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Equipment Prep: Slings and Things: Gunfight at the Sikh temple (Images)

Officers Murphy and Lenda of the Oak Creek Wisconsin police department recently provided a debrief which is of great benefit to us all.  It addresses mind set, not giving up (even if shot) and also raises training and equipment issues related to the slings on our shotguns and patrol rifles as well as the deployment of weapons from the weapons rack while under stress.   



     August 05th, 2012, Officers Murphy and Lenda engaged in the fight for their lives against an alleged highly trained neo-Nazi (Wade Michael Page, former U.S. Army, PSYOPs). 

     The Offender entered a Sikh temple and proceeded to go on a shooting rampage (active shooter), killing six.  Lt. Murphy responded to a disturbance call and upon arrival, was shot by the offender in his chin and neck.  Lt. Murphy moved to cover, while the trained offender flanked him, came out from behind and shot him in the hand, knocking Lt. Murphy’s handgun out of his hand. 

     Officer Lenda arrived shortly after his partner was shot and after some issues that delayed him and placed him in the line of fire, engaged the offender with his patrol rifle; shooting him once; knocking him to the ground at which point the offender turned his gun on himself. 


     Lt. Murphy said that the first shot “felt like a solid punch”, he described getting “pissed off” because he “got outflanked” and described how he low crawled on his elbows to cover.  In the end, Lt. Murphy was shot 17 times with a 9mm handgun.  He fought through it all, moving to cover, remained calm, conducted combat breathing and willed himself to stay alive; ultimately surviving the encounter.  His closing message at the debrief was this, regardless of how bad things appear to be, “Never give up!”

     Officer Lenda, a SWAT officer and instructor raised the issue that he had never effectively practiced “dismounting into an ambush”Which included manipulating the weapon rack (double security) which had a “three second delay”, untangling the weapon sling which had become tangled in the mobile computer and also getting tied up in his seatbelt (all the while under fire from the suspect).    He suffered injury from fragmenting glass from the windshield, took position between the “V” of the door aimed, squeezed the trigger and “CLICK”.  He then had to charge the weapon and put a round in the chamber.


     Whether with your handgun, patrol rifle or shotgun, you have to practice the effective and efficient deployment of these tools. It all begins with recognizing a need to act because you are in danger of serious bodily injury or death from a lethal threat, deciding to act, and with which tool (handgun, shotgun, rifle, vehicle), then engaging/taking action by engaging the weapons rack release button and removing the weapon clamp (in the case of long guns), removing it from the mount, and effectively mounting and using the weapon

Cruiser Safe is how our agency dictates that a patrol rifle or shotgun be carried:  i.e. Bolt forward on an EMPTY CHAMBERsafety ontube loaded or magazine inserted.  So, when these weapons are needed for deployment in a lethal encounter, you will have to load a round into the chamber either by 1) engaging the slide release, racking your shotgun slide, and going off safe (Shotgun) or  2) pulling and releasing the charging handle, and going off safe on your patrol rifle.  This means, that you need to practice doing this under stress and prior to an actual incident so as to make your movements second nature and to avoid having an empty weapon in a lethal force encounter.


Rifle and Shotgun slings are necessary tools offering the advantage of aiding you with shooting and also freeing your hands if you have to go hands on with an offender.  One disadvantage to them is that if you have not properly prepped your sling, like in this incident, it can get snagged on your vehicles computer or other equipment.  So, you need to prep your sling to allow for not only ease of weapon removal from your vehicle,  but also for ease of sling deployment.  There are a few methods that you can use to do so and which do not cost much other than a little time.  One is the rubber band method, the other is the bungee cord or the elastic pony tail tie method.  The key here is to make sure that you 1) pack your sling so that it allows for rapid deployment 2) make sure that it does not interfere with the charging handle and 3) Practice deploying the sling.  Be aware that sling buckles can catch on the bands, so leave the buckles away and on the outside of the band, in the direction you will pull the sling to deploy.  If you should have to deploy your shotgun or patrol rifle, understand that you can and should  shoot the weapon while the slings is in the restraint band.  Address the lethal threat first, then release your sling.  The way to release the sling depends on how you packed it (either pull back towards you or forwards away from you).


     Training for and to counter Ambush is not something new and has been in place as far back as the late 60’s early 70’s  when agencies found themselves under attack both at their stations and in the field from militant groups (moving into, driving through, deployment from vehicle drills etc.).  We have practiced anti sniper drills for field force as well as ambush while in the vehicle drills with my agency.  However, like anything else, if we don’t continue to run the drills, the skills are perishable.  So, we as instructors should remember to run drills annually (at a minimum) in order to assure that we all know what and how to do it.


Individual Practice

1)      Smooth and efficient retrieval of the rifle or shotgun from the weapons rack (engage the weapon rack lock, remove the clamp, retrieve the weapon)

2)      Efficient and safe loading of the weapon (racking (shotgun slide) or pulling and releasing of the charging handle on the patrol rifle)

3)      Safely bringing the weapon up

3)      Deploying your sling (remembering to do so only after addressing any lethal threat)

 Instructors and Supervisors 

How about you run some of these drills on your next training day and check to see if your officers equipment is properly prepped for deployment.

1)      Smooth and efficient retrieval of the rifle or shotgun from the weapons rack (practice with both weapons--rifle and shotgun, have them drive up, park, engage the release button, unclasp the the weapon from the rack, etc.)

2)      Efficient and safe loading of the weapon

3)      Shooting from the vehicle

4)      Deploying out of the vehicle with the weapon

5)      Deploying the sling

6)      Moving to contact

7)      Buddy movement (if full crew)

8)      Effective round placement on a target with the weapon sling mounted and with the weapon sling still in place (priority is firing on the threat and deployment of the sling is secondary, accomplished only when safe to do so)



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In order to prevent any possibility of the rifle charging handle catching on the prepped/packed sling, it is better for you to prep/pack it on your handguard.  If you are a LE agency interested in the lesson plan, please message me from your agency email address.  


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