NATIONAL SHOOTING CLUB INCIDENT – SANTA CLARA, CA Please remember that this is my memory of events as they happened. During the trial I was able to verify certain details and I was able to obtain a copy of the original police report, but haven't obtained a copy of the court transcripts (working on it). This occurred at the former National Shooting Club, located in Santa Clara, CA. We were a full retail gun shop, with an indoor 20 lane range. The business has since changed hands and is now Reed’s Indoor Range. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Well it’s been 2 1/2years, the trial has been over for almost two years and the bad guy is in jail for 48 years, so what the hell. This is going to be a long post; I’ll try and give as many details as I can. I’m going to leave out the names of the other employees involved; but I have no problem telling you the name of the bad guy: Richard Gable Stevens. Monday, July 5th 1999. A lot of people took this day off as a holiday; we were open and busy on the range until about 7pm. Earlier in the day about 12 noon, Stevens had come in; black male, about 20 years of age, 6’. Dressed in black jump boots, camouflage BDUs and a black t-shirt. A lot of people dress specifically to go shooting so the jump boots and cammies weren’t that odd. He spent a long time in front of a glass display case we had that contained among other firearms, a post-ban Colt 9mm Sporter and several pre-ban 32 round magazines for it. We had a pre-ban Colt 9mm Sporter with a 32 round magazine for rent and it was a popular firearm (though it was getting a little worn out). He didn’t ask any questions and didn’t seem to need any help until he came to the front counter area. One of our employees said to me that she had “a bad feeling” about this guy and asked me to go talk to him. I saw him hanging out at the front counter and asked him if he needed any help- he stated that he had the day off and was just checking out all the firearms we had in the various displays. He seemed ok and didn’t seem to me to be different than any other customer. I talked to two other employees about him and they stated that they had seen him in the store earlier last week and that he was ok. He left the store shortly after that. We had decided to close early that day, as it was very slow after about 6:30pm. About a quarter to 8pm I was on a phone call as Richard Gable Stevens came back to the store, still in his jump boots, black t-shirt and camouflage BDUs, and rented the pre-ban Colt 9mm Sporter, the 32 round magazine and two boxes of Remington UMC 9mm 115grn FMJ. He finished checking in and went out to the range as I finished my phone call. Since we were going to close at 8:30pm, I asked one of the other employees to go inform him that we were closing early and we would only charge him for half an hour of range time. The last customer in the retail area left and it was just myself the cashier and the other employee in the store area. Stevens was the only customer in the store at that time. While shooting on the range, he had a feed failure that I had to clear for him. While doing so, he asked if the Colt was a “good gun”. I said yes it was, but this rental was pretty used and a little beat up. He thanked me and continued shooting. I should tell you that at this time I was the only armed employee. The cashier was a younger female that did little shooting and didn’t own a firearm. The other employee on duty was armed earlier but had taken off his firearm only moments before to put on a haz-mat jumpsuit to clean the range. I was armed with a Glock 30, .45 caliber. It was loaded with a total of 10 rounds of Federal Hydra Shock 230grn Jacketed Hollow Point. (This choice of ammo, later turned out not to be the best.) One round in the chamber and nine in the magazine. I was carrying it in a right hand Galco Model PLE paddle holster with a thumb break. I was wearing a gray t-shirt with a button down shirt over that, un-tucked and un-buttoned so that the firearm was concealed from sight. Whenever an employee was armed while in the store, they always carried concealed for the simple reason that if the firearm was openly carried and there was a robbery or some other incident, open carry was like wearing a sign that said “Shoot me first because I can shoot back”. This turned out to be critical. At approximately 8:10pm Stevens came out of the range to use the payphone, which I though was odd as he knew we were closing early and he was wasting range time. He went back out to the range to continue shooting. The cashier (I’m going to call her Mary from this point out) was behind the register; I was outside the cashier area but standing directly to the left of it. The other employee (we’ll call him Bob) was standing directly to my left. Mary was on the phone to the owners, telling them the day’s total in the register. At about 8:15pm Stevens came out of the door to the range very quickly with the Colt on his shoulder and leveled at us. He shouted, “Put up your f-ing hands or I’ll blow your f-ing heads off!” He told Mary to hang up the phone, which she did. He asked if any of us were armed. We said no. (I was trying not to raise my hands too high, as I was afraid that it would expose my sidearm.) I told him he was in charge and that he should calm down (I have a basic rule: don’t argue with the man holding a loaded gun on you). He continued to tell us that if we didn’t do as he said he would kill us. He repeated it many times during the incident He then told Bob, Mary and myself to move over to the side of the range windows on the left and to turn away from him. While he was behind us with us facing away, was the only time I was really scared: I was convinced that he was going to shoot us in the back right there. I thought about my wife and how much I loved her. I thought about him shooting me and how it would be: 9mm 115grn full-metal jacket, through a 16 inch barrel. It probably would go right through me and if I was lucky I might be still be able to draw and fire. Like I said that was the only time I was really afraid. Stevens then told Mary to come over to where Bob and I were. The phone rang. Stevens told Mary to answer it while he held the rifle to her head. Mary picked up the phone and told whomever it was that we were closed and then hung