Home Open Account Help 158 users online

Railroaders' Nostalgia > I've never had a gun pointed at me before...


Pages:  [ 1 ][ 2 ] [ Next ]
Current Page:1 of 2


Date: 06/28/22 21:25
I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: santafe199

Even though I’ve been retired from train service over 11 years this will definitely be a Nostalgic interlude for me, as well as another first! And the only reason I so easily understand the following situation -once it played completely out- is because of my 32 years’ experience in train service. In short, in my career I learned to always expect the unexpected. With that said, buckle your seat belt! This story is going to be a doozy...

On the 27th just past I got yet another phone text tip about another KP train approaching my home town of Manhattan. This one was a westbound unit tank train. At nearly the same time I got a text from another tipster passing through the area. It was about an interesting consist coming west down the GSR. I looked at the estimated times for both trains and I was sure I could juggle them without much trouble. Plus I would probably be able to meet in person with the friend who was passing through on his way to Missouri. It would be fun, even if just for a short time.

I left the house, drove east of town and staked out a spot at what TO member mg8711 & I affectionately call the “Swamp”. After the tank train was safely converted to pixel form I made a beeline down to Paxico, KS on the GSR. My friend passing through had arrived in Paxico just ahead of me. His tip was about a westbound train with a CN/NS/CN consist for power. Unfortunately that train was still on the other side of Topeka. He didn’t want to lose a lot of his travel time waiting for it, so I offered to take him further east to Maple Hill. And on to Willard if need be. But if we were to make a run for Topeka we would likely get caught zigging east while the train was zagging west. Even if we ultimately failed to bag the train he would at least get a firsthand look at some territory he’s never seen before. He thought that was a good idea.

I showed him the few public crossings around Maple Hill. We moved further east and stopped to look at the sweeping curve at the Willard Rd crossing way east of town and started formulating an alternate plan. Then the crossing gates suddenly came to life and we barely got a westbound stacker rolling by. My friend was getting a bit concerned about investing too much time, so I offered to take him another few miles east to Willard. I knew the shooting angles would be very tight, but he wanted to check out the shot from the brand new bridge over the UP Main Line/Kansas River. It had the usual chain-link fencing over the track, but he decided he could get his camera lens close enough to get a decent shot of the train passing by what few trackside building were still standing. While he was up there, a westbound unit grainer rolled through giving us our second unexpected train. I’m way too old and out of shape to make the dash up there, so I got that train in marginal shot from down below.

He got another update on the CN-led train which was finally out of Topeka and decided to shoot it right there off the bridge at Willard. I wanted to drop back and see what I could do with one of the crossings at Maple Hill. So we bid each other a friendly adieu and parted ways. He said he would text me when the train went through Willard, which he did. I decided on catching the train at the bottom end of Main St at Maple Hill. I got the text, and after the right amount of time I saw the CN-led train show up. But it ran right into the siding and killed its headlight. Alrighty then, I’m going to see a meet. So I stayed right there with a back-lit, but decent angle for an eastbound shot. BUT........ the eastward signal at the west switch remained red over red. Ok... this train is going to get ran around. So now I’m thinking I can move over to the Cowboy Rd(?) crossing right at the west switch where I’ll get a decent runaround shot, reaching in with up to 300mm.

My first hint that something weird was going on was when I saw the west switch was lined for the siding. Ok, maybe the train DS changed his mind about the meet, and this train would come on out. But It didn’t. And the switch remained lined for the siding. So I waited without a clue as to what was going on. And waited. And waited. Over an hour passed and I was losing the sunshine to overcast conditions. I was totally mystified. I drove over to a parallel road which leads to that sweeping curve at the Willard Rd crossing. Along that road there is a plot of land designated for burning tree limbs & brush, etc. I was able to get a so-so, nose-coupled roster shot of the rear unit, the 3221. And I went back to the Main St crossing trying figure out what I was going to do.

As I sat there with the motor running and the AC on I saw a large white pickup drive up from the east, only to stop abut 30 yards short of me. Then some blue & red lights started flashing from inside the grill. Aha, an unmarked deputy. Probably wanting to know what I was up to. So I put Willie IV in gear to go down and talk to him. Then the weirdness meter blew a gasket! He crouched behind his door and ordered me very loudly to “halt right there!”. From behind that door he even had his left palm up in the classic “halt” gesture. He wasn’t fooling around either. Which became even more evident when I saw that he had drawn his side arm. And I had NO DOUBT that it was “open for business, bay-bay”...

