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Rock Hills SC bank robbery and shoot out


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This clip has been around a bit, but I didn't have the commentary from the primary officer before.  The video link is to one of the hairiest chases/shoot outs I have ever seen.  The professionalism of the units involved is unreal. 
If you are a LEO, and you have not seen this, take 20 minutes out of your day and view/read the whole thing.  My brain is still spinning. 


Hello everyone. My name is Tim and  I'm a police officer with the Rock Hill Police Department  in Rock Hill, SC. I've read some of the comments posted  on the forum concerning my incident, and I can thank
you  enough for the positive feedback. I decided to write down my view of the incident to provide as much information as possible, because  I truly believe the more we know, the better chance we  have to survive.

Also, if you're interested in  downloading the video, go to the following site and  download the "Rock Hill Bank Robbery Chase & Shooting.wmv": http://www.bkvideos.com/files
There's also a lot of  other good videos there ranging from comedy, to law  enforcement, to the military. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please let me know. I hope you find this information useful.


On March 18th, 2005 at approximately 1420, I was preparing to go to  a training class and then work a traffic checkpoint, and  I had to decide what I was going to wear. I had the  option of either putting
on gym clothes (since I was  going to work out afterwards), a partial uniform, or just  put the whole thing on so I wouldn't have to carry all my  police gear. After giving it a little thought, I finally
decided the easiest thing to do was to put the uniform on, and carry the gym clothes in a bag. Our department allows us to take our  patrol vehicles home, so I jumped in my patrol car and  left my apartment, calling my girlfriend while on the  way. My apartment is in an area of Rock Hill called  Manchester Village, which is a commercial area with a  variety of restaurants, a movie theater, and stores like  Target, Best Buy, Ross, Books-A-Million, etc. It's a  growing area of Rock Hill, which sees a lot of traffic throughout the day with I-77 less than a mile away. Along with the plethora of shops is a convenient Bank of America that sits between  a McDonald's and a Dunkin Doughnuts. I pulled up to the  intersection of Springsteen Road and Dave Lyle Blvd,  waiting in traffic like everyone else, talking to my  girlfriend using a hands free headset. As we're talking,  a white SUV, either a Ford Expedition or a Ford
Explorer,  comes flying towards my passenger side door, almost hitting me, with a blonde-haired woman driving it. My first thought was  "What in the hell is this woman doing?" After asking my  girlfriend to hold, I rolled down my window and waited to  hear what this crazy lady wanted. She screams out of her  window "The Bank of America is getting robbed!!!" While I  understood what she said, knowing how many crazy people I  come in contact with, my first thought was "Yeah. Right..." I've been to the calls where someone says "There's a man with a  gun at the bank!" and it turns out to be the security  guard on a break, so I was immediately skeptical. In my  mind I said to myself "Ok lady, I'll play your silly  little game" and started driving towards the bank 100  yards away. Even though my first reaction was that of a
skeptic, with it being 1420 on a Friday after noon when every one is cashing their checks before the weekend, it's certainly possible.  I told my girlfriend I would call her back and began  concentrating on
the issue at hand, but because I had an  earpiece in my ear, I never hung up the phone.
I called dispatch on the radio and notified them about what  just happened while heading towards the bank. As I got  closer, I saw several well-dressed men running from the  bank towards the McDonalds
with this scared look on their  faces, but rather than running away, it seemed like they  were running towards something. I kept dispatch updated  and let them know what I had. One of the men saw me and
immediately pointed towards Chamberside Drive, which parallels Springsteen Road and also connects to Dave Lyle Blvd. He yells  as loud as he can "It's the guy in the brown SUV!" I now  thought back to
the woman that flagged me down; "Huh,  maybe she wasn't kidding?". As I come up to the  intersection of Crown Pointe Lane and Chamberside Drive,  I see a brown Chevy S-10 Blazer driven by a white male wearing a hunting-camouflage ball cap, jacket, jeans, and camouflage  gloves. He was just sitting in traffic, waiting for the  light to change, and the license plate had been removed.  I thought it to be a little
strange that a person that  had just robbed a bank was calmly waiting in traffic, but  then again, I'm sure he was thinking the less attention  he could bring upon himself, the better. This is when thetraining started kicking in.
At this point in my life I  was almost 2 years into my police career and was having a  blast. I'd been in a couple of fights, chased a couple of  cars, and even got smacked by a 19-year-old female dancer.*Wink* I had an interest in joining the Rock Hill SWAT Team, so I  began physically and mentally preparing myself by hitting  the gym and doing some personal homework. I asked our  SWAT Commander Capt. Charles Cabaniss if there were any  good books I could read that would help
prepare me  mentally for the challenges of being on SWAT, and he directed me towards a book called On Combat by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. On Combat describes in great detail the psychological  and
