One Year Later: Vic Stacy and the Peach House Shootout

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By Dean Weingarten

When I first heard the reports of a pistolero making a long shot, stopping a mass murder and saving the life of a police officer a year ago, I knew that I would work to find the details if the possibility were offered. I found that opportunity and was able  to answer many of the questions that came to mind at the time. After I had interviewed Vic Stacy, I told him that I would wait until the Grand Jury  delivered a no bill before writing about what happened. This is the story of the Peach House shootings . . .

Vic Stacy heard the shots while he was watching a movie on the Sunday afternoon of July 29, 2012. He thought someone was shooting at the nearby small reservoir or “tank” as they’re called in Texas. Then the phone rang. It was his neighbor and friend who needed help. Armed help. There was a dead woman only feet from his doorstep and he asked Vic to bring a gun.

Early is a town of about 3,000 in the middle of Texas. The Peach House RV park is located five miles outside of town. It’s a small park with only a dozen spaces. When Charles Conner decided to go on a murder rampage, only six of the spaces were occupied. Conner was know for his irrational bursts of temper over minor events.

On the 29th that temper boiled over into murder over a dispute about dog droppings. Conner had been arguing with David Michael House, 58 and Valentina Martinez Calaci, 53. The couple owned two dogs and had arrived from Arizona a few weeks earlier. Conner left the two, went back to his fifth wheel trailer, procured a 9mm pistol and returned to the couple’s RV. There he shot House, who fell within 20 feet of the RV.

Space where the victim’s RV was parked

Valentina fled, but was pursued by Conner who shot her, too. She fell to the ground only feet away from the RV of the friend who called Stacy. Valentina had a cell phone in her hand, and had not yet died when Conner approached and fired another shot, execution style.

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Valentina fled toward this RV, which Vic Stacy’s friend occupied. She fell about 15 feet past the front of the RV.

Conner then went back to the couple’s RV, shot and killed the two dogs and returned to his fifth wheel. That’s when Stacy received the call for help, grabbed a .357 stainless Colt Python with a six inch barrel and headed toward his friend’s RV.

Stacy pushed the pistol contained in a leather holster of his own making under his shirt so as not to draw attention to himself and went to his friend’s aid. As Stacy went out the door of his trailer, he passed a scoped Bushmaster AR-15 with a loaded 30-round magazine. He later reflected on that fact and said that maybe he should have grabbed the rifle, but said that as it turned out, the pistol was sufficient.

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Bushmaster rifle that Vic Stacy passed as he headed out to help

 

Stacy arrived at his friend’s RV. He had seen Conner come out of his fifth wheel with a scoped lever action rifle. His friend told him that he thought that Conner had done the shooting. They saw Conner, rifle in hand, put a tree between himself and the park entrance as they heard an approaching siren. It was Seargent Steven Means of the Early Police Department. He turned into the Peach House RV park and stopped, little more than 50 feet from from where Conner stood behind a ten inch diameter elm tree.

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Vic Stacy stands about where Charles Conner stood behind the elm. The 5th wheel rig behind him was Charles Conner’s.

Seargent Means’ car had barely come to a halt when Conner started shooting at him. Seargent Means took cover behind his squad car with an AR-15 variant and returned fire. The .223 bullets couldn’t penetrate the elm tree. At that point, Stacy decided to take direct action.

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Approximate view that Seargent Means had of the scene. Conner would have been behind the elm. You can see that the truck tire is flat. It was hit by a .223 round.

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A number of .223 rounds hit the elm, but did not penetrate.

While Conner had cover from Seargent Means’ AR-15, his flank was exposed to Stacy. Stacy rested the Python on the hood of his friend’s RV, cocked the hammer, and fired his first shot.

Stacy could clearly see Conner, framed on the left by the Elm and on the right by a utility pedestal. The elm was between Conner and Seargent Means. Valencia’s body was only 15 feet to Stacy’s right, the RV whose hood he was resting on was mostly to his left.

