A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Hero in Tacoma

On November 21,2005, Dominick Sergio Maldonado, 20, of Tacoma, Washington pleaded not guilty to assault, kidnapping and firearms charges for shooting up the Tacoma Mall. He is being held on $2 million bail. Police say Maldonado stormed through the mall shooting randomly at shoppers. He surrendered to law enforcement about four hours later after shooting six people and taking four hostages in a Sam Goody music store. On November 22, police were still trying to determine how Maldonado, a convicted felon, had obtained the two weapons he carried into the mall. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is helping Tacoma detectives trace the history of the weapons. Enough about the criminal scum. His deranged actions simply set the stage for the real story.

Brendan McKownBrendan "Dan" McKown was delivering a bank deposit for Excalibur Cutlery, a mall gift store, when gunshots scattered shoppers at noon in Tacoma. Dan McKown was an armed CCW holder. Witnesses state that McKown stood about 20 feet from the gunman when he faced him and drew his own pistol before being shot. Whether he spoke to the gunman is unknown. "Our understanding is that Dan drew his weapon and confronted the gunman," his stepmother, Beverly McKown, said during a news conference Tuesday at Tacoma General Hospital. “Dan is always one who believed in protecting people and he put his life on the line for other people,” McKown's father said. “His actions and the actions of others like him may have prevented additional casualties by confronting the aggression and possibly changing the gunman’s action early in the conflict.”

McKown, 38, was shot twice in the abdomen and has been on life support, said hospital spokesman Todd Kelley. The two bullets severely damaged McKown's intestines and abdominal muscles, but doctors were able to repair the damage. Tragically, McKown also suffered injury to his spinal cord. A second surgery to remove bullet and bone fragments from his spinal canal was successful, Kelley stated, but the bullets caused "significant nerve damage that will likely result in permanent paralysis." McKown was being brought out of a medically induced coma Tuesday. The other shooting victims were treated at hospitals and released. A longtime friend of McKown's who talked with witnesses after the shooting said McKown always carried a gun. "He's always been worried about the way society is going, and for him, carrying a handgun was less for himself than for others," Syrus Corbin said. McKown "has always had a fear of being there when someone flips out and just starts shooting people, and I'll be damned if it didn't happen to him." Employees of the Kits Camera store, where McKown fell, cared for him for more than an hour before he could be rushed to the hospital. He was conscious, they said, but were unsure if he said anything.

The McKowns, of Yelm, Thurston County, described their bachelor son as a look-alike of late-night TV host Conan O'Brien, with a great sense of humor, a passion for photography and a deep Christian faith. They said that while they are worried he may be paralyzed for life, they are certain McKown's faith will sustain him. The Dan McKown Medical Fund, set up to help offset McKown's expenses, has been established through the Bank of America. Donations may be made at any Bank of America branch, the family said. The account number is 83799 577. The family would also like to encourage people to go to their local blood bank and donate blood in Dan McKown's name.

The McKowns, who are active in prison ministries in part because McKown's father spent some time behind bars years ago for his own "bad choices," said they have been praying nonstop for their son and for Maldonado. "We are not angry," said Beverly McKown. "We are praying for Dan and we are praying for this boy. God is a healer."

Many, including myself, will argue whether Brendan McKown's decision to take on a rifleman while armed only with a handgun was a wise decision. What is inarguable is that it was a courageous decision. Brendan "Dan" McKown, thank you. Your actions are a credit to CCW holders everywhere.

Update on Dan McKown

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Blogger AlanDP said...

Someone should try to create a sort of "hall of honor" or something like that for civilians who were carrying and were killed or injured while trying to stop a criminal. This man and Mark Wilson, who died in Tyler, TX this past February would make a start.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, this is the second time this week that I have read about a CCW holder trying to stop an armed gunman. Well, not the second, as I have read about others, but this does sound like the second time that I have read about one where they seemed to stop, and not actually shoot. Now, granted, I am going on limited information, but it has taught me one thing.

If you confront someone, don't tell them to stop if they have a gun. Don't pause. Don't give them a chance at all. Just shoot.

Act like you don't have a concealed firearm and act like all the other sheep until they look away, then kill them. Be the sheepdog, but don't let them know you are being the sheepdog until you have a clear shot and they won't know what is happening.

Now again, I'm not sure from the information that was presented that this was the case, but it sounds like it. I am not trying to say anything bad about what he did in the least, so please don't think that. I hold this man in the highest regard, as anyone else who dies or is injured for their fellow man. No, I hold him in the same regard as I do our soldiers, and anyone else who has the presence of mind to stand up to the wolves and be the sheepdog.

That said, I do think that it is entirely appropriate to try to learn something from this, and this is only continuing to solidify it in my mind, that you don't let them know what is coming.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This man is a hero.

1:15 PM  
Blogger J. said...

McKown is not a hero.

