December 7th is a historical date. Delaware became the first to ratify the US constitution, 1787. Jesse James’ gang robs a bank in Gallatin, Missouri and kills an innocent citizen, 1868. Thomas Edison demonstrates his phonograph to the editors of “Scientific American”, 1877. The USA’s “Rainbow” Division arrives in France (with Colonel Douglas MacArthur among it ranks), 1917. 19 year old Ted Williams signed with the Red Sox, 1937. Lou Gehrig is elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame, 1939. Imperial Japanese Navy with 353 planes attacks US fleet at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii killing 2,403, “A Day Which Will Live in Infamy”, 1942. Otis Redding records “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”, 1967. Philippine’s first Lady Imelda Marcos is stabbed & wounded by an assailant, 1972. Wings release “Band on the Run”, 1973.
On December 7, 1983, I was in my eighth year of police service in Shreveport, Louisiana. I loved being a detective but had burned out. I worked numerous murders, rapes, robberies, kidnappings and various other violent crimes. They took their toll. I needed a break and asked to be transferred back to patrol services. Since I had proven myself as a decent detective and street cop, I was permitted to float around, so to speak. The patrol commander was happy to have me back under his command. The Chief of Investigations told me to come back to his division when I was ready.
Without hesitation, I selected evening shift and worked from 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM. I had seniority now and asked for the Cedar Grove beat and got it. Riding the streets and alleys where I spent most of my youth was like coming home. I knew many of the business owners, preachers, teachers and residents there. I often parked my unit in the rear parking lot behind the Corner Drug Store on E. 70th to write my reports. I parked in the exact spot each time. I wanted quick access to the alley running east and west and access to Southern Avenue in case I needed to head north or south on my next call.
The area where I parked always caused me to grin. Many years earlier when I was around 12, I noticed the construction crew pouring a new concrete parking lot behind the store had knocked off for the day. I was riding my green spider bike with a long banana seat, chrome sissy-bar and monkey handlebars to get one more cherry coke at the fountain. Being a little heathen at the time and wanting to leave my mark on life, I looked around for cops and saw none. I rode my bike around the sawhorse barricade across the new section. My wheels sank in the mix about an inch leaving my trail for eternity. Every time I saw my marks, it took me back to that late afternoon. Just last week, I took a friend to Cedar Grove to show her where I was raised. Part of the tour included the marks I had made when I was a little criminal. I think my criminal background actually made me a better cop because I am able to understand and relate to criminals. I speak the language.
I had special plans that day riding the Grove. My grandmother, Ruby Ford Fisher, was having her 90th birthday party at her home on W. 80th. She had lived in that house since 1947 and had lived in the Grove off and on since 1920. Our roots run deep in this little blue collar neighborhood. We called her Big Mama. Not because she was big, which she was not, but because she had a big heart and was the matriarch in our dysfunctional family unit. My entire family was planning to attend her event. My brother, sister, aunts, cousins and friends would be in attendance. Big Mama loved people and loved being the center of attention. I guess the fruit did not fall far from her tree when it comes to me.
That December was typical for Louisiana weather. Nights were very cool and middays were in the 50’s. I was wearing my cheap, insulated knit underwear under my uniform shirt and trousers. The sky was gray and overcast. I cleared a minor fender bender accident in front of Atkins Elementary School and headed to the Corner Drug to write my report. After I completed the report, I sat in my parked unit and began to daydream, a habit I have always had. I played back when I had dressed earlier that day in my fancy police uniform preparing for duty on the streets. I married up in my life. I fell in love the moment I first saw her. I knew I would marry her, though she was clueless. Robbin was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi and ended up in Shreveport. She was dating a friend of mine and it was clear the relationship was not going to last long. I planned to be there when it came crashing down. A month later, I was there the night they broke up. When I walked up to her, she was crying as she reached for her car door. We were outside a small cafe-bar her boyfriend owned in south Shreveport. She had worked all day at her full time job as a secretary at a trucking firm and was once again working for free as a waitress in the little bar. She was exhausted that evening when she and her boyfriend got into their last argument. She walked out on him and I knew it was my chance to steal her. I touched her arm and asked her to have a drink with me and talk about it. She hugged me and my heart sank. She followed my 4 x 4 pickup to a nice little bar called Precinct 21 down the street.