physiological effects a deadly force encounter can  have on the human body, and helps you prepare your mind  and body for WHEN it happens, not IF. I've heard some  people argue "You won't know how you're going to react to  a situation until it happens". To an extent, I disagree. One thing On Combat emphasizes is the necessity for mental conditioning. He uses this example: When you're sitting at  the
traffic light in your patrol car, and you see that  pretty girl flirting with you in the car next to you?  Picture her pointing a gun at you. What would you do? How  would you respond? Practicing little
exercises like this  throughout the day, mentally picturing scenarios and  situations from images in your day-to-day life, are instrumental in how you respond when the situation arises. I regularly  practiced
this, and tried to play out in my head what I  would do if I were ever in a lethal force encounter. I  was about to find out if it worked.
Once I saw the Blazer  sitting in traffic, I immediately began running through  my mind the checklist of things I needed to do to successfully execute a felony traffic stop: Stop the car in a defensive position. Put the car in park. Turn on your blue  lights. Take off your seat belt. Draw your gun. Open your  door. Get into the apex of the door behind cover.  Challenge the suspect with loud, verbal commands. I got  as far as "Take off your seat belt" the suspect exited  his driver's door and pointed at me with both hands
clasped together. Next, I heard a "pop!", my view of him was suddenly obscured by broken glass, and my face hurt. In the half of  a millisecond it took me to process what happened, my  mouth caught up
with my brain and said "Oh shit!"  Immediately I leaned forward in my seat towards the  driver's side door, trying to get as much cover inside of  my car as I could. I drew my gun while the suspect was
still firing, wondering if he was going to charge me or not. When the gunfire stopped, I peeked out of my window to see where he  was, expecting him to either be walking towards me, or  already standing
right beside me. That's when I saw the  Blazer speeding off up Dave Lyle Blvd.
Once the immediate threat was over and I had a chance to process  what happened, the emotions I was feeling quickly changed  from "Oh shit! I'm being shot at!" to "That bastard just  shot at me!" IMMEDIATELY it was PERSONAL. I was PISSED!  Not only was I pissed that this guy almost killed me, but  I was mad at myself for being in a vulnerable position to  be killed. Should I have waited for backup? Did I do the right thing by challenging him by myself? Did my naivety and lack of experience almost get my family an American flag? Regardless, I  made two decisions that carried me through the rest of  the fight:
1. I'm not going to let this suspect get  away.
2. He will never have the jump on me like that  again.
I jumped on the radio and yelled "Shots fired!  Shots fired!" and took off after him.  Like most departments, ours has a policy that states if we're ever  in a vehicle pursuit and our video camera systems are  working, we're required to have the camera running. Our  equipment is setup so that
anytime our cameras are  powered on and we activate our blue lights, the camera  automatically starts recording. A couple of months before this I'd gotten in trouble for a different vehicle pursuit where I forgot to turn on my siren, and while it's important to do so, I  was upset that I got yelled at. If nothing else, I didn't  want to get in trouble again, so I made an effort to make  sure I did things properly
from then on. As I'm driving  up Dave Lyle Blvd towards I-77, after I'd just been shot  at, my windshield was peppered with bullet holes, and my  face was hurting, I remembered how this day started. Since I
was on my way to training and wasn't planning on doing any  traffic stops before I got there, I never turned the  power on to my camera. So while I'm calling out suspect  information on the radio, trying to
call out cross  streets, and drive at the same time, our vehicle pursuit  policy hit me: "Dude, you're in a car chase. Is your camera on?" This is why the first shooting was not caught on camera, and  why
our patrol vehicles now automatically turn on the  power to our cameras when the ignition is  engaged.
To stay true to my second decision of not  letting this guy get the jump on me again, I laid my  pistol in my lap, with the idea that I didn't want to  waste any time getting access to it if he tries shooting  at me again. While I've practiced drawing my gun from my holster countless times before, I couldn't convince myself that it would be faster drawing from the holster than just grabbing it  from my lap. As we approached Springdale Road and Old  Springdale Road, the suspect suddenly stopped in the  middle of the road. I remember gaming out several  different scenarios, trying to anticipate his next move. Obviously, the first one I thought about was "If this guy does anything short of surrendering?" As soon as I saw the driver  door open, it was as if I was at the first shooting all  over again. He stepped out slightly and motioned in the  same manor he did before, but with one exception; this  time, I was ready for him.
