“I just happened to glance over and saw this huge chainsaw ripping down the side of my door.”

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

The FBI takes the isolated incident into horror-film territory.

It’s going to be a while before things get back to normal for Judy Sanchez and her three-year-old daughter.

Last Thursday, a team of FBI agents swarmed her apartment building as part of a massive citywide drug and weapons gang raid.

Trouble is, Sanchez lives in apartment 2R.

The suspect they were after is in 2F.

At 6:04 last Thursday morning, just before Sanchez’ alarm was set to go off, she heard a pounding outside her second floor apartment.

“I just happened to glance over and saw this huge chainsaw ripping down the side of my door,” she explains. “And I was freaking out. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Within moments, the chainsaw had cut through most of her door, and someone on the FBI’s arrest team kicked the rest of it in.

“That’s when I heard the clicking of a gun and I heard ‘FBI, get down!’, so I laid right on down.

If the purpose of these raids is to take dangerous people by surprise before they can shoot back at police, how exactly does taking the door down with a chainsaw fit that strategy?

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60 Responses to ““I just happened to glance over and saw this huge chainsaw ripping down the side of my door.””

  1. #1 |  Velcro Bootstraps | 

    Stealth chainsaw. It didn’t wake her up did it? The pounding did.

  2. #2 |  V-Man | 

    The point is not to take the occupants by surprise. It’s to terrorize them into passivity and compliance or, if they attempt to defend themselves, to provide a reason to execute them without having to go through a trial (because you can lose those, and having bad guys escape the LAW is wrong and shouldn’t happen no matter what).

  3. #3 |  Jim March | 

    There are very, very few things in this world that would cause me to shoot through my own front door at parties unknown.

    Coming through it with a chainsaw? Yeah, that’s pretty much RIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE GODDAMN LIST!!!

  4. #4 |  Dante | 

    I have a dream.

    I have a dream that one day, my grand-children will witness the wholesale rejection of anything that comes out of the mouths of people employed by the state.

    I have a dream that all little children everywhere will mock, curse and alienate those foolish and defective humans who falsely believe that telling lies and then backing it up with violence will endear them to the public.

    I have a dream that one day, all of the drug warriors will be on the receiving end of a midnight raid which terrorizes their children and kills their dogs. Any resistance, even verbal, will be met by gunfire.

    I have a dream.

  5. #5 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Wonder if they wore protective hockey, er, SWAT masks………….

  6. #6 |  Roger | 

    Chainsaw my door and before you get halfway through it you’ll find 10 rounds of 45ACP headed inbound. Soon after 30 rounds of 223 will be joining them. It won’t end well for anyone.

    How f’ing stupid is this approach by our “professionals”?? Lots of good honest people are being terrorized. Based on this excessive use of storm trooper tactics lots of innocent people are getting hurt or killed.

    I long for the “old days”.

  7. #7 |  MikeP | 

    It was probably a quick saw. It’s used on metal doors or doors that have been reinforced with metal.

  8. #8 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “Last Thursday, a team of FBI agents swarmed her apartment building as part of a massive citywide drug and weapons gang raid.”

    Cool, warrants to terrorize entire cities. Only in the Land
    of the Free.

  9. #9 |  Sinchy | 

    If it was a 2 year investigation that led to these raids the FBI should have known very well that a woman and a young child lived in that apartment and instead of raiding her house they should have quietly removed her and her daughter from the building BEFORE the raids started for their safety. After all they were going after dangerous drug dealers and weapons and the mom and girl could have been collateral damage in the gun battle the FBI were preparing for.
    But they don’t really give a shit even to bother checking what apartment they are busting into. Total incompetence and disregard for human life.

  10. #10 |  Marty | 

    as a fireman, I gotta say cutting stuff up with chainsaws is really cool.

  11. #11 |  Aresen | 

    @ V-Man | February 1st, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I agree.

    I would only add that the purpose appears not merely to terrorize the bad guys into passivity, but the general population as well.

