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      New York Nights

      Bob Pilgrim

    Being single, Frank White was assigned to where else-the notorious New York office of FBN. Knowing Frank, he probably lobbied for that assignment because if you wanted action you were going to find it for sure in the city's caverns of criminality.

    One weekend, Frank and his partner, "OB," were in Hell's Kitchen. HK was an enclave cynically named during the struggle of early immigrant communities, because of the difficult and often brutal life it offered its tenants. Violence was a way of life in that briar patch of east midtown Manhattan and most of its population tried to leave the place as soon as personal economics made it possible.

    The two newly minted agents were covering Lenny, who was undercover and negotiating with a drug dealer for the delivery of a large quantity of LSD. The signal for the "buy bust" was-when Lenny raised the trunk of his car to "flash" the money-they would close in. The most dangerous segment of this type of inherently dangerous operation is when the money and dope come together. Although they had a plan, the predators had theirs as well. As soon as the trunk lifted, Lenny was attacked and hurled to the street by two huge thugs. OB shouted into the radio it was a "rip" and the cover team rushed in to join the fight as Lenny was being viciously stomped. Initially fists prevailed, but then the spine tingling warning, "He's got my gun" split the fetid air behind Frank.

    Ron, another team member, had drawn his revolver as they launched toward the melee. One of the suspects had blind sided him: charging out from between two parked cars and disarmed him. Turning around as the suspect was trying to kill Ron with his own gun, Frank drove the bad guy up against a car. Frank's arm was still in a cast from a previous arrest and he did not have time to draw his Colt 1911, so he grabbed the would-be killer with his left hand and tried to choke him into submission while John, another agent, tried to control the gun. OB joined the free-for-all and, over Frank's shoulder, smashed his snub-nosed revolver into the thug's head with no apparent effect. They were losing the struggle for the gun and Ron desperately screamed, "Shoot him!" OB shoved the barrel of his snub into the face of the attacker and yanked on its trigger. Frank maintained his death grip and turned his face away to protect his eyes from the blast and secondary splatter. NOTHING! OB's revol! ver was silent. Suddenly the suspect went limp and collapsed to the street. Whether it was fear or Frank's interrupting his carotid artery blood flow that caused his compliance it really didn't matter and he was quickly cuffed.

    Shaking with adrenalin, OB grabbed Frank's cast-encased arm and in exasperation said, "I pulled the trigger and my gun never fired." As they caught their breath, it became readily apparent what caused the untimely malfunction. The triggerguard on OB's five-shooter had been bent up behind the trigger from the head strike, rendering it inoperable.

    Frankie T. was Frank's new partner. In addition to being a popular and well-liked agent, he excelled as an undercover operative and had pulled off numerous difficult undercover assignments. On another humid and stifling summer night, Frank, Frankie T. and several others were providing overwatch security for John, who was making a cocaine buy in a sleazy Manhattan bar. After the buy had been completed, John advised over the radio that he had spotted Zack Robinson, a notorious drug dealer, dealing dope in the bar. Robinson had been able to elude law enforcement for years and with the probable cause given to them by John, Frank decided to take Zack off the street. Before a plan could be formulated, however, Robinson left the bar and drove away in his Cadillac.

    Frank sped up and tucked in behind his tail fins. He gave a "frag order" over the radio and told the team that at the first opportunity they were going to make a vehicle stop. As soon as the street presented maneuver room, Frank passed and swerved in front of the big Caddy while "follow cars" boxed him in. As soon as Frank approached the car, Zack accelerated in reverse and rammed into one of the follow vehicles in an attempt to smash his way out of the tight cordon. Amid the sounds of crumpling metal and shattering glass, Zack raised a long barreled handgun over the steering wheel. Frank countered by firing through the windshield at Zack's head. Although it was well after midnight, there was plenty of ambient light and Frank had a good sight picture. The round was deflected down and struck him in his upper chest causing him to rise up and twist in his seat. Simultaneously, Mike, another agent, hit Zack twice through the rolled-down driver's window. Continuing his assault, F! rank flanked the driver and as Zack pointed his gun in his direction, he triggered six more fast rounds into his body, Miraculously, Zack slid across the seat and opened the passenger's side door. As Frank quickly reloaded and ran around the front of the car he saw Frankie T. pointing his revolver at Zack. Bleeding profusely, Zack managed to exit and take a few steps into the street before he collapsed.

    After giving responding police his statement, Frank went to the hospital where Zack was undergoing surgery. While waiting for the outcome, Frankie T. asked Frank to walk with him down the hallway. Shaking his head, he told Frank he was quite troubled over the fact that Zack could have easily killed him, but he was unable to shoot and finish him. Frankie T. questioned whether he was in the right line of work and Frank tried to reassure him that he had seen soldiers in combat hesitate, but after their first encounter with "buck fever" they were usually fine afterwards. Frank put his hand on Frankie's shoulder and told him not to worry about it, and that not only were they partners, but he would be with him again if they got into a shootout. Within the year Frank's best friend Frankie was shot and killed during a buy-bust operation.

    Zack survived even though he took seven solid hits from Frank and two from Mike. A former heavyweight boxer, Zack seemed impervious to pain and never went into shock. When Zack took a ten count, rolled over on his back and folded his arms across his chest, Frank knew he was going to live. Things evolved so quickly, Frank did not have enough time to retrieve his 1911 from his vehicle's trunk and instead, had gone in with his backup, a .380 Walther PPK. Because of the intense summer heat and the low profile backup/surveillance they were conducting, Mike was even more lightly armed and had popped Zack twice with his .22 LR High Standard, Double Derringer.

    That night Frank and his team learned that regardless of the assignment, they should carry the largest-caliber, most effective handgun possible while still meeting concealment requirements. The gun's caliber and cartridge must be flexible enough to perform well in soft tissue after passing through a variety of intermediate obstacles. Handgun bullets passing through laminated windshield glass can lose up to 25% of their terminal velocity and are subject to potential deflection. Test your rounds on various barriers.

    When the flag goes up, guns in the trunks of cars are worthless. Always have a flexible plan with contingencies to cope with potential actions on the part of the suspect(s). If possible, rehearse this plan, or at least discuss it, with your teammates before the operation.

    Tunneling in on your threat without paying attention to your flanks and rear can get you killed and you will never see it coming. Always think retention and master your defensive tactical skills.

    Understand that handguns normally don't make good striking instruments. They usually lacerate, but do not deliver enough blunt trauma to disable. In addition, it is possible, as we have seen, to damage your firearm and render it inoperable by using it as an impact weapon.

    Train under realistic conditions until your ability to defend yourself against an unexpected attack becomes reflexive. Always determine the outcome long before the confrontation or it will be determined for you.

    Next article: Frankie makes the ultimate sacrifice. Frank makes a deadly vow.

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