We found a table in the back rear corner and spent the next several hours nursing cold beers and talking. She told me about the bad relationship she just exited. I am not known for my listening skills but I patiently absorbed her every word. When she finished, I ordered dinner and changed the subject. I told her I had fallen in love with her the first time I saw her and shared my plan. I watched her face for her reaction. A small smile appeared and, to my surprise, she had known all along. How, I asked? She felt it. It was meant to be. I shared my childhood of being raised in foster homes and about Paxton Mosley, my very first best friend and grandson of Robert and Betsy Mosley, our foster parents. The day we moved to their Hall Summit farmhouse, I spotted a cow pond in a pasture down from the house. After I unpacked my cardboard box of clothes, I sneaked out and went to the pond. As I slipped between the barbed wire fence, I noticed a little boy standing by the pond tossing hard cow patties into the water. That was the day I met Paxton. I taught him how to throw smooth stones on the surface of the pond to make them skip. In no time, he was as good as me. I was 10 years old and decided when I grew up and had a son, his name would be Paxton.
I told Robbin we would marry and have a son named Paxton. I studied her face while holding my breath. Again she smiled and said yes. I know you think I am a redneck fool. I should have gotten down on my knee and asked her to marry me like a gentleman. By now you know, in those days, how do I put it, I was “rough around the edges.” Robbin had her work cut out from that moment forward. Within weeks, we bought a small farm house in Keithville, a tiny little settlement a few miles south of Shreveport. The day we closed on the house, I got on my knees in the front yard of that home and asked her to marry me. I am proud to say, I did carry her through the front door in a traditional way.
One year later, the only son I would have in this life, was born. Paxton is Irish without a doubt. He arrived with a full head of copper colored hair. I named him James Paxton, some 20 years after I promised myself my son would be named Paxton.
As I sat in my unit listening to the police radio, I thought of them and how I picked up my three year old Paxton and kissed him several times saying goodbye. It broke my heart when he begged me not to go to work that day. I kissed Robbin and we parted with the same words every time I headed for the streets as a cop. Please be safe and come back home to her and our son. I answered, “I will and I love you.”
My dream ended as the police radio alert tone sounded. Headquarters announced to all officers a shooting was in progress in the 600 block of Texas Avenue in downtown Shreveport. It was 4:10 in the afternoon as I heard officers announce they were responding. Several units arrived on the scene and radioed other officers one man was shot at a city bus stop and the suspect fled the scene on foot. He was a black man in his 50’s, wearing a grey dress suit, dark dress hat and considered armed with a handgun and dangerous. Since the incident occurred many miles from my beat, I relaxed and drove off. Even though the call was a long distance away, I decided to set up at the northern edge of my beat. If officers encountered the suspect and got in a shootout, I would respond regardless of my assigned beat and distance.
I parked my unit at a vacant gas station at the corner of Linwood and Hollywood and listened to the officers talk about their ongoing search for the suspect. Fire rescue units responded to the scene to aid the shooting victim. An officer announced the suspect was last seen running several blocks away and was observed getting on another bus. A few minutes later, the same officer advised the witness stated the suspect and victim had been waiting for a city bus bound for Cedar Grove. They got in an argument that lead to the shooting. The suspect was a known sidewalk preacher who carried a Bible and was often seen preaching to people in front of the state courthouse. They called him “Preacher” and he lived in Cedar Grove. The officers requested every officer in the city start intercepting buses heading to south Shreveport, especially Cedar Grove. I knew there were bus routes on Linwood and Line Avenue. I was already on Linwood so I decided to intercept any bus heading south to my beat.