My first 4 shots I was  thinking "Get him! Get him! Get him!". I wanted to get my  rounds off quickly to stop him before he had a chance to  shoot at me again. When he sat back down, I fired off 3 more rounds a little slowing and with more accuracy. Next, I slowed down even more, mentally switching from what I would describe  as survival attack mode, to just attack mode. I was  trying to control my shots, aim at the suspect, keep the  front sight post in focus, keep the rear sights aligned,  and squeeze the trigger. This is exactly what I go  through in my mind during firearms training. I did that for 3 rounds before the suspect drove off again. After firing off  a couple more rounds at the vehicle, I started thinking  about action movies. I know that may sound strange, but I  asked myself "Why are you still shooting? The car's not  going to blow up like in the movies, I can't hit anything  vital on the vehicle to disable it, I can't hit the  suspect from here, and what happens if I miss and hit something behind it? And let's not forget he's getting away?". I got back into the car, updated dispatch about what happened and  continued calling out the chase. Now, at this point,  people usually comment on the white pickup. What made him  pull in front of the suspect vehicle while I'm shooting,  I'll never know. The only thing I can think of is he only  had an hour for his lunch, so if the suspect wasn't going to proceed through the intersection, gunfire or not, HE was  going.
As the suspect pulled into the BP station, I  remembered something I read on a poster when I was in  JROTC in high school. It was a list of Murphy's Laws of  Combat, one of which read, "If the enemy is in
range, so  are you!". I also took that to mean that the closer I got to the suspect, while it makes him a bigger target, it also makes ME a bigger target. I increased my distance between the two of us  more
so than what was at Springdale and Old Springdale to  make myself as small a target as I could. When I came to  a stop, I followed the same procedure I did at the second  shooting: I stopped the car, opened the door, got into  the apex of the door, and acquired a target. I was getting ready to fire when all of the sudden, my car starts driving forward on it's own. I thought "Shit! Where is my cover going?".  I
realized I was concentrating so hard on the suspect and  making sure I was a step ahead of him that I forgot to  put my car in park. I sat back down in my seat, put my  foot on the brake, stayed behind cover,
and had to lean  out towards the apex of the door in order to get a clear  shot. I didn't take the time to put the car in park for 3 reasons:
1. I would have to use my shooting hand to put  the car in park.
2. Switch gun hands while there's an  immediate threat that has not been eliminated.
3. I would be concentrating on something else OTHER than the  man trying to kill me.
After  taking the first shot, I saw the suspect reach into his vehicle and pull out something from the passenger seat. It was dark in  color, long, and had a barrel on it. I didn't know what  it was at first, but
I knew it was bigger than a pistol,  yet smaller than an artillery piece. Regardless of what  it was, I knew I didn't want any part of it.  At the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, there's an  instructor
named Misty Brown who covers topics that  include lethal force encounters. As the suspect was  drawing down on me with his rifle, I remembered a  Practical Scenario my group was involved in concerning a barricaded mental subject with a rifle. I remembered Misty commenting on where we took cover behind a vehicle that was parked in front  of that house. She specifically said, "The best place to  take cover on a vehicle is behind the engine block. You  want to put as much metal between you and the incoming  rounds as you can." I was thinking this very thing when I  saw his rifle and quickly retreated to the rear of the  vehicle. This is where I think the bullet hole in my tie came from. Earlier I mentioned I was talking to  my girlfriend on the phone using an earpiece when I was  flagged down at the bank. If you recall, I told her I  would call her back, but I never hung up the phone. Unfortunately, neither did she. She had the unfortunate experience of having to listen to the man she loved fight for his life, knowing  at
any second, this could be the last time she hears my  voice. When I left the vehicle to take cover, I ripped  the earpiece from the phone, ending the call. She  listened to the entire event, hearing me fight
through 3  different gun battles before the phone suddenly goes dead. She didn't hear from me again until an hour later. For those of  you with families, I'm sure you can imagine the emotional  torture she
went through, waiting to hear if I was OK or  not.
At the back of the car, I did this self-check in my  mind to see if I was physically hurt anywhere. I'm not in  pain, nothing appears to be bleeding; I can still fight.  Armed with a rifle, the suspect now has a serious  advantage. He has superior firepower, he can engage me at a greater distance with more accuracy, and my body armor is  useless against those rounds. I again prepared myself for  him to go on the offensive and charge me, so tactically  reloaded my pistol and waited for the gunfire to stop. My  vehicle was still rolling forward, so I had to walk with  it for a short distance before peeking around the
car and  seeing the suspect speeding off again. I got back into my car, told dispatch what happened, and made sure everyone knew that the situation has changed; this guy has a rifle.
Our Patrol Captain, Capt. Charles Cabaniss, pushed for our  department to start a Patrol Rifle problem early on, and  was successful in doing so. Initially getting several  M-16A1 rifles from the military, we did
