Shots fired. Instant adrenaline as the lights
and sirens are turned on and I begin my high
speed run through traffic. Not much information
is given except that a male shot off a
semi-automatic handgun, just missing his
brothers head. As I drove to the area, dispatch
advised officers that the suspect had just left
in a white vehicle.
I heard one of the officers advise that he
observed the suspect vehicle at a nearby park.
I responded to the park and we conducted a
felony stop on the vehicle (felony stop- high
risk stop where at least two officers order the
occupants out at gunpoint) and removed the
suspect. I observed that the young male suspect
was cooperative and complacent. He went into
the patrol car without incident.
I began to speak with the suspect as I always
do so that I can build a rapport with them.
After I read him his constitutional rights I
asked him if he wanted to speak with me. He
said that he would, because it didn't matter,
his life was over. The male was extremely
despondent and only repeated that his life was
over. I transported him to the Police
department where I interviewed him.
The male said that he was upset because his
mother hated him. I told him that his mother
didn't hate him, but he kept on reiterating
that she hated him. The male said that he had
made mistakes in his life and got into some
drugs when he was in high school. He got his
life back together and went on to get his GED,
but his mother always put him down for the
mistakes that he made and would not let him
The male said that his mother loved his younger
brother who could do no wrong. His younger
brother was graduating from high school and his
mother bought him a brand new Toyota pick-up
truck. His younger brother wanted to invite his
father to the graduation, but his mother would
hate him for it because his father had left his
mom for another woman and moved to Alaska. His
younger brother and father hatched a plan and
they told each other that they would blame the
invitation on the older brother because his
mother hated him anyway. That is what they did.
His mother then told the suspect that she
didn't want to see him again and that she hated
him because she was told that he was the one
who invited the dad to the graduation. The
suspect tried to tell her that he never invited
his father to the graduation, but the younger
brother kept lying and told his mother that it
wasn't his idea and that his brother did the
inviting. The suspect went to his friend’s
house and grabbed a handgun to try and get his
brother to tell the truth. He wasn't going to
hurt him, but just threaten him enough to get
him to tell the truth. When he came to the
house, the suspect pointed the handgun at his
brother, but his brother grabbed the handgun.
They struggled and the handgun accidentally
went off, just missing the younger brother's
head. The suspect grabbed the gun and left. He
went to the park and thought about shooting
himself, but said that he knew he couldn't do
I told the suspect that I would like to call
his father to find out the real truth. I told
him that it was outside my scope of what I
needed for my case, but it was for him that I
was doing it. I called his father and told him
why I called. His father was extremely upset
and said that it was the dumbest thing he had
done in his life. He told me the truth and said
that he and his younger son had lied about the
older son inviting him to the graduation. I
ended the conversation with him thinking what
an idiot he was for doing such a stupid thing.
He deserved it.
I called the suspects mother and told her the
truth. She said that she didn't care because
she hated that son and never wanted to see him
again. One of those rare moments that I
actually got surprised at.
I told the suspect that what he did was wrong.
He reacted in the wrong manner and he had to
think of the consequences of his actions. Then
I told him that I had to do my job, but that I
believed in him and that he actually had been
wronged. I also said that I couldn't believe
his mother’s attitude. The male was still
despondent and just repeated over and over that
his life was over. I eventually finished my
interview of the male and booked him into jail.
I felt sorry for him, but nothing I said seemed
to penetrate into the hopeless, young man.
I did not hear any more of that case until
several years later. I was advised by dispatch
that I was requested to call someone on the
phone. When I requested the nature of the
complaint, I was advised that the caller
I called the number and the male asked me if I
remembered him. He then told me the story when
he almost shot his brother in the head. I told
him that I did remember him and wanted to know
how he was doing now. The male said that he was
great and that his life was totally changed. He
said that he spent a couple of years in prison
for the mistake he made, and then told me, “You
know who loves you when you're down and out.”
He said that his aunt and his grandmother would
visit him regularly in prison, and when he got
out, he was invited to live with them. He said
that he now has a good job and goes to church.
His mother still won't talk to him, but it was
okay, he's learned to live with that.
He wanted to tell me the reason that he called
me. He said that each day in prison, the one
single thought that kept him going every day,
was that when all others doubted him, one
person in the world said that he believed in
him. He said that he thought of me telling him
that and promised himself, every day, that he
would get out of prison, call me, and thank me.
He said, “and now, I'm thanking you.” Wow, I
did choke up on that one and I told him that I
was proud of him for trying to do things right.
He said that he had me to thank for that.
We never know when or how, but we may affect
others at any time. We can touch hearts by how
we react to the lives we come in contact with,
most times without knowing about it. Always
persevere in doing the right things for people.
Lester L. T. Letoto, Everett Police
Department, Washington (ret.) is a 27 year
veteran of law enforcement. He can be
contact via the website publisher.