I hit the street heading north looking for the next bus. I spotted it when I reached Kings Highway two miles north of Hollywood. The first bus I encountered was stopped at the corner taking on a large group of passengers who appeared to work at the nearby L.S.U.M.C. hospital. The passengers had finished their shifts at the hospital and were heading south to their homes. I turned around and waited for the bus to pass me. When it did, I fell in behind it. On the back of the bus were the numbers 224. This was a newer bus with the rear window blocked by a large, black shield that prevented me from seeing in the passengers’ compartment. We crossed Claiborne and went through the green traffic light at Midway continuing south. From time to time, the bus would pull to a stop and let off passengers. I kept a safe distance and watched the passengers closely for the man in the dark suit and dress hat. One block south of Midway, the bus stopped again and more passengers disembarked. The suspect, if he was on this bus, remained on board. I decided to pull along the left side of the bus as it rolled away again. I had a hard time seeing in the dark tinted windows. The roof of my unit blocked part of my vision. I eased over a little into the oncoming lane of traffic to gain a little distance so I could see through my right front passenger window. The opposing lane was clear and I made my move. In the rear of the bus, I spotted the head of a man wearing a dark dress hat. He looked directly at me as I faded back and once again fell in behind the bus. When we passed through the intersection of Corbitt, I called for backup. I advised officers I saw a man with a hat on bus 224 sitting in the very back not getting off the bus. We had several sergeants and lieutenants on the streets at this time. My sergeant was drinking coffee with a female officer in Southern Hills several miles south of me. I announced my intentions to pull the bus over. He continued talking to the officer while listening to me. He did not come on the air for support or advise so I assumed he approved of the actions I was taking.
Two officers I trained as rookies announced they were heading my way as backup. Johnny Coffee and Malcolm Butler coordinated with me. We quickly agreed to stop the bus at the next bus stop one block north of the busy intersection of Linwood and Hollywood. The bus stopped and more people exited. I flipped on my overhead emergency lights. I positioned my unit to the rear and left of the bus so the driver could see me signaling him to remain stationary. I could see the middle age, white male driver clearly in the large, side view mirror. He looked directly at me and and took off before I was able to get out of my unit. Coffee and Butler rolled up from the south in opposing traffic. Their emergency lights were flashing but the bus proceeded. We passed two back up units and they spun around making u-turns and fell in behind me. I sped up and went past the bus. I cut in front of him and forced him to a stop 20 feet short of the major intersection. I was upset now because if we ended up in a shootout, many more people would be endangered. Still no ranking supervisor came on the air and gave directions or rolled as backup on my call. The radio was silent as I got out of my unit and walked to the front door of the bus. I saw two or three passengers exit and the damn driver closed the big, automatic door. I thought, what in the hell is wrong with this driver? He saw me trying to pull him over. He forced me to pull in front of him and now my approach was more challenging. He kept his eyes locked on me as I walked to the door, then he closed it. I wondered if he had been hijacked. Was the armed man holding a gun on him? I looked in the vicinity of the driver for the armed man and saw no one. I stood outside the front door and looked to my left, down the side of the bus to the rear. Coffee and Butler had taken a position outside the rear doors. I nodded my head at them indicating we would all enter the bus at the same time. I know the driver saw my partners standing at the rear exit. I thought he had enough sense to flip both sets of doors open. I waved for the driver to open the doors and focused on my approach. I knew Coffee and Butler would cover the back where the suspect was seated. The hardheaded driver flipped the switch and my door opened. I took the two steps and soon stood beside him looking to the rear of the bus. I was so focused on my suspect, I did not realize the driver had not opened the rear door allowing my backup access to the bus. I had tunnel vision and my Adrenalin began to flow. I looked to the far end of the bus and saw not one old guy in a suit with a dress hat, but two. They sat directly across from one another one seat behind the rear doors. I did not take time to count the remaining passengers but I knew the bus was at least half loaded. Later I would learn there were 22 passengers plus the driver on board. Back then we carried departmental issued 357 caliber model 66’s. They were made by Smith & Wesson and were powerful handguns. I was an expert shot on the target range and not afraid to use my weapon. I had a new holster designed to prevent suspects from pulling my gun from it and using it against me. It was tight and difficult for me to draw my firearm. I unsnapped the special lever and pulled all but the tip of my gun from the new holster. I did not want to draw my gun all the way out and aim it at the two men in the rear. That decision almost cost me my life. I was more concerned with the reaction of the civilian passengers if they saw me raise my weapon than my own personal safety. I will always regret this.
