Student Story #2

Angel Piss

The title should catch your attention and pique your interest. I will explain the reference at the

I always paid special attention to the crime of ‘Robbery by Firearms’. First impressions are important – on my first night on the street with Houston PD, December 16th, 1968, a man died in my arms from a gunshot wound while I tried to get his final statement and make him comfortable. He was shot during a robbery where the suspects only got eleven dollars and change. The shooter was 14 years old. His grandmother turned him in when she learned of the robbery after questioning his sleeplessness and bad dreams.

Robbery suspects are hard to catch. The crime only takes a short time and the suspect usually has a well-planned escape. Officers typically learn of the robbery after the fact. If the officer knows his district, he can try to predict the suspect’s escape route, but even this does not often pay off. To catch a robbery in progress, the officer has to be in the right place at the right time and he has to be observant. Mostly, it is a matter of luck.

And so, I watched convenience stores and other convenient targets at closing times. One slow night I checked the convenience store at 10th and Heights just before closing. The clerk signaled for me to come inside. There were no vehicles in the parking lot and I did not see any one in the store except for the clerk. Upon entry, the clerk directed me to the rear of the store where he said there was a suspicious man. There was a man at the rear of the store. Upon seeing me, he made his way to the exit and went out into the parking lot. I said something reassuring to the clerk and exited the store to follow-up. I was not cautious.

As I stepped outside, no more than fifteen feet in front of me was a Browning Hi-power 9mm aimed straight at my head. Before I could react, he pulled the trigger – nothing happened. This man looked at the pistol briefly and ran to the rear of the building and down a dark alley. I gave chase but stopped before entering the alley since I was highlighted from the rear. My Kel-Lite was still in the police car.
I went to my unit, called for assistance, grabbed my Kel-Lite and went back to the alley. Johnny S—- was gone but his driver’s license was still at the register. In his haste, he left his ID behind.

I filed my report and went back to work not fully appreciating the fact that I could go home at the end of my shift. Johnny was arrested two weeks later after an exchange of gunfire with two HPD officers. Johnny S—- was a heroin addict and would rather kill than miss his next injection.

A flintlock rifle has a small exposed pan where gunpowder is placed. The flint falls forward when the trigger is pulled making a spark that hopefully ignites the pan of gunpowder. The flash continues though a small hole in the barrel and ignites the main charge firing the rifle. If the pan flashes but the rifle does not discharge, it is called “a flash in the pan”. Sometimes the gunpowder would become damp and would not ignite. Soldiers with flintlocks were told to not let an “angel piss on their musket”.

I never learned why that pistol did not fire – all I know is that he pulled the trigger and nothing
happened. My guardian angel pissed on his musket. It was good to have that angel at my side again.

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