what most  departments did, which was kept the shotgun in the racks above our head, and locked the M-16's in the trunk. Later, these mounts were removed and the shotgun racks were replaced with the  M-16 racks, allowing the patrol rifle to be accessible  from inside the vehicle. Thanks to a Captain that applies  lessons learned from events like the Hollywood shootout  and Columbine, and who also applies the saying "Don't  plan for IF it will happen, plan for WHEN it will happen", I had a rifle too. Rather than the suspect having the advantage, he and I again can go toe to toe. While the situation  had now become more dangerous than it was before, I felt  confident continuing to pursue the suspect for 2  reasons:
1. I had been given the essential training and  equipment necessary to deal with this situation BEFORE it  happened.
2. My boys were on their way.
As I continued chasing the suspect, I heard Officer John Hewitt  (219) on the radio saying he was behind me and would be  taking over radio communications. Riding along with  Officer Hewitt was Officer Jason Zike, my best friend.  Zike was on his 3rd day back from an 11-month tour as a  Combat Engineer in Iraq, and was riding with Hewitt to re-familiarize himself with policing again. I felt more confident
knowing that friends were close by, but it made me feel even  better knowing my best friend, a combat veteran, was now  joining the fight. As we closed on Springdale Road and  Hopewell Road, the suspect again stopped in the road,  following his usual SOP, but this time he didn't get out  of the car; he just turned around in his seat and opened fire. In my mind, my first priority was to get behind suitable cover,
which would again be the engine block of my car. As soon as I got  the car stopped, I got out and ran towards the back of  the vehicle to take cover, but by the time I got back  there, the shooting already
stopped and the suspect was  driving away again. I looked up, did a self-check to make  sure I wasn't shot, gave Hewitt and Zike a thumb's up,  and we continued after him. When our patrol rifle racks  were installed in our patrol cars, the rifles fit loosely  inside of the clamp that secures them, so riding
around  on even smooth roads would cause this annoying rattle. To fix this problem, a buffer was placed on the inside of the clamp so  it would press up against the rifle, eliminating the  rattle. While the
buffer fixed the rattle, it created a  lot of pressure on the clamp, making it difficult to get  the rifle out of the rack. You had to hold the release  button, push on the clamp to get it to release, then pull down to get the rifle. Also, the racks came with the ability to have a 5 second delay on the activation switch, which is supposed  to unlock the clamp for 5 seconds so you can use both  hands to get the rifle out. Unfortunately, the delay was  not installed in any of our racks, so in order to get the  rifle out you had to hold the button down while pulling  on the clamp. This was easy enough to do when the car is  parked, you're in training, and you have nothing but time.
However, add a pound of stress, a dash of incoming rounds, and  make it life threatening, even the easiest of things  suddenly become extremely complicated. Understand, this  was not a problem with the
rack; this was a problem with  the person installing the rack. It has since been  identified and corrected, and the racks now work beautifully. For those departments that secure their patrol rifles in
their trunks using trunk safes, I'll say this: I could not  imagine attempting to retrieve a rifle from my trunk  using that tiny key while under stress. I can say for  certain that if I had to do so in my situation, either  the rifle would have never come out, or I would have  gotten killed trying. We continued chasing the suspect  down Springdale Road until he made a left onto Firetower  Road. Shortly after turning onto Firetower Road when our  Captain advises us to "Use Caution!" you can see me suddenly move into oncoming traffic for about ¾ of a mile. This is because  I have now let go of my steering wheel, I'm pressing the  release button to my rifle rack with one hand and I am  fighting to get the rifle loose with the other. Here I am  in a high-speed chase, going after an armed suspect  that's shooting at civilians and police officers, and I'm  forced to drive with my knee. After getting back on course and a few more failed attempts, I finally abandoned it altogether.  Other officers also complained of the same  problem.
We chased the suspect into the county so Deputy  Tim Lee and Deputies Tim Carroll and Chris Doty were  nearby and became the lead vehicles. Doty was in field  training with his FTO, and was out of the academy for  only a couple of weeks when the shooting occurred. While heading towards the convenience center, the deputies lost sight of  the suspect because of a hill and 2 sharp turns, but  citizen in oncoming traffic pointed where the suspect  turned, which sent us down Pantry Road. After the suspect  crashed at the convenience center and failed to hijack  the white truck, I pulled up to see him retreating back to his SUV. Again I attempted to retrieve my M-16, which was  still giving me a hard time. If you watch the video  closely, after I've come to a complete stop, you can hear  something that sounds like a person wrestling in the car,  and you see the camera rocking back and forth. That's me  fighting with the rack to get it out, which I was finally  able to break loose. I again took up my normal fighting position, rack a round into the chamber of my M-16, acquire a target, and start popping off rounds. The first couple of rounds I  tried hitting the suspect through the vehicle, or hit  pieces of him that I can barely see. When the gunfire  increases dramatically, it's because the suspect has left  from cover, and charged Hewitt and Zike with the Bushmaster .223 rifle in his hands. The suspect suffered several fatal wounds to his body, and was effectively eliminated as a  threat.

