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Bill Troutwine: The Last Bar Fight
Bill Troutwine shares this episode at our request. It was a tense situation he faced. He writes: "Bob" had his wife backed in a corner with an assault rifle pointing at her head. My mind was made up, if I could talk him down I would, but if he made any threatening moves with that rifle I was prepared to do what I needed to.
Setting the scene - At the time this story took place I was serving as Sheriff of Petroleum County, Montana. I was the only full-time law enforcement officer in a county of 1700 square miles (over 4 times the area of Adair County, KY - CM), and a population of 500 people. Petroleum County is one of the most remote counties in the United States. No matter what the call was, I always responded alone. I even responded to two different shootings alone while I was sheriff. One of the shootings was intentional and over a girl. The shooter was armed and still in the house when I arrived, but that is another story, and I may write about it sometime later. - BILL TROUTWINE. Click on headline for complete story, links to other Bill Troutwine stories, and photo(s)
By Bill Troutwine
The Last Bar Fight
My last year in Montana started with a call at 2:00AM from the Winnett Bar saying Bob was down at the bar drunk, with a rifle. He had run most of the cowboys out of the bar, and now he was threatening to kill his wife, and then commit suicide. As so many times before, I got up and dressed, but this time I put on my bullet proof vest and picked up my shotgun. Normally, I didn't wear the vest or take the shotgun on routine calls, and this got Donna's attention. She asked, "What is happening?" I said, "Bob is at the Winnett Bar, drunk with a rifle and he is threatening to kill 'Doris'." Donna replied, "What are you going to do? Bob is a friend of yours. He put the new roof on our house and then he helped you remodel the interior." I said, "I know. I like Bob. I sure hope he doesn't force me to kill him." (After it was all over we have had many discussions over that short conversation.)
I left home and headed for the bar. We lived about two blocks from it, so five minutes after receiving the phone call I was at the bar. As I started in the door I was thinking about what Donna had said, Bob was a friend, and I really didn't want to kill him, but many years ago I had made up my mind that when I had to face these types of situations my top priority was always going to be if anyone went home after words it was going to be me.
As I entered the bar, I was remembering the last bar fight I responded to here, in this same bar. It had been barely a year ago. I broke my left leg wrestling another drunk that was armed with a knife. I got a broken leg for my efforts of trying to keep from killing him (there was no tasers then) Now, I was facing another drunk, only this one had a rifle and I was dog gone sure, I wasn't going to try and wrestle a gun away from a drunk, friend or not. (I had to respond alone as any other officers would come from another county more than 50 miles away)
When I swung the doors open and walked through, I had my shotgun in hand, and ready. Bob had his wife backed in a corner with an assault rifle pointing at her head. My mind was made up, if I could talk him down I would, but if he made any threatening moves with that rifle I was prepared to do what I needed to. I said, "Bob, give me the gun, and I'll sit down here with you and we'll talk about what is troubling you."
Bob said, "There's nothing to talk about. Doris told all the cowboys she would show her boobs every time someone buys her a drink. This has been going on all night, and I just couldn't take it anymore. So I went home and got my rifle. When I walked back in the bar those cowboys scattered like a covey of quail. Then he said, 'now I have this all figured out, how about I shoot Doris, then you shoot me? That will end both our miseries.' "
I said, "Now Bob, that may not work out like you think. I'm more than a little nervous right now. What if I don't get off as good of a shot as we hope? With this shotgun, I may accidently blow off your arm or leg or even paralyze you, then you would have to live as a cripple. Don't you think we can come up with a better solution than that?" Then I said, "Why don't you give me the rifle, and let's take a little time, and let you cool off? If you are determined to end everything, you can always do it later. Now do the smart thing, and hand me the rifle."
Without a word, he turned around and handed me the rifle, and started crying. I breathed again for the first time since I had walked through those two front doors. I said, "Bob, come on with me, I have to take you to jail for the night." Bob spent three days in jail, and then Doris bailed him out.
Doris begged the Judge into reducing Bob's charges to disorderly conduct. They paid a $250.00 fine. They left the courthouse and went home together. They are still together, and still living in Montana. - Bill Troutwine
Postscript: This story is actually a sub-story of a story that is titled, my last year in Montana. It is in three parts. You already have the last part it is sub-titled Bill Troutwine: My Last Montana Winter . This one is the first part it and is sub-titled The Last Bar Fight. The third in this series is sub-titled The Last Wild Chase. In a couple of weeks I may send that story also. - BILL
This story was posted on 2014-03-30 09:57:49
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