You probably don’t know his name, but if you were of a certain age in 1993, you almost certainly know his shot.
On August 16, 1993, Columbus SWAT sniper Mike Plumb got into position behind his Steyr SSG PII, and focused intently on a suicidal Doug Conley, just 82 yards away. Conley had pulled a cheap plastic chair into the middle of a residential intersection, and was pointing a .38 Special revolver at his head, threatening to commit suicide in the sweltering August heat.
When Conley took a swig from a beverage offered by police he momentarily lowered his hand holding the revolver, and what happened next became legendary.
Irritated and out of options, SWAT commanders decided it was time for this to end. Plumb was given the order: Go.
Conley took a swig of a soda negotiators had given him, and he sat up straight in his chair. He put his left hand on his knee. With his right hand, he lowered the revolver between his legs — into Plumb’s crosshairs.
Plumb racked another round into the chamber before Conley realized what had happened. But Plumb didn’t need another bullet.
Conley looked down to see his revolver in three pieces on the ground, shattered by Plumb’s shot. SWAT officers gang tackled him.
“That was a great shot,” Conley said as officers handcuffed him.
It has been almost 22 years since officer Plumb fired the shot. He retired from the police force in 2000, and and at 64 years old, he is just a month from retirement as the city’s facility security manager.
Officer Plumb’s rifle preceded him into retirement, and it—along with the remains of Conley’s revolver—hangs in a place of honor in Columbus SWAT headquarters.
Police and military sniping are very similar in some ways, and very different in others. Military snipers are lauded for shots fired across sometimes incredible distances to disable equipment or put down enemy fighters, while police snipers are almost always asked to fire at incredibly small targets at ranges inside 100 yards. Both kinds of snipers, however, learn the art of sniping to save lives.
If you’ve never seen “the shot seen ’round the world,” you owe it to yourself to watch the video below. Be sure to turn the sound off, as the annoying British narrator gets an incredible amount of detail wrong as he describes the incident. Just enjoy the incredible life-saving precision of Plumb’s shot.