up. He then told Mary to go back into the cashier area and to give him three more boxes of ammo. Now, to enter or exit the cashier area you have to go through a door in a separate hallway- or jump over the counter. I kept glancing over my right shoulder to keep an eye on what Stevens was doing; Bob was to my left – we both had our hands up against the glass of the observation windows of the left side range. At this point neither of us could see Mary as she had started down the hallway to re-enter the cashier area. As I looked away from Stevens and back to Bob, Stevens fired two shots. I thought that he had shot and killed Mary- but as I looked over my right shoulder again, I saw her in the cashier area, still standing. Stevens still had the rifle leveled at her head. She then put three more boxes of Remington UMC 9mm on the counter for him. Stevens told Bob and myself to move over to where he was and had Mary re-exit the cashier area join us; standing in a row myself, Mary then Bob. Stevens, rifle still aimed at our heads, told us he wanted extra magazines for the Colt and that we’d “better not bs him because he knew we had extra magazines”. Also he repeated that he’d kill us if we didn’t cooperate. I told him we had extra magazines in the glassed-in display case that he’d been looking at earlier in the day. He walked us down one of the aisles; him in front walking backward to keep the rifle on us. I had the keys to the display case in my pocket and was trying to figure out how to get them out without showing that I was armed. He was about four feet in front of me with the rifle aimed at us. He quickly spun to his right and fired rapidly six times, blowing out the glass in the display case (and incidentally putting rounds through the upper handguard of an Armalite AR-10 that we had on display, through several books, and through the buttstock of the other Colt we had on display). He turned the rifle back on up and with his other arm behind him he reached through the broken glass and scooped up the two other 32 round magazines we had. I remember telling him to be careful not to cut himself on the broken glass: he was already agitated enough- I didn’t want him getting any more disturbed. Stevens then had us turn around and with him behind us he made us walk to the front door area of the store, where he had us put our backs to the wall opposite the front door. Then with the rifle still aimed at us with one hand, he walked over to the pay phone near the cashier area and made a phone call. I didn’t (at the time) know who he was calling and could not hear the conversation. I heard him say “mother” or “mom” though. He then hung up and walked back over to put his back against the glass front door facing us with the rifle. He then said that we’d been nice to him particularly Bob. He then quickly inverted the rifle and placed the muzzle under his chin and his thumb on the trigger. Both Bob and I told him not to shoot himself. Bob said that he probably had a family that loved him and not to do this. Stevens said, “he was dead already.” He then got this weird smile on his face and pulled the muzzle away from his chin. He then stated: “Nah, not right now.” He then told us to “watch the 10 O’clock news” and opened the glass front door and exited. He stood right outside the door and started shouting at us to keep our hands up or he would shoot us through the glass. (I kept thinking- leave m-f’er and I’ll lock that door behind you so fast, and get on the phone to 911). Stevens then re-opened the front door and told us he was going to take us with him. He motioned for us to follow him outside to the parking lot. I made sure I was in front of Bob and Mary as we exited the door. Stevens was walking backward in front of us with the rifle in his right hand, aimed at us. He was cradling the three extra boxes of Rem 9mm in his left hand. He continued to walk backwards away from us as we followed him. The space between us opened up to approximately seven yards. He then told us he was going to kill us. He reached the corner of the building and turned quickly to look down the alley to the rear parking lot, rifle still aimed at us. I drew my Glock, brought it up with both hands on it just as he turned back to us. I saw the front sight come up and fired. I remember squeezing the trigger at least two times (it wasn’t until the trial I found out that I had gotten off four rounds). He fired a split second after I fired my first shot (again, it wasn’t until the trial I found out that he had actually fired twice). I saw him then drop the rifle and ammo and run down the alley. I ran to the corner of the building while yelling for Bob and Mary to get inside and call 911. I did a quick peek down the alley and saw that Stevens was lying down face up, about 30 feet away. I ran up to him, about ten feet away and kept my Glock pointed at him. Just as I got to him, he said, “You shot me!” I told him yes I shot him and to stay down with his hands out. Actually I wasn’t aware that I’d hit him until then; the only visible wound I could see was to his right arm where a round had entered just inside his wrist and opened his arm up exposing the whole length of bone from there to inside his elbow before exiting through his upper arm. At this point I looked over my right shoulder to see Bob opening up the side door to the alley. He was on the phone and I yelled at him to make sure and give the police our description. I turned back to Stevens who now had bloody foam at his mouth. I told him to keep breathing – the ambulance would be there soon. I looked back over my right shoulder to see Bob again coming out the side door, carrying one of the Mossberg 590 shotguns that we had had in the sales area. He approached Stevens and myself with the shotgun shouldered and leveled at Stevens. I told Bob to watch his trigger finger, as I didn’t want him shooting unintentionally. I asked him if he’d given the police our description and he said that he had. Then every police officer in the world arrived. Conclusions and after thoughts: Richard Gable Stevens had a plan that he meticulously detailed out in a long rambling statement that he had left in his car, which the police found during their investigation. His plan was to take us to the back of the building near the dumpster and kill