I stopped my rig and just sat there waiting for whatever was to happen next. I had no clue what I was up against, but knew enough not try arguing that I wasn’t breaking any laws. With obvious nervousness, and his side arm at the ready he approached me very cautiously. He ordered me: “...get out of your car slowly and keep your hands in the clear.” When I did so he asked: “Are you feeling OK?” That was a complete surprise, but I answered in return: “Sure, I feel fine.” He walked a bit closer and asked again: “Are you sure you’re OK?”. Again I answered yes. Not knowing what else to say, I finally offered that I was a photographer. This seemed to take a little of his nervousness away, and he came closer. He asked me a third time about how I felt, with my same answer. I thought I could try to explain what I was doing: “I’m a railfan photographer”. I think the word photographer finally hit home with him, even though it took a couple of times.

In my mind I was wondering if there had been some dangerous criminal running around the countryside, and maybe I had been at risk. But that wasn’t the case at all! This young officer was maybe 28 or so, and looked like he could be a starting defensive end for just about any college football team around. He closed more of the distance between us and asked me if I had any weapons. I answered: “No, I’ve never owned a gun in my life.” Then he said: “You do know I’ll have to pat you down.” Definitely a first in 46+ years of railfanning! Next he asked for my driver’s license which I produced. He called in all of my data on the radio, including my “ATSF199” car tag while I just stood there. Then he asked me about my photography. I was now relaxed enough to explain that I took pictures of trains as a hobby, and that I was a hobby-historian. And that I was waiting for the train in the siding to come on out. He stated very curtly: “I’m the one who gave the order to stop that train”. The weirdness meter spiked again...

His radio crackled to life and he answered it. Evidently I was given a clean slate. He was almost completely relaxed now, and asked if I would show him my camera. I started to bend over into my front seat, but quickly froze. I turned back to him to explain I was only reaching for my CAMERA, and he just nodded. When I produced my D7100 with the 70 ~ 300mm zoom attached a look of relief washed completely over his face. You’d have thought he just found some precious item he’d been searching a long time for.

And then, almost apologetically he told me that somebody in Maple Hill had seen me waiting at the crossing and called in a suicide by train situation. He told me he drove over from the county seat at Alma at very high speeds on I-70. He also said he had backup officers and an ambulance all on the way. I told him I was retired from train service and that I had heard of, but never experienced a suicide by train event. He said: “...so you understand where we’re coming from?”. I reassured him that I did indeed understand. And that seemed to take away some of the embarrassment he was now showing. We chatted for just a few seconds. He did finally apologize and told me I hadn’t broken any laws. Then he shook my hand and made his way back to his unmarked rig.

I didn’t hang around to shoot that CN/NS/CN consist. I had lost the sunshine anyway. And a little voice inside was telling me: “Let’s just go home, we’ve had enough adventure for one day...”

1. & 2. Known by me only because of the tip, CN 2943 leads NS 1805 & CN 3221 on train CBNLOP 21 ‘in the hole’ at Maple Hill, KS. This train is stopped about ¼ mile short of the west switch, with the switch open...

3. CN 3221 is trailing 3rd out. Photo taken from a tree & brush burning plot east of Maple Hill.
(3 photos taken June 27, 2022)

Thanks for the tip, I guess... ;^)
Lance Garrels
santafe199

BTW: The office never quite pointed his gun directly at me. But it was close. Very close...



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 06/28/22 21:39 by santafe199.








Date: 06/29/22 06:19
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: twjurgens

Great story!  A maybe not so pleasant memory for you and, no doubt, something that deputy will remember.



