BAD: Off-duty firefighter shot and killed when he stopped to help

This is a discussion on BAD: Off-duty firefighter shot and killed when he stopped to help within the In the News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Breaking news, no link yet. As reported by the news tonight, an off-duty firefighter stopped to help a man he thought needed assistance. The firefighter ...

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Thread: BAD: Off-duty firefighter shot and killed when he stopped to help

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array grady's Avatar
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    BAD: Off-duty firefighter shot and killed when he stopped to help

    Breaking news, no link yet. As reported by the news tonight, an off-duty firefighter stopped to help a man he thought needed assistance. The firefighter was instead shot once in the chest and killed. Police caught up with the shooter and shot and killed him.

    Turns out the shooter had stolen several cars tonight, and carjacked an entire family just before he shot the firefighter. I'll post the link once it becomes available.

    As my wife and I were watching the news tonight, the first 4 stories were about murders, with a total of 5 murder victims. After the 4th story, she asked me if we need to move out of St. Louis. I told her that sounds like a good idea if we can find a place without humans. She also said it's not safe to stop and help anyone. Maybe she's starting to get the picture.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Array walvord's Avatar
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    There was a thread a while back about helping people in need. We were pretty divided on it, but this just goes to show you, in MO. dial *55 for the Highway Patrol and tell them of a stranded motorist. I don't get out of the car.
    The most exhilarating thing in life is getting shot at with no results.
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    VIP Member Array grady's Avatar
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    Here's the link: STLtoday - St. Louis firefighter killed by carjacker, who cops kill in shootout

    St. Louis firefighter killed by carjacker, who cops kill in shootout

    THURSDAY NOV 6 2008: St. Louis Fire Department communication supervisor Deborah Berg-Gash prepare a tribute to firefighter Leonard Riggins at fire department headquarters Thursday morning. Riggins was shot Wednesday night in Glasgow Village when he stopped to help a carjacker who had crashed a stolen car.

    Robert Cohen | Post-Dispatch (P-D)By Greg Jonsson and Leah Thorsen
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/06/2008

    UPDATED, 2:15 P.M.

    11.6.2008

    A St. Louis firefighter who thought he was helping a motorist after a wreck Wednesday evening instead found himself confronted by an armed carjacker who shot the firefighter and left him dying in the street.

    Minutes later and a few blocks away at the northern tip of St. Louis on Riverview Drive, the carjacker fired at St. Louis County officers, who shot back and killed the man, ending a carjacking spree that authorities called "chaotic" and pieced together based on witness accounts. The suspect was identified as Christopher Brandon, 19, of St. Louis. (At right) >>

    The firefighter, Leonard Riggins, died later at a hospital from a gunshot wound to the chest. Riggins, 52, was a 15-year veteran of the St. Louis Fire Department and left behind a wife and two sons.

    "He stopped, he tried to help, and he was shot for no reason at all," said St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson, speaking at Christian Northeast Hospital on Wednesday night.

    Authorities were still trying to reconstruct the chain of events Wednesday night but said it appeared Brandon killed the firefighter carjacked or attempted to carjack four cars within a span of minutes. They had no motive for the crimes by Thursday afternoon.

    Moszell and Nicara Kent were two of the suspect's victims. They pulled into their driveway on Perthshire Drive off Spring Garden Drive about 5 p.m. In the car were two of their children, ages 4 and 11.

    Moszell Kent, 31, confronted a man who he thought was trying to jump their fence, and the man reached under his black, zip-up sweater and pulled a gun. The family was able to get out of the car before the gunman took it and drove up Perthshire toward Spring Garden.

    Moszell Kent called 911 for help and chased after the car so he could tell police where the man went. When he reached the intersection of Spring Garden and Perthshire, he saw a wrecked car — apparently previously crashed by the carjacker. That car, too, may have been taken from someone.

    The carjacker crashed the Kents' car a few blocks away at Spring Garden and Dudley Drive. That's where Riggins, in his uniform and driving a Fire Department vehicle, approached the wrecked car thinking he was coming to the aid of a motorist.

    "He thought he came upon an accident scene," said St. Louis County Police Chief Jerry Lee. "He was trying to help."

    Lee said the carjacker may have thought Riggins was a police officer. He struggled with Riggins, shot him and took his car, Lee said.

    "He drove off, leaving the firefighter on the asphalt," Lee said.

    St. Louis County police officers responding to a 911 call reporting an accident came upon the carjacker just a few minutes later. At Spring Garden and Riverview, the gunman was trying to switch the firefighter's car for yet another carjacked vehicle when the officers confronted him.

    Brandon fired at them, and the officers fired back, killing him, Lee said.

    The violent string of events took less than 15 minutes.

    Jenkerson called Riggins "a super gentleman at all times" who died doing "what St. Louis City firefighters do best: helping people."

    "He was always there to help anybody," Jenkerson said.

    St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay called Riggins' death a terrible tragedy, and compared it to other recent deaths of those who serve society.

    "We couldn't live our lives without them," said Slay.

    At a news conference Thursday morning at the St. Louis Fire Department headquarters, 1421 N. Jefferson Ave., Jenkerson said Riggins was a veteran of the U.S. armed services, though the chief didn't know which branch of the military. Riggins began working for the St. Louis city parks department in 1977, then was appointed to the Fire Department on June 1, 1993. He is survived by his wife, Donita Riggins; and two sons, Antwan Banks, 35, and Leonard Riggins Jr., 19.