us. Then he planned to take the extra 150 rounds of ammunition and magazines for the Colt 9mm Sporter and go to a downtown San Jose night club called The Usual (where I found out later he had been turned down for a job as a bouncer) and then kill as many people as he could before the police killed him or he killed himself. Stevens himself gave many signals that this was not just a robbery: his total lack of interest in taking any other firearms from the store, not asking for money from the register, his need for extra magazines and ammunition. His statement to “watch the 10 o’clock news.” People have asked me why I didn’t engage Stevens earlier in the store. Up until the moment that he took us outside and he told us he was going to kill us, there was still the chance that this whole thing could end with him just leaving. But after he made it clear what his plans were after taking us from the store, I decided that we had no other options left and I had to act at that point. I hit Stevens twice; once in the right arm as previously described and once in the chest. The chest shot, which turned out to be the first hit, entered through the left nipple destroyed the top 1/3 of his left lung and then exited through his left shoulder blade. The round was found, only slightly expanded, on the asphalt of the parking lot. I’ve spoken to several Law Enforcement firearms training officers and forensic pathologists and the overriding opinion is that the Glock 30’s short barrel (3 3/4”) is insufficient in length for that heavy round to get up to the speed needed for reliable expansion (I’ve since switched to Speer Gold Dot 200grn +P jacket hollow point). I was not aware of the chest wound as he was wearing a black t-shirt and almost all of his bleeding was internal or underneath him. Stevens survived his wounds due to the simply fact that there are three major trauma center hospitals in the area, he was taken to Valley Medical. It turned out that he had almost bled out completely and had to be defibrillated twice in the ambulance on the way. He was 21 at the time and a body builder so he was in good health to begin with. He currently has limited use of his right arm due to the muscle damage, and had two thirds of his left lung removed. When the police arrived on the scene he was non-compliant and had to be shot three times with a less lethal device, a Sage gun, which shoots a hard rubber baton. It’s funny what you remember and what you don’t remember in times of extreme stress. I don’t remember Stevens asking any of us if we were armed when he first came off the range, but the other two people do. I remember after shooting Stevens and standing over him in the parking lot, looking down at my feet to make sure that I was standing correctly and then looking to make sure that my finger was off the trigger and along side the trigger guard as I didn’t want to negligently fire again with all the adrenaline flooding my blood stream. One of the most important things I learned is that everything I’ve ever read about situations like these is basically true. Your training really does take over. Working at the range I had ample opportunity to practice drawing from cover and firing controlled double taps. When the moment came, I don’t recall making the conscious decision to draw, but I had and I had automatically presented my Glock properly, brought it up, found my front sight (big as a beach ball) against his black t-shirt and fired. Other true cliches: none of us remember hearing the shots fired in the parking lot. I had complete tunnel vision at that moment and don’t remember seeing anything other than my front sight on him until he dropped the rifle. I remember running to the corner of the building and looking down to see the rifle and the three dropped boxes of Remington 9mm. At the trial, we had a very aggressive prosecuting attorney and an excellent judge. Everything was fairly straight forward, Richard Gable Stevens was convicted of 14 out of 15 felonies: three counts of armed robbery with use of a firearm, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, three counts of kidnapping, three counts of making terrorist threats, one count of false imprisonment and one count of discharging a weapon in a inhabited building. All of the felonies had sentencing enhancements for use of a firearm. He received a total of 48 years, of which he must serve a mandatory 85% before possibility of parole. He’ll be 62 before he’s eligible for parole. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In answer to the obvious question, yes I was sued by Stevens. For 'negligent discharge of a firearm'. It was with a certain pleasure that I was able to write in the affidavit that, 'no, it was not negligent- I damn well meant to shoot Stevens.' The suit never made it to court as the insurance company for the range, which was named in the suit as well, offered Stevens a 'one time only, no negotiation, offer of $5000' which he took and signed off on any rights to future action. This really REALLY did not sit well with me and the others involved. But the lawyer for the insurance company explained it like this; ' what if he (Stevens) gets a sympathetic court and jury? You (me and the others) could lose your business, your house, everything. So if I could make this whole thing go away for $5000 and didn't do it, I wouldn't be doing my job.' Still bugs me. The one felony charge that Stevens was found not-guilty, was attempted murder of Mary (the shots he took at her in the cashier area). The reason the jury could not agree on the attempted murder charge was this: if he really had wanted to murder her, after taking the two shots and missing, he could have just took a step closer and put the muzzle in her face and shot. He did not. Therefore no attempted murder. Just assault with a deadly weapon. Whatever. I'll never understand how courts work. In the crime scene investigation report, they were able to recreate the scene and map out the bullets trajectories from where Stevens was standing when he fired and the impact points of the bullets in the wall behind where Mary was standing. He missed her head by 12" and 16". I spoke to the ADA about a week ago, and Stevens appeals have run out so I may get my Glock 30, holster, and 6 rounds of HydraShok back soon. So there you go.