The combination of having physical evidence, witness testimony and interviewing people that were there that night, all came together to make heads and tails of what happened.

Along the way we discovered a few surprises like the fact that the revolver that we thought Gary shot dry actually had one round left hiding in the cylinder. We made discoveries that made us realize that we had some of the important facts about the shooting wrong.

eJournal: The human interest of the story of Gary Kness as related in your book resonates with folks who are not police officers. Tell us a little about meeting him, please.

Wood: Talking with Gary has been one of the most rewarding experiences in researching the book. Gary is a very humble man who felt that he was just living up to his human responsibility to help those in need. He doesn’t see himself as a hero and he is very, very humble about his contribution. I think he has a certain level of regret that he was not able to have a greater impact. It certainly took a lot of courage and bravery for him to interject himself into that fight!

He told me that when he first rolled up on the scene and saw what was happening, his first reaction was disbelief. He thought that it was perhaps a movie or something like that, but as he realized that it was a real event, he said to himself, “Somebody has to do something about this,” and he very quickly realized that the “somebody” was him. He tried to pull Officer Alleyn to cover although he was unable to move him before he came under attack from Davis’ gunfire.

Gary is very hesitant to talk about his military experience but from talking with other people who are familiar with him, I gather that he is a combat veteran from the Korean War where he served as a Marine.

This was probably not Gary’s first experience of having to react under fire. He did what he felt was necessary to save a fellow comrade probably in the same manner that he had done before during his military service.

I think Gary’s role in the fight is particularly instructional for Network members. First, we should note that Gary’s response was not contingent upon being armed. He realized that somebody needed to help and it was within his capacity to do it. The fact that he was not armed was not a factor. That’s important because we tend to obsess about equipment but we really need to realize that it is not the equipment that gives us our abilities, it is that grey matter between our ears.

Network members have skills and knowledge that will make them important contributors to successful resolution of a violent confrontation, be that first aid skills or the kind of raw courage that Gary showed trying to rescue that officer. We can evacuate people and get them away from the scene of an incident; we can call for help and coordinate response. We can also use our weapon or pick up a dropped weapon and join the fight, but there are any number of skills that don’t necessarily involve direct combat that we can contribute to the successful resolution of a violent conflict. Gary is a great role model.

Besides Gary, I talked with three of the four officers who were on the scene during the closing moments of the battle. Each is regretful that they weren’t able to get there sooner, weren’t able to do more when they were there and weren’t able to prevent it from happening. That is just natural in an event like this. Each one took extraordinary risks and showed a great amount of courage and provided a good example for us of that duty that we have to take care of each other.

[Continued...]