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Vic Stacy’s view of the scene. You can make out the electrical pedestal, center to the right of the elm tree midway to Conner’s RV. The elm that Conner was to the left of, from this view, is framed between the electrical pedestal and the midway elm.

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This view shows the situation through a telephoto lens. Conner was to the left to the elm that is framed by the electrical pedestal and the elm on the left.

Stacy had killed deer with the Python. It’s known as a very accurate handgun. He squeezed the trigger, and Conner went down with a solid hit to the thigh. Now on the ground, Conner worked the lever on his rifle and turned the scoped firearm toward Stacy. Seeing the threat, Stacy took cover behind the front wheel of his friends RV. The shot hit the ground, sending rock fragments flying, causing a minor cut on Stacy’s leg. He was wearing shorts.

Conner turned his attention back to Seargent Means, who was continuing to fire.

Stacy came back up over the RV hood and cocking the Python, fired four more times at the prone Conner, single action. Stacy counted his shots, as he didn’t want to run the revolver dry and didn’t have spare ammunition with him. He stopped with one round remaining. Seargent Means was also still firing. After Stacy fired the four shots, there was no more movement from Conner. One of Stacy’s shots had hit the framing elm tree dead center. Stacy thinks the other three shots hit Conner in the abdomen.

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Stacy’s .357 round that hit the elm tree

In less than a minute, another officer with an AR had come up behind Stacy. Stacy placed his Python on the ground, and was handcuffed while the officers sorted out what happened. Stacy’s friend was also required to lie face down on the gravel, but wasn’t handcuffed. In about 15 minutes, Stacy was released, his Python was impounded and multiple officers and agencies were on the scene investigating.

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The dark blood stain shows where Valentina’s body lay, only feet from where Stacy fired at Conner.

How far was the famous shot that put Conner on the ground? Vic Stacy had a 100 foot tape measure and he and I measured the shot. One hundred and sixty-nine feet, just over 56 yards. While this is only a third of the much-reported media figure of 165 yards, it’s still an impressive shot. Stacy still thinks he connected with three of the following three shots, but he wasn’t allowed near Conner’s body to find out. I haven’t seen the coroner’s report, so we don’t know for sure. With the Python and its remaining cartridge impounded, Stacy couldn’t say for certain at the time what brand of ammunition he was using.

Vic Stacy is a retired welder who currently works making leather products. He said that if people are interested in his leather products, he can be reached at (325) 998-1034. I asked if being a welder helped him as a shooter. He replied that both required care, planning and good control of your hands. He said that while he was raised a Christian, he hadn’t been going to church much lately but might start going more regularly now.

I was impressed with Stacy. He’s been a lifelong hunter and said that he picked up his shooting skills growing up on a farm near Gorman, Texas. He told me he started shooting at age seven or eight, with a .22. He has also participated in club-level competitions. He said that he’s as good a shot with a rifle as he is with a pistol, and that he regularly practices with his AR-15. He has no police or military experience in his 66 years, though he did say that he had often thought of enlisting in the Marine Corps. If I were the Marine Corps Commandant, I would enlist Vic Stacy as an honorary Marine. He showed the kind of judgement and cool consideration under fire that would be a credit to any Marine.

Some people have wondered about the possibility of collateral damage. The Peach House RV park isn’t exactly near the Empire State Building. Both Vic Stacy and Seargent Means had thick woods and/or Conner’s truck and fifth wheel trailer as their backstops. And neither the .223 nor the .357 rounds were able to penetrate the common elm trees in the area.

 

Stacy’s 6-inch stainless Colt Python, similar to this one, was returned to him.

Vic Stacy and Seargent Means were subsequently “no billed” by the Grand Jury. When I talked to Vic on the phone a year after the shooting, he said that he was given an award by the Brownwood county Sheriff. He was also given an award by Governor Rick Perry.  That award was a little more substantial:  A custom made, LaRue OBR (Optimized Battle Rifle) and a case of ammunition.  From Brownwoodtx.com:

Vic Stacy visited sheriff’s officials and showed them the LaRue OBR (Optimized Battle Rifle), often referred to as a “sniper rifle,” Stacy received in Austin. Gov. Rick Perry presented the 7.62 mm rifle to Perry in recognition of Stacy’s action at the July 29 triple-fatality shooting at an RV park.