  12. #12 |  Scott Lazarowitz | 

    “If the purpose of these raids is to take dangerous people by surprise before they can shoot back at police, how exactly does taking the door down with a chainsaw fit that strategy?”

    Radley, you’re talking about government bureaucrats here.

  13. #13 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @4 – I have a dream, that your grand kids will see you dying in agony from a treatable disease which your health insurance won’t cover because of something thirty years before which got missed off a form.

    Oh wait, that’s not a dream, it’s a COMMON FUCKING OCCURRENCE in the US.

  14. #14 |  Goober | 

    “She should have heard us yelling “Police!” over the sound of the chainsaw. She should not have resisted, there is no excuse for someone seeing her goddamned front door being bisected by a frigging chainsaw to assume anything other than the people on the other side are peaceful, legally commissioned police officers who mean her no harm.” – stupid asshole FBI guy explaining why they almost killed an innocent woman (and would have if she’d reacted rationally to her door being sawed in half and tried to defend herself).

    This scares the crap out of me, because this would, to me, be a damned good reason to commit a rule 3 violation (rule three is “always know exactly what you are shooting at before you pull the trigger”) because in my mind, frightened by my front door being sawed in half and not really seeing any reason to assume that the person on the other side is a cop (really, why would that occur to you when some crazy bastard is using a chansaw to cut your door in half that it might be a cop?), I’d probably start shooting through the damned door at whomever was on the other side. Worst of all, it would probably be a murder rap for my trouble because juries would see a dead cop and not bother to consider the circumstances.

    This steroid fueld machismo bullshit has got to stop. There is no reason – no. reason. – that this should be allowed, and that these cops should not be fired and possibly even prosecuted.

  15. #15 |  Goober | 

    Leon – you really think that giving the government control over health insurance will make that better?

    I have some ocean front property in Scottsdale that you might be interested in…

  16. #16 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    While I am against the War On drugs, and also against raids of most sorts, I will say this in defense of the police; it strikes me that these days a street where the buildings are all, or even larhely, visibly numbered is the xception rather than the rule. I have less experience with apartment numbers, but I expect that the situation in neighborhoods where drug raids are likely isn’t a lot better (less a comment on the people living there than on their cheap-ass landlords).

    Of course, if the police would stop doing violent-entry raids, this wouldn’t be a problem.

  17. #17 |  Roho | 

    And I’ll provide a 100% money-back guarantee that if she’d grabbed a firearm as a (reasonable) reaction to persons unknown going Leatherface on her door, she would:
    A. Now be hospitalized, or dead
    B. Be portrayed as a hyper-predatory cop-killer, willing to go down in a blaze of glory if only she could take a few of them with her. Compared with –
    C. The poor police, who were totally surprised by the situation, and had no way of knowing what was going on.
    D. While the warrant was for the wrong apartment, they did find drug paraphernalia (cigarette lighter) and the tools for a grow operation (light bulbs).

  18. #18 |  akromper | 

    CSP. maybe, but if was a two year operation you’d think the least anyone could do was verify the address and apt locations.

  19. #19 |  JSL | 

    Leon: “@4 – I have a dream, that your grand kids will see you dying in agony from a treatable disease which your health insurance won’t cover because of something thirty years before which got missed off a form.”

    I had a dream, that the first black president helped to pass a law that made everyone a slave to the federal government. Oh wait, that was a nightmare and a real one.

    You can be a slave if you want Leon but I expect you to have the honor and guts to ninja suit up and come arrest me for not paying my slave tax er healthcare mandated insurance.

  20. #20 |  steve | 

    Whatever the reason for using a chainsaw to execute a warrant, it isn’t for the sake of officer or public safety. When the police execute an arrest of a suspect they know to be armed and dangerous, what they do is surround the building, cut off all utilities, and wait for the perp to surrender. This is the safest way to take custody of a dangerous criminal regardless of the criminals armament or preparedness. The only exception is a hostage situation which may justify storming the building for the sake of the hostages. That being more of a judgement call about the perpetrators immediate intentions.

