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October 4, 2023


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Terror On The Beach – Law Officer

Terror On The Beach – Law Officer

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I love being a police officer but one event, my first year, will stay in my mind forever. Working in a beach community is like heaven and hell. One minute you are patrolling beautiful beach front property with clean sidewalks, short skirts, fresh saltwater air and dolphins spinning in the beaches. Consistent with this beauty are the friendly waving of hands of beach goers and tourists while all along there is a different side to this environment. Within the wonderful beach city ambiance, there is a belly of the beast of residential and commercial frontage and streets bordered by high crime ghetto cities and windows and doors covered with bars, and everything from wonks to spooks…with its dirty baggage frequenting and stagnating to and from our city to indulge in the commission of their crimes.

The Call

On February 5, 2016, while working solo in full police uniform in a marked black and white police vehicle on patrol, I received a call of a domestic with a suspect that had a handgun. I had received similar calls but something in my gut told me this was different. I began responding code 3 with cherries and berries flashing on my roof top and my gut feeling began to turn even worse.

As I approached the scene, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Combining that with he uneasiness in my gut prompted me to deploy my Colt Rifle. The situation was more than rapidly evolving and tense. It was capricious, dynamic, nefarious, and unbeknownst to me. Hell was about to visit in the driveway of an older apartment complex in the north side of town. I did not have time to activate the lighting system on the rifle, nor did I have any night sights on my rifle. Additionally, the lighting system attached on our rifles (Surefire X300 Ultra) at the time were used primarily as a room clearing instrument and not necessarily suited for combat in the field during night operations.

I was first on the scene and exited my patrol car. My spit shined boots hit the pavement, my police radio was crackling continuous transmissions as I was slinging the iron rifle over my shoulder and racking a round into the chamber to make it “hot”.

Patrick Shrum (right) with President Obama.

You always want a weapon that meets or exceeds your enemy. I was outfitted in a crisp ironed Class A uniform. It was late at night, and I recall there were cool breezes rippling east off the waters of Manhattan Beach. I was rubbing elbows with the brisk air hitting my face, marked by the soothing breeze, and punctuated by a calm wind lightly ruffling my shirt collar. As I manipulated my rifle, my tie was softly blowing in the wind and I could feel time slow down to a crawl. My heart began to pump as I spit a new lip of fresh cut chewing tobacco on the ground. I instinctively felt that a battle was about to ensue…

I spit more tobacco on the ground and took a quick swig of a freshly chilled Diet Coke that I had recently purchased. I was ready for whatever business fate was about to deal me. I was confident with the intensive training I had received in my Marine Corps and Law Enforcement career, but I was concerned for the safety of my ride-along, and I recall telling him “I don’t have a good feeling about this one dude, stay in the car, I’m getting the AR”.

I got on the radio “15, I’ll be deploying the AR…I got eyes on him’, put your hands up!.. 15 I’m at gunpoint…..Lincoln 15 SHOTS FIRED!! SHOTS FIRED!!”

I was alone, in the dark, with a suspect approaching me. The target was moving, wearing dark clothing in extremely low light conditions. He appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and was highly agitated. I sensed he had nothing to lose.  He incessantly failed to comply with my verbal commands while continuing to close the distance on me. If I sensed a problem before, that gut feeling was now screaming in my ears.

As I continued to yell “put your hands up!…Let me see your hands!” He just kept coming at me in silence. Few know what this exact moment in time feels like. It’s a mixture of praying he will do what you are asking and wondering if you will return home that night combined with absolute terror and calmness.

I had exhausted every effort to get him to comply when he quickly pulled a gun on me. I could instantly see the glimmer and shine of the steel revolver in the low light conditions luminously. The echo of these nonverbal sentimental actions displayed lay stagnant in my mind, for I shall never forget them. Once I observed the gun, I reverted back to my Marine Corps training and police training-fearing for the safety of my ride along, neighboring residents, and myself. I began firing rounds (point shooting) lighting up the sky at the suspect who remained on the move. Everything that is important to me…my life, love, family, and friends flashed before me. I could not see my sights well, and I shot the gun hand of the suspect, permeating his hand, blowing his finger off, and causing him and the gun to fall to the ground.

The first round I fired made my ear scream louder than an alarm clock in the dead of sleep. The several shots that followed brought an eerie silence. They tell you in training that it’s called ‘auditory exclusion’ but nothing can prepare you for when it happens.

I just kept pulling the trigger.

I felt the soft and quick recoil of the rifle punching into my shoulder after each round I discharged. I recall seeing the suspect synching up, and everything erupted so fast, yet unfolded in slow motion. I could literally smell the odor of gun powder and see and hear the gun from the suspect fall from his hand and clash onto pavement. In a simultaneous movement, the suspect fell onto the ground and on his stomach.

I continued to yell loud verbal commands for him not to move and I had no idea whether he was dead or alive. At this point, I could hear the loud sweet sounds of sirens resonating in the quiet city…there’s no better sounds when you know the cavalry of your fellow brothers and sisters and from neighboring agencies are coming with revving horsepower, squealing tires and guns blazing like you’ve never seen.

I immediately took cover behind a parked vehicle and held the suspect at gun point. Once the suspect was taken into custody by an arrest team, I was taken away from the scene by a supervisor. I had drops of sweat the size of the 5.56 rounds I had just fired shooting down my neck and face from the spike in blood pressure.

The terror of the shooting quickly turned to the unknown worries of the aftermath. I felt in control of the shooting incident, and I knew that my extensive training had helped me win but the potential judgements of those that were peacefully sleeping in their beds at the moment a deranged suspect tried to kill me, brought me anguish.

Lessons Learned

I am happy I won the fight, and I am ready for the next one if and when it happens but there were certainly some lessons to be learned. Agencies and officers must make sure that rifles are adequately equipped for night shooting. Supervisors need to make sure that the rank and file are delicately and precisely hooked up with the best night time shooting equipment accompanied by the proper training and range time.

It will save lives!

More than anything, I’m happy I am able to write this today. I will relive this moment in time for the rest of my life but that is certainly better than the alternative.

Be safe, train and know your equipment.

Patrick Shrum is a former United States Marine with five years of active service, working directly for the President of the United States, providing security and law enforcement for “Marine One”. A certified United States Marine certified SRT (SWAT) Operator, he has prior experience as a federal police officer along with the Los Angeles Police Department before settling in as a full-time police officer at a beach community.


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