The suspect's name was John David Phillips.  He was a 35-year-old white male who had a history of drug  problems. At the time of his death, traces of THC and  cocaine were found in his blood. The Blazer,
rifle, and  pistol were stolen from his parents, and a receipt found in the vehicle showed he purchased a box of pistol ammunition from the Wal-Mart in Rock Hill 2 hours prior to the robbery. Phillips  was
prior military (Army) and served time in a Virginia  prison for Strong Armed Robbery and our equivalent of  Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill. While in prison  he wrote a 200 page manifesto of how to get
away from the  police. One of the tactics he described was to create as  much havoc as possible while trying to escape in an attempt to distract or disable the officer. Another tactic he described was  to
back his vehicle into a patrol car's front bumper,  deploying the airbags, rendering in inoperable. Mr.  Phillips sustained 9 bullet wounds to his body, 2 of  which were fatal. These fatal rounds were fired by a .223  rifle.
When everything was over and I had time to think  things through, I had a tough time understanding why I  made some of the decisions I did, and why I didn't make  others. I wondered why I didn't ram the
guy while he was  getting out of his car, or why I didn't charge him when  he was distracted. I ended up Monday-morning quarterbacking myself for about 6 months going over every single detail of  the
shooting, thinking "what if" this and "what if" that.  What I ultimately discovered that gave me some peace, is  no matter what I could have done or should have done,  what I DID do ended with the
best possible outcome we  could have hoped for. No civilians or officers were hurt  or killed, and the only casualty was the suspect.
I  finished reading the book On Combat, and I can truly say it helped me immensely throughout the healing process. It explained in  detail what I was feeling, why I was feeling it, and more  importantly, let
me know that I was normal, and not  alone. I strongly recommend anyone in the law enforcement  community to read this book at least once. It might save  your life.
This is not just the story of one officer  against one suspect. This is the story of many courageous  police officers, sheriff's deputies, highway patrolmen  and dispatchers from multiple agencies, all coming together during a traumatic event to ensure the safety of our families, our communities, and our fellow officers. This story is  no different than the millions of law enforcement  officers around the country that put their lives in harms  way so the rest of the country doesn't have to. This is  no different than the thousands of combat troops in  Afghanistan and Iraq that have left their loved ones behind so they can fight for the freedom that most people take for  granted. These people are the true modern day warriors.  They are the sheepdogs protecting their community of  sheep from the wolves that would prey
on them. I'm a  police officer, and I have nothing but the utmost respect  for anyone that puts on a uniform and says "I will protect you". You are all true heroes to me.