Date: 06/29/22 10:00
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: radar

A vehicle is a potential weapon.  Moving your vehicle was a direct threat to the officer, and you are lucky you didn't get shot.  On top of that, due to the nature of the call, he was worried about the situation escalating to suicide by cop.  Should I ever be pulled over in my car, I would fully open the driver side window, shut off the vehicle, keep my hands slow and visible by putting them high on the steering wheel, shut up, and wait for instructions.  That lowers the officer's fear level, and keeps everyone calm.  You have to understand that making the initial approach toward a stopped vehicle, even for a speeding infraction, is a very dangerous thing for them.  People get shot by police every day because they don't understand this.  Once they are relaxed from confirming there are no weapons around, then you can argue about the ticket.



Date: 06/29/22 10:11
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: PHall

Just a little reminder that some of the things we do when chasing a train can look very different to an outsider.



Date: 06/29/22 10:11
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: jmhemmer

Back in the 2000s, Homeland Security received intel--even concrete evidence--that Bad Guys might try to blow up a chlorine tank car or two and kill a lot of people.  FRA, the Feds, and the railroads launched several cooperative initiatives, some very effecttive, to reduce chlorine transport and protect the remaining movements.  One of those efforts was for railroads to ask local police to watch for suspicious characters hanging around yards and tracks (which, of course, helped end the days of easy railfan access to railroad terminals).  As UP's General Counsel back then, I was involved in those discussions, with several meetings in D.C.

Time passed.  One free weekend, I drove from Omaha down to your territory, Lance, to shoot action on the Transcon.  I drove west out of Emporia on U.S. 50--you have been chronicling that area recently--and set up camp in my car on a derelict dirt road between the separating BNSF main lines.  

About 15 minutes later, flashing lights jumped over the crossing behind me.  A much less nervous officer than your guy ordered me out of my car.  DUHH, I had no idea why he was investigating me.  Trespassing?  He questioned me for a couple minutes, checked my license, and decided I might be a (rail)nut but not dangerous.  Then he told me that the railroad had asked them to look out for people lurking near tracks.  Ohhhh, yeah!  We DID ask you to do exactly what you are doing.  (And me?  I forgot.)  Thanks for your service!!!  He kindly didn't embarass me further and let me flee to Strong City for lunch and a beer.  



Date: 06/29/22 12:25
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: E25

That's quite a story, Lance.

When I was living in the LA area in the '70s I had a good friend who was a San Bernardino County DS who often accompanyied me on my Cajon and Tehachapi vistis.  Needless to say, a quick flash of the badge shortened-up a lot of conversations with various folks who wondered what we were up to.

Greg Stadter
Phoenix, AZ



Date: 06/29/22 13:16
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: jbohdan2

Reading this post aggravated a near PTSD situation I had going back about eight years ago in Texas.  I have a brother who lives in Texas and every few years or so I go down to visit, and we typically do some railfanning together as we have for over thirty years now.  One afternoon we were winding down the day's activities and were driving by BNSF's old BN yard between Saginaw and Fort Worth.  As we drove down a public street running along the west side of the facility, I saw a parked BNSF rebuild GP30 unit right by the road, so I pulled over into a parking lot on the other side of the street to snap a quick roster shot.  As I parked, I noted two Fort Worth police cars idling in the same lot, parked window to window (Monad style) so their occupants could easily converse.  My brother and I walked to the edge of the lot to take our shots of the locomotive across the street.  As I clicked the shutter, I heard a voice behind me say "I know what you are doing is perfectly legal, but I am going to need to see some identification." Nearly 45 minutes later, we were still detained for the chain of events these two fellows set in motion.  We readily produced our driver's licenses, which were taken to the respective cars and kept there while the "investigation" ran its course.  The officer I mainly dealt with suggested at one point that he had some kind of detection device that was reading radioactivity in my vicinity.  He also questioned the presence of two scanners in my vehicle and surmised that my brother and I used them to communicate with each other.  After considerable waiting, another vehicle pulled into the parking lot, and the two men that emerged eventually identified themselves as agents from the Department of Homeland Security.  A complete new round of questioning ensued, and when I explained to the lead agent that my brother and I were railroad photographers, his response was baffling.  He advised that he was the lead agent for railroad security issues in that part of Texas, and that he had never heard of a hobby of railroad photography......  Ultimately, the DHS car left, and about ten minutes later, a second dark colored vehicle pulled into the lot.  The two people who emerged identified themselves as FBI agents.  After a thankfully short discussion with these agents, our licenses and cameras were returned to us by the visibly disappointed local officers.  I knew I was dealing with someone with knowledge when the FBI agent asked if I had shot the UP 844 steam excursion earlier in the year.  No firearms were drawn or pointed in this overblown encounter, but I have to confess that this incident still resonates with me and likely will for however remaining years I devote to this past-time.  I well recognize that 9/11 changed the world for the worse two plus decades ago now, and there will be no going back to the carefree days of railfanning that us older types were able to enjoy in decades past.  Cab rides and easy access to terminal properties are things that younger railfans can only dream of nowadays.  Sad developments, but inevitable I suppose. 



