A Shooting on Elm Street – Part III

From Part I:

Duval announced, “He’s down. He’s down.”

Mac responded. “I’m hit!” At that time, the thought occurred to him to remain still since he had been hit near his spine. He didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

If you missed part i: Part I of The Elm Street Shooting
From Part II:

The gangster fired. Mac fired back. Flames erupted from his gun that he held low and tight to his body. He held his radio and a burning cigarette in his other hand.

if you missed part II: Part II of The Elm Street Shooting

The Aftermath

Mac with a bruise from the bullet strike

Mac was sent to St. Francis Hospital for further evaluation and x-ray. He was cleared to return to duty. When he arrived at the station, he found it crowded and abuzz with department brass, homicide detectives, partners, and friends. Mac provided a statement and was cleared to go home. But instead, he stayed in the comfort of his partners and friends for a while, telling and retelling the story to all who gathered to hear it.

At the time, Mac was thirty-one, divorced, with no kids. He found a quiet corner and called his parents in Michigan. It was now about midnight, three a.m. back east. He told them he had been shot, saved by his vest, and that he had taken the life of a 19-year-old gang member. His father, stunned, repeated “Oh my” and “Thank God” as he listened. Mac pictured his father sitting at his mother’s desk in the corner of their bedroom, his mom sitting up in bed asking, What happened? Is he okay?

Alec MacArthur was okay.

The Next Day

He slept uneasily that night and returned to the office late the next morning, only to hear that another deputy-involved shooting had occurred in Firestone.

As is the case with all requests for assistance and notices of shootings and fights, the station emptied as deputies charged through various points of exit and jumped into any available vehicle to respond. Mac had grabbed a detective bureau car and responded. When he arrived at the scene of the shooting, he discovered there was no need for further assistance. Another armed gang member had been shot and killed during the execution of a narcotics warrant, and the situation was under control.

Mac was reminded of his mandatory session with the department shrink and escorted back to the station. In the confusion, the car he had driven to the scene was left there. A couple of hours later, the detective car was torched, presumably by friends of the dead man, his fellow gang members.

There were credible threats of retaliation, and deputies at our station took extreme caution to avoid being ambushed in the coming weeks and months. Mac was temporarily reassigned for his own protection. It was said that the Bishops had put a contract on his life. But soon he would return to Firestone Station where he continued working as a gang investigator for six more relatively uneventful years.

The Rest of the Story

Mac never received any recognition for his courageous actions during a gunfight. It seemed the department shied from rewarding a lawman who, during the course of his duties, justifiably took the life of a bad man. Others who had been shot and saved by their vests, but hadn’t taken a man’s life in the process, were awarded the Medal of Valor.

For the rest of his career—and beyond—Mac would often reflect on that night on Elm Street. He is grateful that he had been able to respond as he had been trained to do during a life-threatening moment, and that in doing so, he had survived being shot. He’s never been happy about killing a half-drunken 19-year-old gang member who, as it turns out, had been shooting at his girlfriend’s house because she cheated on him.

Dupont, the manufacturer of Kevlar, would later have Mac appear in a commercial for their product. He was paid $11,000 for his contribution.

Mac went on to have a successful and, in his words, “wonderful career.” He worked some of the best assignments on our department and ended his career with an eight-year stint at the elite Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.

I am proud to call Mac a friend, and I’m honored to have worked with him at Firestone Station and again later at Homicide Bureau. Most of all, I am grateful that he is alive and well and enjoying retirement in an undisclosed location, surrounded by water.

* * *


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8 thoughts on “A Shooting on Elm Street – Part III

  1. A quick question, what was the role of the L.A. County Police that patrolled the parks and government buildings in the County areas? I only got to see them briefly a few years ago, before they finally disbanded. Thanks for your insights and expertise! ☺

    1. Hi Raul, the county police did just that, patrolled and/or provided security at various county parks, buildings, hospitals, etc. That department was absorbed by LASD back when Baca was empire building.