The OBR runs over $3,000. A case of ammo for it might run $2,000.

This is the sort of story that legends are made of. It rivals many in the old west. I was privileged to talk to Vic and record the details and shed some light on what happened a year ago. I wonder how a mere blogger could have scooped the national media on a story like this.

© 2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

 

comments

  1. avatar Nate says:

    I need to move to Texas, tho I am not a fan of heat.

    1. avatar Nick says:

      Hill country is where it is at!

  2. avatar Matt in FL says:

    Great story. Not very often you get a detailed after-action report like this on a DGU. Thanks for taking the time.

    1. avatar Pro-Liberty says:

      I second that. I got chills reading this story.

  3. avatar darkstar says:

    Just goes to show what one OFWG and a wheel gun can do. Good for him!

  4. avatar OHgunner says:

    Couldn’t help but smile reading that story. Stacy has some serious balls and shooting skills. I hope I could be as clear headed under pressure as he was.

    Enjoy your OBR, Sir. I hope you never are in another position where you need to use it against a criminal. But if you are, I’m confident that it will be a very short conflict.

  5. avatar Dean Weingarten says:

    Thanks for the editing. It is a never ending job.

    I must have forgotten to capitalize “Means” in this sentence:

    Conner turned his attention back to Sargent means, who was continuing to fire.

    Could you please correct it?

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Fix-ed.

  6. avatar Swobard says:

    Mr. Weingarten – thanks for following up on this story, and providing these details! Enjoyed reading the story…

  7. You are welcome. I would also like to put in a shameless plug for my blog, Gun Watch:

    http://gunwatch.blogspot.com/

    I will be publishing the story there as well, but I thought it deserved the bigger following that TTAG commands. I promised them first wack at publishing the story a year ago. Robert and Dan did the right thing.

    Dean

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Awesome, Dean. I just bookmarked your site.

  8. avatar speedracer5050 says:

    That is a man with a hell of a good heart and a damn good eye!!! Anyone know a Marine Corp recruiter we could talk into enlisting an Honorary Marine??

  9. avatar Zebulon Pike says:

    “I wonder how a mere blogger could have scooped the national media on a story like this.”

    You are doing the job the national media has been told not to do because their marching orders are to support civilian disarmament. You “mere bloggers” are becoming essential.

    1. avatar Roscoe says:

      No truer statement can be made.

      The mere fact that such a significant successful heroic defensive act occurred without any national media coverage speaks for itself, and speaks volumes of the pathetic, biased national news coverage that exists in this country.

  10. avatar Epunthesis says:

    I thought it sounded like a story from the Ayoob Files. Had to check the name at the top. Well done, Dan. Of course, he’ll publish it and get all the glory, but you’ve had your 15 minutes. That should be enough. 🙂

    1. Thank you for the kind words. Ayoob is a wonderful writter. It is quite a complement to be compared to him. I hope this story goes viral. I am always annoyed by the amazing lack of detail in most reporting, especially about DGUs.

    2. avatar PaulAZ says:

      I learned of this thru Ayoob’s article “Kill Zone Responses” in the February 2017 edition of Combat Handguns. But it’d make one heck of a good Ayoob File.

  11. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    This is exactly the sort of engagement that Jeff Cooper had in mind when he undertook the 10mm project in the early 70’s, and the genesis for the .41 Mag in Elmer Keith’s mind in the late 40’s through the 50’s: engaging a target 50+ yards away with a handgun.

    With what is available in the market today, I wouldn’t want to start this sort of engagement with any commercially available semi-auto. I’d be sticking to a revolver as well, and there’s few better revolvers for this than the Python. Hand-fit precision makes the difference at long ranges.

