Since we spend so much time looking at excessive use of SWAT teams here, it’s worth pointing out instances where they’re used properly, and really do save innocent lives.
The terrifying abduction of an 11-year-old girl began with a kidnapper’s gunshots in the early-morning hours Friday as she was grabbed from her San Jose home. It ended almost five miles away and 12 hours later with a single shot, when a SWAT officer killed 42-year-old Tri Truong Le, the alleged kidnapper, during a gunbattle in a narrow staircase.
The girl, who was in the kidnapper’s arms when the gunbattle started, was miraculously almost unharmed and recovering from the trauma at a hospital, police said.
The officer who fired the fatal head shot was identified by police Friday night as Mauricio Jimenez.
Police Chief Chris Moore said the brave rescue by Jimenez and the highly trained team of special operations officers was the result of “what they are trained to do, time and time again, hoping they never have to use that skill set.”
“I am extremely grateful to our officers today for their courage and professionalism under fire,” Moore said. “Today’s events involved a lot of great work by a lot of people. Being able to reunite this little girl with her family was our number one mission.”
Note that the SWAT team didn’t resort to violence first, as is almost always the case with suspected drug offenders.
Police scoured the city looking for the girl and her kidnapper.
At 12:15 p.m., officers from the San Jose police special operations tracked him down. They quickly surrounded a two-story green-and-beige townhouse in the 3400 block of Pistachio Drive off Senter Road.
As officers set up a command post to see if they could get him to peacefully surrender, the suspect appeared in the window of the townhome with the girl in his arms and fired a handgun at officers.
The officers went into instant hostage rescue mode. They forced open the townhome front door.
Le was still holding the girl in his arms at the top of the stairs when he began firing at the officers. Jimenez fired back with his assault rifle, without hitting the girl, and killed the man.
“This type of crisis hostage situation only happens every 10 or 15 years,” said police spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer. “When an officer has a chance to save a hostage’s life you get one shot to make it count.”
This is why we have SWAT teams—to use violence to defuse an already violent situation. They saved this girl’s life.