Which story is better?

Kill Or Be Killed

About a week after losing my first one I was driving back to Manhattan. I had seen the psychologist who told me I was fine, that I could got back to negotiating. A job comes over the air. A guy was holding his father at gunpoint in a building, and they were looking for negotiators.

A captain that I knew tells me the story and jokingly says, “Make sure this guy doesn’t die.” I even smiled, a little bit, good-natured gallows humor. It turns out four hours later we shoot this guy to death in the hallway. The captain who was by then off duty called me up and apologized.

In his apartment the guy had his eighty year old father at gunpoint. Our tactics and response unit drilled a hole from the apartment above and put down a little filament which is a television camera, a little wire hanging down over his refrigerator.

This guy wanted cigarettes.

We could see him standing at the door with the gun. We said no. This is a bad guy. As a tactic we cut off communications.

He wants to talk to us now. He threatens, “If youse don’t talk to me I’m going to set the house on fire.”

You’ve got a building with forty families in it, and he’s on the first floor. We call in the fire department stand ting by, all lined up in the streets with their hoses.

The guy does in fact start a fire. It’s starting to go good in there, but you can’t run in because he’s got a gun.

All of a sudden the smoke starts to get real heavy. Through the smoke we see he’s got his father in front of him, this eighty year old man. He’s pushing him forward. One cop grabs the father and pulls him out of the smoke.

There’re two guys with rifles in the hallway. They shoot this guy on the spot. He goes down. Every body gives him quick CPR. You don’t want him to die. We put him on a stretcher ran him out past the firemen.

They say, “What happened to him?”

One of the cops says, “We shot him.”

“For starting a fire?” He didn’t know what was going on in the hallway.

Those was only the second that I lost in thirteen years, but they came a week apart. They just went sour. If a guy comes out with a gun, it’s kill or be killed, and like a gunfight in the street when someone starts to draw.


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