He apparently a drew his gun and shot Maldonado after realizing Maldonado was armed. Maldonado responded by shooting back. McKown 'triggered' the shooting spree. Yes, it might have happened without McKown's involvement. Or, addle-brained tweaker Maldonado might have gotten himself arrested with no violence occurring. McKown likely decided the outcome.

A reasonable person would alert the police and mall security, not initiate the rampage. Furthermore, McKown appears to be a particularly inept gun owner. About the only thing he did not do wrong is shoot himself.

Hero? No. McKown behaved like a fool and is going to pay a high price for it.

1:57 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Do you have a source for your info? It's unique.

6:10 AM  
Blogger J. said...

I am basing it on local broadcast news -- TV and radio. But, I do need to clarify. It seems to be clear that McKown pointed the gun at Maldonado, but there has been no forensics report on whether it actually fired. We should wait for something official before saying that it was. I have noticed that the police are being guarded in their remarks. Maybe they are not too enthusiatic about what McKown did either.

I am quite concerned that people are painting McKown as a hero, though. Doing so could encourage other emulate what he did -- confront a well-armed man ineffectively. We don't want that to happen.

2:48 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Ok, J, here is my rebuttal.........
It is quite likely that what you state is true. However...there is a concerted effort against CCW in this country, as well as for it. Those opposing CCW, would love to paint this incident as an example of why nobody but criminals should carry firearms. You state "He apparently a drew his gun and shot Maldonado after realizing Maldonado was armed." Yet Maldonado was not wounded. That is one glaring inconsistency.

There are many in the media who like to toss around their weight, not siding with an issue, and merely desiring to initiate change for it's own benefit. Media initiated change enhances their own oversized ego. CCW is one of those issues they either support or attack to do this. Local news media is every bit as bad as national media in this regard, if not worse, especially local talk radio. Be wary of giving to much credence to these sources. They function on the nocturnal aviation principle and disappear when the glaring light of truth arrives.

Witnesses unequivocally state Maldonado was firing as he was advancing through the mall. The location of victims seems to support this. Witnesses state Maldonado was already firing when McKown drew his weapon. I believe there is a good chance that McKown did or shouted something to draw Maldonado's attention rather than just shoot. If so, that was his was a mistake. He should have simply shot. I cannot call his decision to draw his weapon a mistake without a lot more information, and factual information, not the morning DJ's opinion.

It can be argued that many people, from Audie Murphy and Alvin York to Gary Seale performed acts of extreme stupidity that were none the less extremely courageous. The merit of an act can be forever debated. What is indisputable is some people act while others stand by and allow evil to occur unopposed.

I refuse to denigrate Mr. McKown until I know he did something wrong. I have stated "Many, including myself, will argue whether Brendan McKown's decision to take on a rifleman while armed only with a handgun was a wise decision. What is inarguable is that it was a courageous decision." I stand by that.

4:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to weigh in on this one. First off, I see no reason - none whatsoever - to claim that "McKown 'triggered' the shooting spree". That's absurd. The bad guy walked into a mall with two loaded weapons, for Christ's sake. He was not there to return them for a refund.

Second, McKown might, or might not, have made a good tactical decision, but he sure as hell made a brave and selfless decision. He could have chosen to run, and nobody would have held it against him. Instead, against all odds, he chose to hold his ground and defend the innocent. I see nothing in any of the reports of this matter to detract from this very straightforward observation.

This is a good man who has paid a terrible price for his heroism. Shame on anyone who diminishes his sacrifice.

If we can learn a tactical lesson here, fine, but that will have to wait until we know a few more details. None of us really know what McKown did, or what the shooter was up to at that instant. A rifleman in a crowded mall is a horrible tactical situation. Most people would have simply fled.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow... so, an armed lunatic who is bent on some sort of criminal activity walks into a mall, and a CCW holder draws on him, instead of being a good little sheep and getting a cop, and the shooting spree is HIS fault? What an outrageous line of thought.

I am very sorry but no. Had he gone to get a cop or something, and the guy started shooting, then he would have missed an excellent opportunity to take the thug down right then and there.

I said that I believe he made a tactical error, and unless more information comes to light, that was his ONLY mistake. Everything else he did shows remarkable bravery and heroism.

8:13 AM  
Blogger J. said...

Tactical error, my arse. This is a tragic comedy of errors. McKown will likely be paralyzed for life because he let John Wayne fantasies get in the way of common sense. If there is any lesson to be learned from his experience, it is 'don't let having a gun and permit give you false confidence. Think before you act.'

9:34 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Mr. Mckown has not stated he has John Wayne fantasies, nor has he demonstrated any predisposition to having them. Can you cite a source, other than the morning DJ?

When confronted with the extreme stress of a life/death encounter, people do bizarre things. I'm reminded of the Newhall shootings where one officer emptied a fully loaded gun into the ground in the middle of a gunfight, apparently so the BG would not get it.

Nobody knows how they will act or react, regardless of the training they got at some pistol camp, or even prior life/death experiences. Each situation is unique.

9:54 PM  

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