Shots Fired: Palm Desert, California — 03•30•1996

A quiet shopping trip ended in a furious gun battle when Dep. Jason Hendrix tried to stop an angry man from killing several hostages.

To Jason Hendrix and his fiancee, March 30, 1996, seemed a perfect day to go shopping for appliances for their new home. It was a beautiful, warm Saturday — “postcard weather” — and pulling into the Circuit City parking lot in Palm Desert, Calif., the couple found plenty of similarly disposed customers inaugurating the first day of Spring Break with their own various shopping sprees.

What the off-duty San Bernardino County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Office deputy couldn’t have known was that he’d soon confront a man with a very different kind of spree in mind.

Hendrix parked and exited his truck and entered the Circuit City store with his bride-to-be. Passing through the doors, Hendrix noticed a heated discussion taking place at a customer service counter. Figuring it was just another business dispute and none of his business, he continued to the rear of the store where the appliances were located.

For the better part of a half hour, Hendrix and his fiancee priced washers and dryers as a store employee dutifully went over the relative merits of each model. Hendrix tried to be respectful of the employee’s time, but repeatedly found his attention drawn to the front of the store. With each passing minute, the disturbance escalated, the voices of those involved grew louder, and their choice of words became more blunt and profane. The argument came to a head with a woman’s sudden scream.

“He’s got a gun!”

Author: Greg Raven

Trained with Chuck Taylor. What else is there to know?