    Of course in most cases, simply knocking on the door is sufficient to execute a warrant.

  21. #21 |  treed | 

    You all need to shut up. What do you expect from an underfunded band of local rubes? You paid for a “Barney Fife” and you got . . . ugh . . . erh . . . what do you mean this was the FBI?? Oh, God, don’t tell me that. Radley is supposed to write about good ole boy elected cops from counties in Mississippi that nobody has ever heard of. The FBI got the wrong freakin’ door? The ELITE FBI got “door intel” wrong? Is this the same FBI that’s supposed to use intel to protect us from determined international terrorists? Wrong door is what I expect from the TSA.

  22. #22 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I have a dream, that your grand kids will see you dying in agony from a treatable disease which your health insurance won’t cover

    What is defined as a treatable disease? Is there any limit that should be considered when treating disease? For example: cost, survival %, patient choice, and pain to patient.

    Also, I watched a relative die from a treatable disease by choice. I think RB posted about this issue. Basically, even a lot of doctors choose to not undergo chemo when survival % are low…choosing quality of final days.

  23. #23 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Slow clap to the FBI (for presumably starting a chainsaw within a couple pulls).

  24. #24 |  Chris Mallory | 

    Leon, you can provide citations? After all according to you this is “common”.

  25. #25 |  Bee | 

    The first comment under that article is from another person who apparently experienced a similar wrong-door raid that same morning, in the same area. Truly stunning.

  26. #26 |  Mattocracy | 

    Seriously Leon, fuck you pal.

  27. #27 |  marco73 | 

    The only reason this makes the news at all is the chainsaw. It they’d have just kicked in the door, even the wrong door, and terrorized a young mother and her child for 35 minutes, this isn’t even page 5 of the Metro section.
    The woman had to lay in her dog’s pee while it took 35 minutes to determine that they had the wrong apartment. Nice touch not to shoot the dog.
    Radley, this is 2 days in a row you’ve posted excessive force stories where there were dogs involved, and no LEO shot the dog. They are losing their touch.

  28. #28 |  Fatwa Arbuckle | 

    Per the article, these criminally incompetent federal Sicherheitspolizei missed a perfectly good opportunity to commit puppycide with a chainsaw.

    Fucking lazy public servants.

  29. #29 |  Law Prof | 

    There are Thugs in Blue.

    There are also Thugs in $1000 worsted wool suits with custom made shirts. They are known as “Special” Agents of the FBI.

    When their testosterone level hits a certain point it cuts off the brain.
    As the [i]Gehime Sicherheitspolizei[/i] well knew, terrorizing others is just GREAT FUN. And shooting doggy’s proves that your special “FBI load” cartridges actuall will kill (a 30 pound Dachshund).

    J. Edgar would have sent these guys to the Butte office before the gas fumes from the chainsaw had dissipated. Incompetent cowards.

    Oh well, no agent was injured and every member of the team got a good look at her tits. Great raid!

  30. #30 |  treed | 

    Fatwa at 28,
    “Puppycide with a chainsaw”. Very good! This should work into Radley’s comic book story. Good visuals.

  31. #31 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    All I can suggest is that that might be a little difficult, even over two years, if the higher-ups were all busy playing Top Secret Squirrel. If there are’t any numbers (true in many places, as I pointed out), and the city records are a clusterf*ck (an even-money bet anywhere in the U.S.), and you can’t ask questions in the neighborhood, lest you “blow” your “cover” (asking about where drugs are is something else, of course), then how the hell do you make sure?

    The chainsaw is simply idiotic. That there was a doorbusters raid in the first place is idiotic. I’m just suggesting that not getting the addresses right is probably an artefact of policy set by higher-ups.

  32. #32 |  Bergman | 

    Re: Mattocracy, #26:

    Run, do not walk, to the nearest comedy club and get an emergency sense-of-humor transplant, NOW. Your case is terminal.