No one spoke as I took very slow steps toward the two men. The crowd of passengers hunkered down in their seats but stayed put. The police radio was silent as I scanned back and forth between the two possible suspects. The one to my left caught my attention more than the other. He started sliding down deeper in his seat. His eyes were wide with fear as he stared back at me. I continued along the aisle and felt my heart pounding. I knew this was about to get bad. I took in a slow breath knowing I needed to calm myself. If I was going to fire my gun, I wanted to hit exactly where I aimed. The last thing on earth I wanted to do was hit an innocent passenger. Thankfully, no one was seated behind the two men. As I reached the midway point in the bus, the man I was focused on suddenly looked to his left across the aisle to suspect #2. This suspect raised a large, blue steel handgun over the top of the seatback in front of him and yelled, “You ain’t taking me to jail you son of a bitch!” As he spoke, he fired on me.
Everything went into slow motion. His words were deep and very slow. The barrel of his gun looked like a cannon when he pulled the trigger. I saw a flash of fire blast from the tip of the barrel. There was a large cloud of white smoke that enveloped the gun. I saw the gun recoil and rise in his hand as the bullet exited the barrel in my direction. It seemed like an eternity before the round struck me. If you can imagine being struck by a strong man wielding a baseball bat, you understand the feeling. The round stuck me on the inside of my upper left leg. My body had been slightly turned side stepping down the aisle. I was taking short steps forward with my right foot and bringing my left behind me. I was grateful it was a cold day and I was wearing hokie insulated underwear and jockey shorts instead of boxers. My manhood was cinched up tight beneath me and it kept me from losing my ability to father another child. I fired as I fell to the floor. The hardheaded driver quickly flipped the front door switch unlocking the rear doors. He jumped from the bus like it was on fire.
Coffee and Butler pulled the rear doors open and fired several shots at the armed man. Soon he too was on the floor in a large pool of blood. In seconds, all the passengers stood and rushed to the front door. Ten or so passengers trampled me making their escape to safety as I lay in the aisle. They fled in total panic.
One night on liberty as a Marine at Camp Lejeune, N.C, I went out on the town. I drank too much and was standing on a downtown street corner waiting for a cab. I had $60 on me because I had just been paid for two weeks’ service. It was late at night as I waited for a cab to drive by. I saw a group of young, black marines walking my way. I thought they too would want a ride back to the base and perhaps split the cab fare. I learned a good lesson that night. They did not want to share my cab. They wanted to beat the living hell out of this redneck and take all my money. Six of them ganged up on me from every angle. They beat me severely. As they knocked me to the ground and began to stomp me with their boots, they called me a white M.F. and laughed until I could not move. My teeth were chipped, my ribs cracked and my nose was crushed to the degree I would never be able to breath from my right nostril again without surgery.
They took all my money and my cheap Timex watch. They laughed as they walked away. I coughed up thick blood flowing down the back of my throat. I promised myself one day I would pay them back somehow, somewhere. The seeds of hatred were planted that night that would one day grow and become a cancer within me. I realized I would never see them again nor would I ever have a chance to pay them back for what they did. As the years went by, the hate in my heart grew. As a cop, I learned many black people in the ghetto hated me for the color of my skin, my gender and the uniform I wore. I had three strikes against me on every call I made in the black neighborhoods. When I made calls with black officers and female officers, I saw first hand how black folks preferred to talk to the black and female officers rather than me. I experienced this hate often and the seeds that grew deep within me flourished. I carried a tremendous amount of hate in my heart until that moment on the stinking bus.
Once the shooting was over and I lay on the nasty floor, only then did I allow myself to feel the pain from the gunshot. Funny how our minds work. The Adrenalin flow prevented me from immediately feeling the pain. Once the danger was gone, something inside my little brain triggered and I felt it. Boy did I feel it! It was like someone taking a sharp pointed, steel rod heated in a white hot furnace. It was like they shoved it deep in my body and I felt every inch as it went, burning painfully. Another funny thing we do when we hurt ourselves, we quickly place our hand over our wounds. I did and felt my hot blood pumping from my wound. It squirted between my fingers. I had recently attended a first aid refresher class at the police academy and studied arterial bleeding. I knew I had a major artery running deep inside my left leg near the bone. I knew the bullet struck my femur and running next to it was that big artery. I knew if it were severed, a person had only about three minutes to live. I knew I was close to dying or as close as a man can get. I thought of Robbin and Paxton. I thought of my kiss goodbye a few hours earlier. I did not want it to be my last kiss goodbye. I wanted to live and be with my wife and son.
