The attempted mass killing of Congressional Republicans by a crazed Bernie Sanders supporter happened almost three months ago, and this week the local district attorney's office released a report on the use of force by local Alexandria police and two U.S. Capitol Police officers.
Read it here: Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney City of Alexandria Use of Force Investigation and Analysis
The report is heavy on guns-and-ammo details, of course. A few things that stood out for me:
During the gun battle, the suspect fired a total of at least 70 rounds: 62 7.62x39mm rounds fired through the assault rifle and 8 9mm rounds fired through the semi-automatic handgun.
Because the suspect fired 62 rifle rounds out of 80 rounds that he carried in two box magazines [the SKS carbine the shooter used had been modified to accept removable box magazines], he must have done a magazine change at some point during the incident. Therefore he had some degree of calm and deliberateness. There is every reason to suppose that he would have killed most of the Congressmen and staffers there if a Capitol Police protective detail had not been present.
In aggregate, the agents and police officers fired a total of at least 40 rounds.
Of those 40, they struck the suspect with only three rounds. Not so surprising, really, considering the ranges involved. The two Capitol Police officers were siting in an SUV parked just outside the ball field when the shooting began. One of them stayed there throughout the incident, using the car for cover. The second officer ran from the SUV to the ball field, and back to the SUV to retrieve more ammunition for his pistol. The officers had only pistols, and they were trading shots with a gunman armed with a rifle.
The distance from the black SUV to the suspect’s location behind the storage shed was approximately 30 yards, or about 100 feet.
Most people, including most police officers, are not terribly accurate with pistols beyond 50 feet or so. Most law enforcement pistol training is concentrated on much shorter distances. Consider that the FBI's pistol qualification course for agents is shot mostly at ranges of 15 yards or less, with the longest stage being only 10 shots fired at targets 25 yards away. The shooter in Alexandria never came as close as 25 yards to any of the officers involved.
Here's the key moment in the incident, when Special Agent David Bailey, one of the two Capitol Police officers, ran onto the ball field and interrupted the shooter.
SA Bailey saw Rep. Scalise fall to the ground after being struck by a bullet and he ran onto the field to go to the Congressman’s aid; however, he began taking gun fire as he entered the field, hearing bullets go past his head. He saw the suspect firing from his position near the third-base dugout.
SA Bailey, standing near the first-base dugout, returned fire with his Glock pistol. Later, the investigation would reveal that SA Bailey fired a total 10 rounds from that position toward the suspect. These rounds likely caused the suspect to lose focus and become less accurate as he fired. They also caused the suspect to change position in an attempt to engage the agents and therefore drew his attention from the players on the field.
The Capitol Police officers prevented a massacre by keeping the gunman engaged until the Alexandria Police arrived, which was about three minutes after they received the first call. What finally stopped the shooter was an Alexandria officer with a rifle, an AR-pattern patrol rifle that was carried in the trunk of his cruiser.
ERT [forensic services] recovered three spent .223 cartridge cases in close proximity to where [Officer] Jensen stopped his cruiser during the incident. The spent cartridge cases were approximately 65 yards from where the suspect was located when he was shot, meaning that the suspect was approximately 200 feet from Jensen when Jensen fired.
Officer Jensen did it right. The report relates how he saw the gunman moving toward the Capitol Police officers, took careful aim at him and fired one shot before ducking down behind the cover of his cruiser, then shifted his position before he popped up and took aim again. In that way, he struck the gunman with two of three rounds, stopping him.