"Train how you fight, because you'll fight how you train.  "

Just simply amazing.  And I also agree that Col Grossman has some of the best information on conditioning your mind to a warriors mindset. 

Top shelf, brother  :salute:
Just came off a 12hr night.  Log on ..and wow..  Thanks Zipper..

Starting a week vacation and with a bit of time on my hands, I guess I'm heading to Chapters for that book..
Yeah, you definately want to get anything that Lt. Col. Grossman has written.  Our Association brought him up to speak to us one night and the guy was just electric.  I actually found myself looking at my watch and getting anxious, because I knew he was going to have to finish by 2100 and I didn't want him to stop talking. 
Check out this link:


I love that term...Killology  ;D
Well.. Not one Chapters has this book in stock... so I'm waiting for an order. 

Not sure my association would foot the bill to bring him up here and looking at his schedule he doesn't have many CAN dates, so it sounds like you were fortunate to hear him.

Now looking at that website link, I saw that the DVD series is available but for a big chunk of change (approx $500!).  For curiosity sake, do any of the Training cells/CF entity carry a copy of the series "Bullet Proof Mind" for dissemination? 

For now I'll have to be content to read the books..


PIKER said:
Well.. Not one Chapters has this book in stock... so I'm waiting for an order. 

Not sure my association would foot the bill to bring him up here and looking at his schedule he doesn't have many CAN dates, so it sounds like you were fortunate to hear him.

Probably since we are a border town, we were able to coordinate something when he was near Detroit.  And yes, we were very fortunate.  Maybe you could see if the schedule coincides with your personal travel/courses schedule and go to where he will be?
If nothing else, get the books.  You should be able to get them off the website, or maybe on the net?  I found "On Killing" for pretty cheap at Amazon.com:

Good luck.