Date: 06/30/22 00:18
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: santafe199

radar Wrote: > ... Moving your vehicle was a direct threat to the officer ...

Point taken. And thank you. My thinking was this: I knew he couldn't see me very well through my FRONT windshield. My intent was to roll down closer so he could see right in my open driver's window. Which I did at maybe 3-4 MPH. The second he made the halt motion I stopped. "ON A DIME". And I did exactly what he told me to all the way through the encounter. I knew it would eventually come to the ending it did, so I was completely submissive. And patient...

Lance/199



Date: 06/30/22 17:32
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: march_hare

In 1982, I was on a vacation trip home to upstate NY, sitting in my rental car near the NYSW engine house in Binghamton NY. As near as I could tell, I was on public property. 

Pretty soon, a D&H company cop pulled up to check me out. Fortunately, it was a guy I had known for years, since the 1970s when I was the station kid around Cobleskill. He was quite insistent that I move along, uhh, NOW. As I did so, I asked (politely) whether I was on public property or not. He seemed unconcerned with that issue, but told me that President Reagan was in town for some kind of event, and was scheduled to pass over the I 81 overpass directly above my car. The fact that I was next to a bridge pier made somebody anxious that I was a car bomber. 



Date: 06/30/22 21:54
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: PHall

march_hare Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In 1982, I was on a vacation trip home to upstate
> NY, sitting in my rental car near the NYSW engine
> house in Binghamton NY. As near as I could tell, I
> was on public property. 
>
> Pretty soon, a D&H company cop pulled up to check
> me out. Fortunately, it was a guy I had known for
> years, since the 1970s when I was the station kid
> around Cobleskill. He was quite insistent that I
> move along, uhh, NOW. As I did so, I asked
> (politely) whether I was on public property or
> not. He seemed unconcerned with that issue, but
> told me that President Reagan was in town for some
> kind of event, and was scheduled to pass over the
> I 81 overpass directly above my car. The fact that
> I was next to a bridge pier made somebody anxious
> that I was a car bomber. 

Be happy it was your buddy the RR Cop and not the Secret Service. They have absolutely no sense of humor at all.



Date: 06/30/22 22:27
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: Graybeard1942

About ten years ago, I was photographing CORP from an old overpass in the Medford OR area.  A woman pulled up in a private vehicle and identified herself as a Homeland Security agent. She stated it was a federal crime to photograph trains anywhere. Sometimes, the path to least resistance is the best option and I drove away. I knew she was a few marbles short of a pack.  I did a little research with friends with CORP and it turned out she was just a private security guard.I ran into her a few months later at Hilt and I was careful to stay on the county road.  Nonetheless, she phoned the sheriff to report I was trespassing.  The sheriff was not too impressed with her report. After I, and several others complained directly to CORP, she was gone.

My most enjoyable law enforcement encounter was at Emmigrant Gap.  I met a CHP officer who was also a railfan.  We talked for an hour.



Date: 07/01/22 11:41
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: wabash2800

At a stop for a burned out headlight, I was asked the same question about me having any firearms in my car. I answered exactly the way you did as I don't own any firearms. The cop said  "I didn't ask you that! I just wanted to know if you have any firearms in the car!".

A situation like what you had would ruin my whole day.

Victor B.



Date: 07/01/22 14:04
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: jst3751

wabash2800 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> At a stop for a burned out headlight, I was asked
> the same question about me having any firearms in
> my car. I answered exactly the way you did as I
> don't own any firearms. The cop said  "I didn't
> ask you that! I just wanted to know if you have
> any firearms in the car!".

What does whether or not you own any firearms have to so with "do you have any firearms in the car?"

