their needs and train with it regularly, including high-stress simulations. That recipe includes the police.