  33. #33 |  Genius J | 

    Surprised they don’t charge her with arming herself with a deadly weapon after she held onto her puppy.

  34. #34 |  EBL | 

    Well you know how drug dealers fear chain saws. They have seen Scarface like a zillion times.

  35. #35 |  zendingo | 


    leon’s an ass, trust….

  36. #36 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    *pictures someone hearing banging on the door, leaning up against it to peer through the peephole and see who it is, and then getting mutilated when a chainsaw blade suddenly comes through the door*

  37. #37 |  PermaLurker | 

    Even if the numbers were squirrelly, why didn’t they just ask the damn mailman?

  38. #38 |  rukymoss | 

    Not related to the story above, but encouraging:

  39. #39 |  Loretta Nall | 

    If they really thought it was an armed gang members apartment you can bet your ass they wouldn’t have used a chain saw to gain entry. Because they would have been shot. And if anyone ever starts sawing through my door with a damn chainsaw, anytime day or night, I’m shooting the hell out of them. I will probably die but I won’t die bowing and scraping to these goons.

  40. #40 |  Andrew S. | 

    Don’t read the comments… don’t read the comments…

    ::reads comments::
    ::sees someone link to Radley’s raidmap @ Cato::

    Really a link to o the CATO Institute? Why not a more direct link to Koch Industries? The last thing that these Koch ‘think tanks’ are interested in individual rights. Corporate rights, well that’s another question….

    GAH. ::bangs head into desk repeatedly::

  41. #41 |  hamburglar007 | 

    I have a dream. It is that the populace will wake out of their complacency and start paying attention to the laws being passed, the lawmakers who pass those laws, and start voting the lawmakers who enable such incidents the hell out. While blame lies with government for shit like this, Americans who don’t pay attention to incidents such as this, or the government in general, share some blame as well.

  42. #42 |  buzz | 

    Totally agree with Jim March. Almost nothing would get me to start shooting thru my front door at unknown targets, but a chainsaw cutting thru my door would qualify. There is zero legitimate reason for anyone law abiding who didnt wish me harm to do so.

    Leon “Oh wait, that’s not a dream, it’s a COMMON FUCKING OCCURRENCE in the US.”
    Name one time. Now if your talking about preexisting conditions not being covered, then dont call it insurance. Call it I-want-someone-else-to-pay-my-medical-bills. Which is a defensible position, especially for expensive procedures, but it aint insurance. Insurance is a bet between the insurance company and you (and everyone else in that pool) that very few of you will have anything expensive happen to you. If, on the other hand, you already have something expensive happened to you, I dont understand why you think the insurance company, in exchange for a small fee will pay a huge multiple of your premium.

  43. #43 |  Ben | 

    Wow, I grew up in Fitchburg and my parents still live there, so this one hits close to home for me.

    A chainsaw? Really? I wish I had something more articulate to say here, but WTF?

  44. #44 |  Dan | 

    This is the first time I have read that a chain saw (or equiv) was used in a “dynamic entry” situation. It likely isn’t the first time, but I can’t help wonder if this is a field trial of someones pet idea (or a product) for use in the relatively confined space of an apartment complex hallway.
    Botched raid or no, tactically speaking this is an incredibly stupid idea. The time it takes to saw three (or four) strokes through a door clearly puts the user in a much higher degree of danger than other techniques. As evidenced by some of the commentary here.

  45. #45 |  Personanongrata | 

    The FBI cowboys responsible for this act of terror are fractions of human beings.

  46. #46 |  Marshall | 

    What if there was a dog? Wouldn’t you want a chainsaw?

  47. #47 |  Frank Hummel | 

    So you’d think a two year investigation entails some wiretapping, under cover work and surveillance. At no point during that investigation did Apt 2R come up? How about the operational briefing? Was the team provided with layout of the building?

    Also, the suspect was arrested next door after 35 minutes. How stupid was that guy? Cops with guns burst into your neighbour’s apt and you sit there waiting. If really was this mean drug lord, i would quitely slither out my back door or window. The guy/gal is either not really involved or innocent.