After I thought of my family, I thought of God. I dedicated my life to Jesus when I was 10. I called out to him at the top of my voice. I said, “God, please help me. Don’t take me now, God!” I never felt so alone in my life but God was there. He never left my side. Instantly a tender angel’s voice spoke to me. She said, “I’m here. I will stay with you.” I turned my head to the right side of the bus and next to me sat the angel God placed at my side that day. She was a beautiful black lady. I think God has a sense of humor because he knows our hearts. The last person I wanted to be with was another black person. A black man had just tried his best to end my life. God knew better and had a plan for me. He sent me an angel to minister and comfort me in my greatest time of need. She pulled a heavy scarf from around her neck and wrapped it around my upper leg to slow my bleeding. She knelt next to me and placed her hand underneath my head to raise it from the filthy floor of that bus. She spoke softly and showed God’s love with her eyes.
The police radio blasted the airwaves as Coffee shouted officer down, officer down. I can not find the words to describe how I felt when I heard him refer to me that way. I was down and did not know how much longer I would be in this world. A sense of peace came over me and any fear of dying left. Soon my brothers, we call firemen, swarmed to my side and took great care of me. They placed shock pants on my leg to slow the blood flow. They started an I. V. and hand carried me to a stretcher. I looked up at a man I greatly loved and admired. Dallas Green was the Shreveport Fire Chief and was holding my hand. He asked what hospital I wanted. I said the best Chief, L.S.U.M.C. He said, “Pat, the guy you shot is still alive and we are taking him there. Are you sure that’s where you want to go?”
No sir! Take me to Schumpert, Chief! I don’t want to be anywhere near that bastard! I was rushed into surgery and attended to by Dr.Wallace Brown, a renowned vascular surgeon. I received an epidural in the operating room and spoke to Dr. Brown a few minutes before he started. He asked how it happened and I told him. He saw I was wearing cheap knit underwear and said they probably slowed the bullet as it entered my leg. During the operation, I felt pressure on my leg but the pain was minimal. As he worked, he told me what he was doing. The slug struck the femur and ran upwards several inches, stopping just below my left hip joint. The slug was buried deep within my hip region. For him to cut down and extract it would do more damage to my muscles than leaving it. I could hear him cutting and snipping away my burned tissue at the entrance point. Some of the fibers of the knit clothing was carried into the wound. He was cutting them out to not cause an infection.
Dr. Brown gave me a sedative because I fell asleep in the operating room. When I awoke, I was freezing. I was in the recovery room on a gurney covered with only a thin cotton sheet. My teeth were chattering and I was trembling. Two young nurses were standing beside my bed and asked how I felt. Cold, very cold I chattered.
A moment later, she covered my body with a thick preheated blanket. Never in my life have I felt so warm and fuzzy. In seconds, the heat embraced me and I was able to draw a full breath and ask if my wife and son were there. They were in my room downstairs waiting. I would be sent down in an hour or so. As I lay in recovery, I began to daydream once again. I thought of where I was. I ended up in the same hospital where I was born 30 some odd years earlier. It was the same hospital Robbin gave birth to Paxton. Now here I was again under different circumstances. I closed my eyes and thanked God for saving me. I knew in my heart the cancer of hate I harbored for so long had been removed. I would never again allow it back in.
In my room with my family, I told them how it happened. My brother Bubba had driven through Linwood and Hollywood moments after I was shot. He saw 20 or so police units parked all around the big, city bus. He knew I was working that day and riding Cedar Grove again. Something told him I was hurt. He pulled over and called Robbin. She called Stewart Barnes at the police patrol desk to ask if I had been hurt. Stewart was a friend and knew I was seriously wounded. He is a good guy and did not want to lie to her. He told her to hold a minute and called Gary Alderman on the talkie. He knew Gary had been sent to my house to pick up Robbin and Paxton. Gary was pulling in my driveway. He told her I was hurt and in the hospital. I was going to make it. Get in the car with Gary who would take her to the hospital.
When Bubba called, she felt it deep down that I had been hurt. When the phone rang, before she picked up, she knew in her heart it was bad. She shed tears of joy as she stood beside me.
