MY PEOPLE

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August 14, 2015 by genelup

The first time I met Phoenix Police Officer Pat Henry he was crying. Actually sobbing. His life was spared because of two faulty bullets. Another police officer was trying to comfort him. I had a camera in hand, but I didn’t take that picture, which I’m sure would have made the front page and probably carried throughout the world by The Associated Press.

This incident happened many years ago when I was a police reporter for The Arizona Republic. Here is Henry’s story the way I reported it:

In a one-sided gun battle in downtown Phoenix (Henry) shot and wounded a suspect fleeing from an attempted holdup of the Open Door Liquor Store, 248 E. Jefferson.

Henry and his partner, Charles Rockyvich, were patrolling downtown Phoenix when they spotted a car traveling down an alley without lights on between Second and Third streets off Washington.

The officers stopped the car and questioned the occupants, Gene Lee Tobble, 24, and Christopher A. Hicks, 26, both of 605 E. Jefferson.

Rockyvich walked away to call police headquarters to determine whether the pair had any record.

“Hicks was in the back seat of the car,” Henry said. “Just then I heard an attempted armed robbery broadcast on our police radio.

“Hicks started to rustle a paper bag and when I looked in the window he stuck a gun in my face.”

Henry said he pushed the weapon away, ducked and crawled to the front of the car.

“When I looked through the windshield, Hicks leaned over the front seat and aimed the gun at me again,” Henry said. “That’s when I fired.”

Two of the officer’s shots went through the windshield, one bullet striking Hicks in the neck.

On investigation of Hicks’s pistol, it was found that two bullets were misfires.

Seconds before the shooting, Hicks attempted to rob the liquor store a half-block away.

Harry Wilinsky, 47, said Hicks came into his store with his hand in a paper sack.

“Give me that gun in the show case,” Hicks told Wilinsky.

The store owner said Hicks then pulled a gun out of the sack and said, “I’ll kill you. Give me that gun.”

Wilinsky walked away and Hicks tried to pry the back off the show case.

“That’s when I hit his hands with my fists,” Wilinsky said. “He then ran away.”

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(I have interviewed and met thousands of people over the 50 years I was a reporter, traveler and free-lance writer. From time-to-time I’ll share “MY PEOPLE” with you.)

 

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