    Better yet, I wouldn’t leave a useful rifle behind when running out the door.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      “Better yet, I wouldn’t leave a useful rifle behind when running out the door.”

      Hopefully he’ll never have to make that decision, but if he does, I bet he won’t do it again, either.

    2. avatar LJM says:

      Maybe its just me, but I wouldn’t want to get in a long range shootout with Hickok45 armed with an SR9c. Just saying.

      Regardless, an incredible story and that man deserves all the kudos he has and will received. Guns save life indeed.

    3. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      I just started practicing with my Beretta 92 at 50 yards lately and I’d have to disagree. 70% in the points and that’s just the first 100 rounds. And I’m shooting freehand, with a rest (like Stacy had) those groups would tighten up considerably. I’m planning on working up to 100 yards. Sure the .357 has a little more punch, but it takes about 200 yards for a 9mm to become a .380 so you’ll run out of accuracy long before you run out of lethality. Given the choice in such a situation I’d much prefer 18 rounds of 9 over 6 of .357. Although my Taurus PT709 would be next to useless in such a situation.

  12. avatar Martin says:

    Did he ever get his colt python back ?

    1. Yes, he did. If you look under the picture of the Python, It says that he got it back. One of the things that I love about this story, is that not only did he get his pistol back, but the sheriff and the Governor give him awards, a $3,000 rifle, and a $2,000 case of ammo.

      1. avatar Doug Smith says:

        That reward is a waste of tax payer money. Maybe I am wrong and it came out of this pocket, but if not, then shame on the governor, but good on him for trying to do the right thing.

        1. avatar CarlosT says:

          If I were a Texas taxpayer, that expenditure would be just fine with me.

        2. avatar Layne says:

          I am a Texas taxpayer and I approve of this expenditure. Not often I can say that.

  13. avatar Blue says:

    Did he get his Python back?

  14. avatar Will says:

    Gotta love a governer that gives out a rifle like that as a reward. 🙂

    1. avatar JeffR says:

      No kidding. I don’t think my governor, Pat Quinn, is going to be handing out rifles any time soon. While I may presently suffer in Illinois, this story made me proud to have been born in Texas.

  15. avatar Dave says:

    It’s nit-picking, but my only complaint would the multiple times it was stated the bullets were not able to penetrate the elm trees, “and neither the .223 nor the .357 rounds were able to penetrate the common elm trees in the area.” That’s not true; there was no over-penetration. In the pictures provided you can see where the bullets have penetrated the trees.

    1. I did consider using the word perforate instead of penetrate. But penetrate can mean to pass through as well as into, and I thought it a more commonly understood meaning.

      I am looking for volunteer editors for my work, if anyone is interested.

      1. avatar Dave says:

        I’d be happy to help you out.

  16. avatar Tom RKBA says:

    What ammunition did Mr. Stacy use?

    1. He did not say. He was not sure what he had. He did not have a partial box. We looked. From what he said, I think it was 158 grain .357 or heavier.

      1. avatar TheSleeperHasAwakened says:

        158 grain makes sense if he used his Python to hunt deer.

  17. avatar TheSleeperHasAwakened says:

    Great story, Vic Stacy is a true Texas Hero.

    The .223 is a notoriously horrible round to use to try and penetrate a covered position. However, the 7.62 LaRue OBR would be able to penetrate that tree.

  18. avatar Colby says:

    A great example of what the relationship between law enforcement and the civilian population should be.

    I am from the area where this took place and can tell you that, in the rural communities of West Texas (anything west of Fort Worth and north of San Antonio is considered “West Texas”), law enforcement officers are very often a very, very, long way from backup.

    The communities are smaller, so the members of the departments are as much members of the local community as are the local rodeo association members. Accordingly they see themselves more as civilian sheep-dogs, as opposed to a para-military governmental force. Very often, whether it is a situation like the one described above, or whether a cow has jumped a fence onto a roadway, law enforcement there needs the assistance of civilian good samaritans to help them solve problems. Accordingly, there is very much a sense of the police and the public having each other’s back. Therefore, the cops around there take comfort knowing that the people they share the community with are well armed because, just like happened here, they know that a friendly neighbor with a weapon might just get them out of a jam like this.