I have several friends who work in news media and I care for them greatly. There are aspects of the news organizations I do not care for. When my story broke, a couple of our local TV stations swooped in and began to spin my ordeal. They broke in on regular programming to alert our community an officer had been shot but was expected to live. He had stormed on a fully loaded bus to confront an armed man without regard for numerous citizens onboard. They were painting me as a trigger happy cowboy. The chief came in my room and checked on me. He wanted to know how it went down. I gave him a detailed statement. The media was out of control and he asked if I was up to holding a news conference to tell my story. Nurses rolled me and my fancy bed to the elevator. I was wheeled to the main lobby of the hospital. Every news organization in town was there snapping pictures and filming me. I had a Catheter attached to my bladder. The ugly, plastic bag swung from the edge of my bed half filled with yellow liquid. I was embarrassed as I watched them gawk at me and my little bag.
I told my story. Thankfully, they were mostly polite and did not hammer me with loaded and slanted questions. My statement defused the direction they were heading and I went back to my room. I was exhausted and fell asleep. At 6:00 A.M. the following morning, Dallas Green and the Mayor of Shreveport walked in my room to visit. They were followed by 300 other officers, friends and family. It was late in the evening when the last 10 visitors left my room. One guy remained. I did not know his name but his face looked familiar. He asked if I knew who he was. He said, “I’m Paxton Mosley. Pat, do you remember me now?” I said, “Sure I do Paxton. I named my son after you.” It had been 23 years since we last talked. He knew I was a cop because I was always on the news. He had intended to track me down for a visit but never had a chance until he learned I was shot and in the hospital. We talked about the years we spent together at the Mosley farm. A few years later, he called that his grandfather Robert Mosley had passed away. Paxton asked me to the funeral and to sit with his family. I met his baby boy. He named him after me in return. His name is James Paxton Mosley. I think it is cool we grew up and named our boys after each other.
Preacher’s real name was Clyde Allen. He had been to prison for shooting a security guard, did a few years and was released. He had no skills so picked up a Bible and walked the streets of downtown yelling at everyone he met they were going to burn in hell if they did not change their evil ways. In case you did not realize, he was crazy, plain and simple. The day of my shooting, he and another street guy got in an argument while waiting for a bus. The other guy had a knife and Clyde, not only armed with the Word of God, packed a 38. He shot the guy in what was later determined self defense. He could have waited for cops to show up and give his statement but being crazy, he fled and shot me. He was convicted to life for attempted 1st degree murder and spent many years in Angola. When 20 years was served, I attended his parole hearing. I testified and then he did. He told the board he shot me in self defense because I had my hand on my pistol and he feared for his life, so he shot first. He was shot directly in the center of his chest. The round missed his heart, if he had one, missed his lungs, went through his chest and out of his back missing his spine. The other shot was fired by Johnny Coffey. It entered his right armpit and crossed in front of his heart and other vital organs. It exited his left upper ribs and lodged in his left upper arm. Clyde is dead now and I have no hate in my heart for him. I admit I struggled as a Christian in my walk to forgive him but I finally did. May he rest in peace because he was not sound.
When I was in the Marines from ’69-’73, I put in for Nam every six months. I was turned down because my brother Bubba was serving in Wes-Pac, Western Pacific. I never saw combat. I saw plenty on the streets of Shreveport. I was given my purple heart four years after I was wounded in the line of duty, after our department recognized purple hearts. There are many men and women who served with S.P.D. that were shot, stabbed or injured in the line of duty and are recipients of the same medal. I want to extend a sincere salute to each of you and to honor those who are in heaven who paid the ultimate price to our city, state and nation. I swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution as a Marine and as a Police Officer and I did. My purple heart means as much to me as a cop as if I had been shot while serving in war.
If you have been following my stories, you likely wonder why I often mention Linwood and Hollywood as my favorite intersection. You will recall late one night I was sitting at this same vacant gas station when I responded to arrest three professional burglars from Chicago. I once was flagged down at the same intersection by a man whose wife was in the back seat having a baby. I delivered that little boy and that Daddy named his son after me. Then December 7, 1983 rolled around and once again I ended up at this intersection and was shot. For many years after my shooting, I avoided my favorite intersection. So many years have passed and I am much older now. I do on occasion travel through it again. Do you have a favorite intersection? I do and now you know where and why. I was blessed to live and attend the following birthday celebration for Big Mamma.