Oklahoma Police Chief Shot During An Apparent SWATting Raid; Homeowner Won’t Be Charged

Posted at 11:28 am on January 17, 2015 by Bob Owens

There is a bizarre story unfolding in Sentinel, Oklahoma, where a police chief was shot numerous times Thursday morning by a homeowner, but the homeowner isn’t facing any charges.

On Thursday morning, someone called in a bomb threat to a local school district.

According to the local news, the caller “identified himself” as Dallas Horton, and then claimed he had placed a bomb in a school. While Oklahoma State Police EOD were dispatched to handle the bomb threat, Sentinel Police Chief Louis Ross and two Sheriff’s deputies went to the Horton home.

They kicked in the door, and made entry, and things quickly went south from there.

Around 6 a.m. Sentinel Police Chief Louis Ross and two Sheriff’s deputies went to a home in the 200 block S. 4th.

Officers entered the home and cleared the first room. But as they entered the second room, a man identified as Dallas Horton shot Chief Ross three times, twice in his bullet proof vest and once in the arm. OSBI said the chief actually borrowed the bullet proof vest from one of the deputies just before entering the home.

After firing numerous shots, Horton surrendered himself to the officers. OSBI officials said no officers fired their weapons during the incident. Horton and his wife were taken into custody for questioning.

According to the OSBI, authorities found some type of explosive device inside the home.

However, the OSBI said Horton will not be arrested at this time. He was taken into investigative detention after the shooting. For the past several hours, OSBI investigators said they extensively interviewed Horton. Facts surrounding the case lead agents to believe Horton was unaware it was officers who made entry.

Horton has been released from police custody.

I think it is fair to say that when a citizen shoots a law enforcement officer numerous times and the citizen is not charged, something about the situation is abnormal, and it appears that gun blogger Miguel Gonzalez was right on the money when he speculated that Dallas Horton may have been SWATted.

Miguel’s speculation seems born out by an investigation conducted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation which indicates that none of the phones owned by the Horton family placed the bomb threat.

OSBI says they have gone through phones at the home where they thought the bomb threat originated and found the phone calls did not come from that location.

OSBI says the man who shot a Sentinel police chief will not be arrested at this time. Agents interviewed the man and believe he was unaware it was officers entering his home.

Police say the Sentinel Police Chief Louis Ross was shot three times in the chest and once in the arm as he and two Washita County deputies were investigating the home of a bomb threat suspect around 6 a.m. Thursday. The home was located on the 200 block of S. 4th.

All three law enforcement officers and the entire Horton family were placed in extreme danger by the apparent SWATter… which was the point of the SWATting call.  I sincerely hope that authorities are able to trace this false bomb threat back to the source, and then arrest the caller for multiple counts of attempted murder, one for every law enforcement officer and Horton family member. Until SWATters start going to prison, this sort of thing is going to continue to happen.

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Chief Ross

We’re very thankful that Dallas Horton is a good shot and kept all his shots center mass where Chief Ross’s bullet-resistant vest was able to absorb the majority of the damage from Horton’s bullets. We’re also very thankful for the professionalism of the Washita County Sheriff’s deputies, who kept their cool and did not unload on Horton and allowed him to surrender in what must have been an incredibly tense situation where an officer was shot just seconds before.

Hopefully Chief Ross will fully recover from his wounds and be back on duty shortly with no long-term physical or psychological damage, and we hope that the Horton family fully recovers from the trauma as well.

As for you, Mr. SWATter… we hope that the authorities catch you, and send you to prison for a very long time.

* * *

The continuing law enforcement practice of no-knock raids is also part of the problem which continues to make SWATting such an effective terrorist act, and a serious threat to the lives of all concerned. While we’re aware of the fact that law enforcement likes to use the tactic to quickly take control of a scene and prevent suspects from either arming themselves or possibly deposing of evidence, the practice has led to numerous innocent people being killed either on purpose or by accident, and to a number of officers being shot by both suspects and other officers.

Effectively carrying out a no-knock raids is always high-risk, and the risks are heightened by the lack of training of most officers. Most law enforcement agencies simply lack the training budgets to get their officers to a competent level to conduct this sort of raid, and as this instance and the murder (yes, I consider it a murder) of Jose Guerena point out, these are often mixed agency raids by under-trained officers, compounding the likelihood of deadly errors.

Horton was likely still asleep as the 6:00 AM raid began, and clearly didn’t hear the officers announce themselves (if, in fact, they did announce themselves).  If officers had simply knocked on the door or rang the doorbell until Horton answered the door, this entire situation could have been resolved without any shots being fired or lives put at significant risk.

It is our opinion that no-knock raids are used far too frequently in situations where they are simply not needed. The law enforcement community needs to take a long, hard look at their use of this tactic, and retire it except for a very narrowly-defined set of circumstances.

[The first story cited notes, “some type of explosive device” was found in the home. This has not been substantiated in later reporting, suggesting that either the media account was erroneous. It is also possible that Horton, an avid shooter according to his Facebook page, owned some sort of binary explosive targets, such as Tannerite, which is perfectly legal to own.]