  2. I read the three parts, and your writing style of this dangerous encounter is extremely superb! Although I was born in the 1980s, I was aware of how dangerous Los Angeles was in those days, when going to a park or even to the local county library was forbidden. The media and the “historians” of today, try to portray that Crack War Era in a race-divisive way, when in reality it was a dangerous time because of the profitability of Crack sales, and the super easy availability of high-power weaponry.

    In those days, it was extremely easy for the gangbanger and criminal element to have access to very powerful assault rifles and machine gun pistols, ready to spit instant death with 30 round magazines. Once the Cold War ended by 1989, the notorious AK-47 would create death and destruction in the streets of Los Angeles. The Politically-Correct Historians don’t understand how powerful and extremely lethal the Crack Wars were, or how an AK-47 round could easily pierce level II body armor or a patrol car door.

    Thank you for having kept all of us safe in the most dangerous decade in Los Angeles! I can’t stress that enough, because many deputies and police officers literally faced a war zone every night on patrol. Those stories are a sober reminder of why units like CRASH and OSS had to be extremely proactive in the 1980s. The media, politicians, and critics have all the time in the world to double-guess and criticize the actions of Police Officers and Sheriff Deputies; but those of us who lived in those crime ridden neighborhoods understood why the police needed to hit the gangs hard. Thanks again for sharing such amazing recollections, and please share more insights from the 80’s. When smartphones and technology were light years away…..

    1. Raul, I hope you are on my FB page. If not, at least shoot me an email (I assume you subscribe to my newsletter, just reply to it). I’d like to chat more in a private setting. BTW, you probably know that army medics used to train at MLK back in those days due to the high volume of gunshot victims by military-caliber weapons. Thanks for the comments and kind words. drs

      1. My pleasure in saying thanks! MLK and General Hospital were in simple terms a military field hospital on a nightly basis. The L.A. County Morgue was filled to capacity, and even borrowed the Miami idea of using refrigerated trailers to store all the victims of a rising Crack War that did not distinguish between the innocent and the combatants.

        There is a book called “City of Quartz” by Mike Davis, that tried to taint the violence of the 1980s as a result of the police tactics. But in reality, I can be sure Mike Davis never set foot in South Central L.A. or East Los Angeles at night. Or how gangs were so entrenched in the middle schools that those schools were “gang factories”. I saw that in the late 1990s btw. The PCP epidemic of the late 1970s and early 1980s is conveniently forgotten by revisionist historians, but for many years, the effects were felt when parks and local public facilities were stripped bare by drug addicts stealing to get their next fix.

        A hidden aspect of the 1980s that very few people have taken into account, was the border area of San Diego-Tijuana. Anything that happens in that region ends up affecting Los Angeles at the same time. The drug trafficking of the border came to Los Angeles and hence, the deadly 1980s violence that came with the profits and turf wars that always comes with drug money.

        Today, from a civilian standpoint, I can see why police officers and deputies have it bad. From wearing a body camera to record their every encounter, to people actively recording the most innocuous police encounter in the hope that those people record their “Rodney King” tape; it takes a psychological toll on every cop and deputy on a daily basis. Its easy to second guess a video tape to no end, and lay blame AFTER the fact on the cop or deputy doing their job, but in that instant, a mistake means the potential of a deputy losing their life in an instant.

        Your anecdotes are a valuable historical record, of an era when Los Angeles and America were being torn by crime and the gangster rap glorifying the violence that destroyed countless lives. Thanks for speaking up and writing about your experiences in detail! ☺

  3. Thanks for pointing out the mindset of the LASD brass (and pretty much all other big city LE agencies) re: their reluctance to award the Medal of Valor to cops who win gunfights. That copper who breaks a window and pulls a 19 year old out of a car that is on fire is most assuredly going to get it. The copper who remains calm under fire and ends up dumping a predator is highly unlikely to get it.
    And yet, how many cops do you know that have been killed while rescuing people from burning cars?

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