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JAN 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 1

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JAN 2021 Blues Vol 37 No. 1

Webster Groves MO

Webster Groves MO Officer Ambushed LEO Shot 6 Times by Stranded Motorist The officer was walking toward the vehicle to assist the driver when the driver flung open the car door and shot him. By Kim Bell St. Louis Post-Dispatch WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. — A few dozen times a year, patrol officers in Webster Groves assist stranded motorists on Interstate 44, and a car that had come to a stop in the far-left passing lane of the interstate in May seemed no different. Police Officer Brendan McGahan pulled his patrol car behind the white sedan that had stopped near Elm Avenue. McGahan walked along the left shoulder of the highway, shining his flashlight on the car as he strode closer, then motioned for the driver to roll down his window. But in an instant the driver, Qavon Webb, flung open the car door and shot McGahan in the chest from about 5 or 6 feet away, dashboard video from Mc- Gahan’s cruiser showed. McGahan spun around and fell backward, with Webb firing five more shots while running toward the officer, circling him. The two struggled and McGahan, still on the ground, managed to return fire with 13 shots in rapid succession, killing 23-year-old Webb. The harrowing scene occurred about 8:20 p.m. on May 5. The time between the first and last shots was 19 seconds, all while drivers in cars and tractor-trailers continued to zip by, apparently unaware of what was happening. McGahan, 36, was shot six times that night but is back at work, celebrating his eighth year as a Webster Groves officer, police Chief Dale Curtis said. McGahan was awarded a purple heart from the department for his actions that night. After watching the video, Curtis said, it’s hard to believe his officer survived the attack. “It was frankly a miracle,” Curtis said. “The whole thing is kind of surreal.” Webster Groves released a 16-minute video from the dashboard camera showing the shooting and its aftermath. The department plans to use the video for firearms training. Officers will experience what McGahan saw as the video plays on a big screen before them. “They will understand the possibilities for danger even on routine calls, which is what this was supposed to be,” Curtis said. After the shooting, Curtis asked the St. Louis County Police Department to investigate the case. “We reviewed this incident mainly from the video and everything we’ve seen, everything he did was appropriate,” Curtis said. “He followed proper procedures. The video speaks for itself.” McGahan was hit first in the chest, his body armor stopping the bullet. Curtis gave the Post-Dispatch a photograph of the officer’s chest that appeared to show a hole. Even though the bullet didn’t penetrate the vest, the trauma from the impact at close range led to dead skin tissue and bruising, Curtis said. That first bullet knocked Mc- Gahan to the ground and more shots followed. The officer dropped his flashlight. It spun around with its beam fixed on the dashboard camera, obscuring his struggle with Webb. Curtis thinks Webb was going for the officer’s gun but said McGahan “doesn’t have a total recollection of everything that happened.” McGahan returned fire in rapid succession, ending with Webb falling dead on the pavement. Officers are trained to shoot as many rounds as it takes until a threat is neutralized, Curtis said. McGahan radioed for help, screaming that he’d been hit, and frantically waved to another officer who was parked farther back to block traffic. McGahan then applied his own tourniquet to his bleeding arm. As the assisting officer watched CLICK TO WATCH DASH CAM VIDEO over Webb’s body and the scene, another officer rushed his wounded colleague to a hospital. Bullets hit McGahan in the hand, arm and the buttocks, and “there was another one to his leg and a couple in the vest,” Curtis said. McGahan was back home the next day. He still has one or two bullets lodged in his body. They’re not causing any complications and surgery to remove them would be risky, Curtis said. McGahan returned to work once a doctor and a psychologist cleared him. The chief said the video will help train Webster Groves officers on how to approach cars get your FREE SUBSCRIPTION to The BLUES, scan the QR code or click here. “so they’re aware of a real-life situation that can happen.” Webb had opened and closed his car door three times before Mc- Gahan approached. In retrospect, such actions could be considered suspicious and prompt an officer to first call for backup, said Curtis, explaining that he wasn’t second-guessing his officer. “I have no fault with the way he handled it,” Curtis said. “He just thought he was going to assist a motorist. He was motioning with his hand to ask the guy to roll down his window, to ask him what the problem was.” The chief added, “You can’t assist a motorist with your gun drawn.” 24 The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE 25

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