Thats what leads to problems, when people fail to listen and answer appropriately, and instead do a quick mental digestion and spit out an answer to a different question.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/01/22 14:04 by jst3751.



Date: 07/01/22 17:19
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: wabash2800

I guess that makes two troublemakers, Lance and I.

Victor B.

jst3751 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> What does whether or not you own any firearms have
> to so with "do you have any firearms in the car?"
>
> Thats what leads to problems, when people fail to
> listen and answer appropriately, and instead do a
> quick mental digestion and spit out an answer to a
> different question.



Date: 07/02/22 00:48
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: santafe199

wabash2800 Wrote: > .. that makes two troublemakers, Lance and I ...

WHOA!!!! You do NOT lump me in with you



Date: 07/03/22 18:10
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: ProAmtrak

Man if that was me I'd probably have the same feeling, and thoughts running through my mind on anyone who I'm close with asking me why I'm the way I am after something like that!



Date: 07/04/22 11:14
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: sixbit

Wabash:

I've a number of friends in law enforcement (Cal. Highway Patrol, Tuolumne County Sheriff's Dept., etc.) and they all advised that if pulled over, roll down your front driver side window, don't figit in the car and keep your hands on the steering wheel top. Once when heading for Oakdale from Sonora, I was pulled over by CHP just east of Oakdale. I have a conceal and carry permit and my weapon was with me in the holster (left hip). When the officer came to the window the first thing I advised him was that I had a conceal and carry permit that the weapon was on my person and where it was located. He looked me over, asked me to slowly produce my drivers license and conceal and carry permit, etc.

He never drew his weapon, nor seemed to be anxious and it all ended well with a warning that one of my tail lights was out.

Today, I'd guess the law enforcement folks are a bit more edgy. In the last Conceal and Carry class I took the law enforcement instructors now advise that if your concealed weapon is not visible and won't be seen by handing the officer your license, proof of insurance and registration, you should not tell the officer you have a concealed weapon! The reason being that many of today's officers, particualry those with limited experience, may make a fatal mistake that's not in your favor!

Be careful out there!

John Mills

 



Date: 07/04/22 13:14
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: wabash2800

I've normally don't have any problems with "civilian" cops when pulled over as always do whatever they tell me and don't talk back. In the situation I referred to the cop was a one of a pair of very young rookie cops (cadets?) . In fact, they actually argued with each other in front of me.

Victor B.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/06/22 14:55 by wabash2800.



Date: 07/14/22 12:10
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: DJ-12

The unfortunate reality of the US today is that the cops have to assume that every single encounter they have that the person that they are interacting with is armed and might want to do them harm. That immediately puts them on edge and places the 99% of citized who mean them no harm whatsoever at risk unnecessarily. I get why they are worried and I don't blame them, but what a sad state of affairs when an officer responding to a call ostensibly to help someone ends up in a situation that could have ended up in a tragedy.. Frankly, whenever I'm out in the boonies nowadays, its a lot harder to truly relax if someone comes rolling up towards you even if you are just parked somewhere minding your own business wating for a train.



Date: 07/15/22 14:09
Re: I've never had a gun pointed at me before...
Author: wabash2800

We did have a member here at Trainorders that was robbed and murdered while out railfanning. I recall folks here asking about him and law enforcement looking for him. Two guys were filmed at a store using his credit card. IIRC, it was in Indiana. Perhaps someone here has a better memory about it or knew him.

Victor B.

DJ-12 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The unfortunate reality of the US today is that
> the cops have to assume that every single
> encounter they have that the person that they are
> interacting with is armed and might want to do
> them harm. That immediately puts them on edge and
> places the 99% of citized who mean them no harm
> whatsoever at risk unnecessarily. I get why they
> are worried and I don't blame them, but what a sad
> state of affairs when an officer responding to a
> call ostensibly to help someone ends up in a
> situation that could have ended up in a tragedy..
> Frankly, whenever I'm out in the boonies nowadays,
> its a lot harder to truly relax if someone comes
> rolling up towards you even if you are just parked
> somewhere minding your own business wating for a
> train.



Pages:  [ 1 ][ 2 ] [ Next ]
Current Page:1 of 2


[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.111 seconds