    I live in the Fort Worth area now and the relationship between police and civilians is the same in some ways, but I sure miss knowing all the law enforcement officers in my county by name and feeling that sense of community with them.

    1. avatar Cogline says:

      I come from a very rural farming area. A little over 30 years ago I was at my grandfather’s house when someone came by and told us that their were some guys shooting at cows in a pasture a few miles away from us. My grandfather called the sheriff and we waited for a while. It was taking the sheriff a long time to get there so we decided along with my uncle to drive over and see what was going on. We were just putting our rifles into the truck when the sheriff drove up and asked us to come show him where this was happening. He told us to bring our guns with us. When we got there they had shot about 7 cows and were passed out in the ditch drunk or stoned so there wasn’t a confrontation.

      Somehow I don’t see law enforcement asking civilians to bring their guns and help them out happening in today’s world.

    2. avatar Wiregrass says:

      Yes, I found it commendable that the officer that arrived behind Stacy with a dead woman lying 15 feet away from him didn’t immediately assume he was a second BG and fire on Stacy before he had sized up the situation.

  19. avatar gs650g says:

    Thanks Vic for taking out the trash.

  20. avatar IdahoPete says:

    “I wonder how a mere blogger could have scooped the national media on a story like this.”

    I going WAAAAY out on a limb here, and guessing that a “mere blogger” could have scooped the national media on this story because the national media deliberately ignored it. After all, “American gun owner and marksman uses .357 magnum revolver to save police officer and stop murderer” does NOT fit the narrative of the state media.

  21. avatar jwm says:

    Cool under fire. Grace under pressure. What struck me is that had the cops not handcuffed him an kept him away he was going to walk over and see how many of his shots actually hit the bad guy. He wanted to check his grouping on the target.

    I would not want this man pissed at me.

  22. avatar BDub says:

    Outstanding story! Thanks for posting.

  23. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    “I wonder how a mere blogger could have scooped the national media on a story like this.” — Dean Weingarten.

    Well that’s easy. Mr. Weingarten scooped national media because Mr. Stacy — the armed citizen who acted to stop the killer — does not fit their narrative.

  24. avatar Blehtastic says:

    That was awesome.

  25. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Any guesses whether Governor Perry personally sighted-in the rifle that he gave to Mr. Stacy?

    1. avatar Juliesa says:

      It’s quite possible. He loves to go shooting at La Rue’s range.

  26. avatar g says:

    Good write-up. Hats off to Mr. Stacy for the quick, calm, and decisive action. Bonus points for doing it all with a Colt Python too. Classy gun.

  27. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

    Word on his 357 ammo? 125 gr or 158 grain, HP?

    1. avatar Tdubb says:

      It really doesn’t matter. 56 yards is not that far of a shot. Any decent ammo would have done the trick. One in the leg and 3 in the abdomen, that’s a lot of blood loss.

  28. avatar Doug Smith says:

    So let me get this straight…. Although this is an awesome example of how civilians and law enforcement can work together to stop an assailant, I find a flaw in this. I am outraged that any government official would spend 5k on a gun to give to a citizen. This is tax payer money he used…. It would have been a lot better if it was the governers own money that was spent.

    Perhaps I read this wrong or there is more information, but I remain appalled at that fact. Other than that good on this guy Vic Stacy!!!

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Why do you assume that the taxpayers paid for it? Maybe Rick Perry did buy it. Maybe LaRue donated it. It appears to be the same model rifle that Perry was shooting in his intro video at the NRA convention earlier this year. Maybe it’s the same rifle.

      It seems to me that there are just as many if not more reasons to suspect the taxpayers didn’t pay for it as there are that they did.