    Riggins is at least the fifth local emergency responder killed by gunfire this year.

    On Friday, University City police Sgt. Michael King was slain by a gunman as he sat in his parked patrol car.

    Maplewood firefighter Ryan Hummert, 22, was killed in a July 21 ambush, a shooting that also left two Maplewood police officers injured.

    Two police officers — Sgt. William Biggs and Officer Tom Ballman — were among the six public officials and employees who died after an attack by Charles "Cookie" Thornton on Feb. 7 at Kirkwood City Hall.

    Jenkerson, at Thursday's news conference, noted the recent rash of public-safety officials to die and said, "This has got to stop. There has got to be respect for the men and women in uniform."

    Riggins worked at the headquarters as a member of the administrative staff. He was always smiling and always wore his uniform starched and pressed, the chief said. After some renovations at headquarters, Riggins had just gotten his own office. On Wednesday, Riggins had been looking forward to moving his belongings into it, Jenkerson said. That's the last conversation Riggins and Jenkerson had.

    When he was shot, Riggins had left headquarters Wednesday evening and was wearing his department uniform -- a dark blue uniform with his name plate and badge. He was driving a department vehicle, a white Grand Marquis with the words "St. Louis Fire Department" on the side, Jenkerson said.

    Jenkerson said the killing is being classified as an death in the line of duty because Jenkerson said Riggins' job meant he was never off-duty.

    "Leonard was on call at all times, he carried a pager," Jenkerson said.

    The Fire Department has what's called "a duty to act," meaning that if a firefighter is in or out of uniform, they have a responsibility to help if they come across a situation from a car wreck to a heart attack of a restaurant patron.

    Riggins stopped to help, doing "what he'd been trained to do, what he was best at," the fire chief said.

    "Leonard was a guy who would help anybody, at anytime, anywhere and never ask a question," Jenkerson added Thursday. "Anything you needed done .... call Leonard, he'll get it done. He was the go-to guy. He was always there. Leonard was the perfect image of our fire department."
    No indications of anything racial: the last family who was carjacked, the perp, and the firefighter are all black.

    The male carjacking victim said the perp's eye's were about half-closed and red.

    Since the firefighter was still in uniform, perhaps the perp thought he was the police. We may never know why he was killed.

    My condolences for the firefighter's family.

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    In Phoenix recently, a corrections officer stopped to help what appeared to be an injured kid lying in the street. When he left his car, the accomplice shot the CO with a shotgun, killing him. The two then stole to car to go to a party across town. They MURDERED a young husband and father to go to a freakin' PARTY.

    They have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Both are under 18, yet they will be charged as adults and their names have been published.

    Just sickening.

  6. #5
    Distinguished Member Array GWRedDragon's Avatar
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    If only he had been carrying...
    "Trust in God with hand on sword" -Inscription on my family's coat of arms from medieval England
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    RIP Brother
    The choices you make today define you of who you are tommorow

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    Senior Member Array CEW58's Avatar
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    You know. I read a thread like this and I have to take a break for awhile. This sort of thing just really pisses me off!
    The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. ~ Albert Einstein

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    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    Hurts just to read. Can't imagine wife, kids, family, and friends dealing with this (both the CO and firefighter).

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    VIP Member Array grady's Avatar
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    The news tonight reported some more information on the dead murderer: he'd been arrested for murder before, but the prosecutors weren't able to prosecute him because the witnesses were afraid to testify.

    The perp had been arrested recently for stealing a car, but the prosecutors weren't able to prosecute because the car owner was afraid to testify.

    Those who refused to testify bear some responsibility for allowing this thug to remain on the streets, where he eventually killed someone else. I understand they were afraid of retribution if they testified, and certainly he was dangerous. But at some point people have to stand up to criminals or we get thugs like this running around killing innocents.

    I don't buy into the theory that every LEO is the enemy, and that one should never talk to them in reference to crimes in the neighborhood. Yes, talking to the po-po can put your family at risk. But so does saying nothing, thereby letting murderers run free.

  11. #10
    Member Array Engine1's Avatar
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    This hits close to home. So close that I can't really think of anything to say except I am praying for those the firefighter left behind.

    RIP Brother
    "The trouble with small furry animals in a corner is that, just occasionally, one of them's a mongoose." - Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    As reported by the news tonight, an off-duty firefighter stopped to help a man he thought needed assistance. The firefighter was instead shot once in the chest and killed.
    Not surprising. Felons are everywhere. They'll do damned near anything ... for kicks, for unknown reasons, for money, for "juice," for the respect gained in the eyes of others, or for no reason at all.

    WHEN YOU STOP, you are playing on ground of their choosing, by their rules. Think of that, first, when you opt to stop.

    Unknown, whether in this instance the good sam should have seen what was coming. Unknown what cues were present/missed. Unknown, but certainly steps can be taken at all times to help guard against such things.

    While hardly an exhaustive list of points to consider, consider that:
    • Calling for assistance via one's cell phone IS HELPING, whether or not it's deemed by some to be cordial, gracious or even useful.
    • Keeping out of contact distance helps retain your options.
    • Keeping your wits in anticipation of ... whatever ... can help save your life.
    • Only going into such situations ARMED can hope hold any chance of resisting such a situation blowing sideways.
    • Crime can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere.


    Condolences and prayers, for the firefighter, his (her?) family/friends.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
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