  48. #48 |  Whim | 

    #46 Marshall:

    There was a dog. It was a puppy that pee’d itself.

  49. #49 |  Mike T | 

    I’m curious… in what alternate reality would anyone, criminal, non-criminal or even normal street cop, think that someone busting down a door with a chainsaw is someone other than a serial killer?

  50. #50 |  A Critic | 

    Wait a minute…there was someone living in Fitchburg who WASN’T dealing drugs?

  51. #51 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I would think it was police if they had, say four vehicles, lights flashing and sirens blaring full blast parked all around my building (as close as possible to the building and a policemanman with a bullhorn who kept saying at 10 second intervals “this is the FBI” through the bull horn (bull horn should be turned on).

    It is not impossible for police (or FBI) to announce in a manner that will be heard and understood. They just don’t try.

  52. #52 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I didn’t see anyone else make note but this was a crappy apartment with to-be-expected crappy doors. I can ass-bump open a door in 1/4 second without all the other issues of operating a fucking chainsaw.

    Valid reasons to use chainsaw to open a door = 0.

    And, as a guy who safely operates a chainsaw I cannot imagine how to safely cut open a door.

  53. #53 |  qwerty42 | 

    Hey, let’s look at the bright side: they didn’t shoot the dog. Which is practically de rigueur for these events.

  54. #54 |  Vindi | 

    Couldn’t the cops have simply beat on the door? Why all the drama? I sorta think it’s all an effort to “condition” the American public, to think this is “normal”…this is the way they do it? Of course it’s nuts, but then again… nothing else makes much sense….not anymore!!

    Leon: I agree with your comment. This HealthCare Bill is going to allow YOU or ME to simply die. If they don’t feel like having you around…see ya!! They don’t care if you have a family, loved ones, that your illness could be cured. All they’re thinking about is that they are gods….they can call the shots. We’re in trouble kids….better get right with our Creator, and fasten your seat bealts. The ride is about to become really scarey….and extremely bumpy.

  55. #55 |  Sinchy | 

    Stories like this really should be brought out into the open by national news outlets and not relegated to the local news websites. I would love to see Robert Muller asked by ABC news about the use of a chain saw. It’s a freakin embarrassment.

  56. #56 |  MikeP | 

    It was likely a quick saw. They are used for metal doors, sturdy doors that open outward and reinforced doors and doors that just generally can’t be knocked in that easily.

  57. #57 |  Brent | 

    I guess the FBI doesn’t have a sense of humor. Yesterday on the FBI Community Relations Facebook page I posted a link to the original article and left the comment “I don’t think this is going to help your community relations.” Today I notice that they deleted the link and blocked me from commenting on anything.

  58. #58 |  albatross | 

    Yeah, just in general, I’m having a hell of a time thinking of how a chainsaw made sense here. Among other things, if I had a loaded gun in my possession, and someone started hacking through my door with a chainsaw, I imagine I’d shoot at them, too. How could anyone even hope to hear “FBI” or “police” over that noise? And how did the chainsaw guy avoid hitting metal parts in the door? Isn’t that kinda dangerous?

    My first guess here is that lots and lots of SWAT team actions are basically people living out their action movie fantasies with real humans as victims. And as these stories continue to come out, there will be more and more backlash. In another ten years, going to court with a police abuse case after a botched SWAT raid is going to be damned expensive, because every potential juror will have seen footage of these raids going bad.

  59. #59 |  Joe in Missouri | 

    FBI the wonderful people who shot Vicky Weaver in the head as she held her baby att Ruby Ridge and chopped the hands and feet off of Gordon Kahl while he was still alive. Paragons of virtue the unconstitutional and criminal FBI.


  60. #60 |  Jay | 

    My stomach really started churning when I thought about someone leaning up against the door. “Teenager brutally chainsawed to death by police breaking into wrong address.”