    2. avatar Layne says:

      I am an employee of the state of Texas. This morning I sent a wedding gift to some friends of mine. Is it your assumption that I charged it to the state, even though you have no proof of such? Isn’t is possible I used my personal credit card, despite being a state employee? Then why would you assume Rick Perry use taxpayer money for something he “presented” (nowhere does it say RIck did the shopping himself). More likely than not LaRue donated the thing. But I also don’t care. Better use of tax money than most things.

      1. avatar Henry Bowman says:

        Maybe he was refering to Perry’s tax-payer funded salary as the waste. After all, the guy couldn’t even remember what federal agencies his handlers told him to say he’d cut if he were president.

  29. avatar Mike says:

    Terrific AAR. No one ever wants to see people killed, but here is a clear example of a law abiding citizen stopping evil in its tracks and saving a cops life. Nice job

  30. avatar Gregolas says:

    Vic Stacey is a hero and great example of why our Founders wanted us to have firearms.
    God bless Vic Stacey!

  31. avatar Hank says:

    Thanks for the write-up, Dean. I live in Early, but moved hear just after this incident, so it’s interesting to see all the details. This is a great little community, and a safe one, as Vic Stacy is quite typical of its citizens, not an exception to the rule.

    Until reading about it in the local paper when it happened, I was unaware that our governor gave out such guns as awards. Very cool.

  32. avatar Shane says:

    Great write up. Thank you.

  33. avatar mediocrates says:

    while I certainly admire Mr. Stacy for his outstanding performance, I’m not sure I would have gotten involved if Law Enforcement was on the scene. Accidents can and do happen…

    p.s. I’m not taking anything away from this story. It was thrilling and I was truly amazed at Vic’s unselfish actions.

  34. avatar William Burke says:

    You’d think Early would be in EAST Texas.

    1. avatar Hank says:

      Nope. It’s actually considered Central Texas. East Texas is a whole ‘nother culture. Calling someone from West or Central Texas an East Texan will get you in the same fight as calling a Texas Aggie a Texas Longhorn or vice-versa. Heck, when I lived in Northeast Texas they didn’t even want you calling them East Texans.

      All that probably seems odd to non-Texans, but the regional subcultures in Texas are as diverse from one another as, say, those of each New England state from one another.

      (Native West Texan here)

      1. Just so you know, the Native East Texans feel the same way about West Texans 🙂 Lived in Tyler for 3 years and heard so many jokes about West Texans.

  35. avatar C says:

    I got a big kick out the plug for his leather work. If i ever need any, i’ll keep him in mind.

    1. I told him that the phone would be ringing off the hook…

      Now I am not so sure. I thought this article would have more legs…

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Dean, you have to mix in conspiracies and black yoots to get real legs with this crowd. And don’t forget, your story didn’t paint the cops in a negative light.

        It’s a shame really. Mr. Stacy is deserving of all credit he gets.

  36. avatar Anmut says:

    Once Texas figures out it’s Open Carry b.s., and my son is 18, I’m moving. Wisconsin has better gun laws as of right now, but crappier leaders. KUDOS to Rick Perry for honoring that Good Guy With A Gun.

    1. avatar David Trest says:

      When I was still living in WI, they had waiting periods for pistols. Also concealed carry was not allowed but that was fixed shortly after I left.

  37. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    National media caught flatfooted. Film at 11.

  38. avatar Ron says:

    I love a happy ending.

  39. avatar Mitche says:

    Thanks for the very thorough after action report on the shooting! It was fascinating! Vic Stacy deserves all the accolades and rewards he got!

  40. avatar Jason says:

    Its refreshing to read that a law abiding citizen took a stand against a criminal while helping a man (deputy) in grave danger. Thank you sir!!

  41. In small towns of Texas, a lot of Deputies are solo. To the folks who thought he shouldn’t get involved, would you have been more comfortable if the deputy had been buried? We protect each other and have respect for our first responders and will protect them. Thank you Mr. Stacy for stopping this idiot because after murdering 2 people in cold blood he had nothing to lose and would have continued.

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