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A peaceful apartment complex turns violent when an angry tenant named Mitch takes out his frustrations on the on-site manager. Det. Dave recounts the fateful summer day when Mitch does the unthinkable.

Guest: Detective Dave

Dave began his career in law enforcement in 2007. Before his recent promotion to Sergeant, he spent six years as a detective primarily investigating Sex Crimes and Child Abuse for his police department in Small Town, USA. He still serves as a Crisis and Hostage Negotiator, and during his tenure as a detective, he served on the advisory boards of multiple children’s and victims’ advocacy groups. Despite Dave’s well-deserved promotion, the Small Town Dicks Team will continue to call him “Detective Dave” on the podcast because … well… we like to give him a hard time. And because “Detective Dave” is basically his stage name now so we’re sticking with it.

Read Transcript

Dan: [00:00:03] I wish we had a crystal ball and we could see and be able to tell when something like this was going to happen, so we could intervene. I’m sure the officers who went out reflected on that. And like, “I tried, I just didn’t have enough.”

Yeardley [00:00:18] When a serious crime is committed in a small town, a handful of detectives are charged with solving the case. I’m Yeardley, and I’m fascinated by these stories. I invited my friends, Detectives Dan and Dave, to help me gather the best true crime cases from around the country and have the men and women who investigated them, tell us how it happened.

Dan [00:00:44] I’m Dan.

Dave [00:00:45] I’m Dave. We’re identical twins from Small Town, USA.

Dan [00:00:48] Dave investigated sex crimes and crimes against children. He’s now a patrol sergeant at his police department.

Dave [00:00:55] Dan investigated violent crimes. He’s now retired. Together, we have more than two decades experience and have worked hundreds of cases. We’ve altered names, places, relationships, and certain details in these cases to maintain the privacy of the victims and their families.

Dan [00:01:10] We ask you to join us in protecting their true identities, as well as the locations of these crimes out of respect for everyone involved. Thank you.

Yeardley: [00:01:25] Today on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dan.

Dan: [00:01:31] Good morning.

Yeardley: [00:01:31] Good morning. So nice to see you.

Dan: [00:01:34] Likewise.

Yeardley: [00:01:35] [giggles] And we have Detective Dave.

Dave: [00:01:37] Present.

Yeardley: [00:01:38] Present, he’s present. That’s all we have today. I’m very excited.

Dave: [00:01:43] We got the band back together.

Yeardley: [00:01:44] I love it when the band is all together. Dave, this is one of your cases.

Dave: [00:01:51] Yes, it is.

Yeardley: [00:01:52] Tell us how this case came to you.

Dave: [00:01:53] This was one of those where it occurred on a weekend. It was the Fourth of July weekend, several years ago. In this case, I was actually out on the boat that Dan and I shared, I was out on the lake. I started getting text messages from friends asking what’s going on in my city. I’m off relaxing on the boat, have no idea what’s going on. So, I check social media, because typically, that’s the fastest way to get information nowadays, and I see a bunch of posts about something happening in our city. I called dispatch knowing that if it was big, we were probably going to get called in the detectives. I called and was told that something did happen, and that my presence was requested at the station as soon as possible.

Yeardley: [00:02:41] Had they been trying to reach you and simply hadn’t been able to because you were on the lake?

Dave: [00:02:46] I don’t think so. I didn’t have any missed calls or anything like that, but this is also a place where I would sometimes be out of service depending on where you’re at in the lake. So, I tell my guests, “Hey, bad news. I know we just got out here a couple hours ago, but I’ve got to go to work.” They throw bottles at you.

Dan: [00:03:04] (laughs)

Yeardley: [00:03:04] You don’t just leave overboard, swim to shore, and then get in the car?

Dave: [00:03:07] They’re like, “Hey, so the shore is over there, start swimming. Leave your keys.” We packed everything up, everyone’s fairly understanding about that and know how the gig goes. I drive home, put the boat away, then I have to get ready, and I go into work. I’m on the phone a couple of times, and I’m told that this incident is in the east part of our city. It’s an apartment complex. It’s on the main drag, but it’s one of those apartment complexes that I’ve probably only been to twice for calls. It’s fairly quiet. A lot of families, young professionals, it’s not one of our properties that we get sent to a lot, so we don’t have a lot of problems there.

[00:03:49] A little bit of background about this apartment complex. One of the reasons why we rarely go to this complex is because the property management company and the onsite manager are so on top of things. The onsite managers name is Dean. Dean is probably in his late 30s, early 40s. He’s got a fiancée and he’s got a child. Dean does a good job of handling issues before it ever escalates to where the police need to get called. Over the months and weeks prior to this incident, Dean’s getting a lot of complaints about a certain resident in this complex. At the same time as this is all going on, the property management company is renovating, so there’s times where they’re serving notices to residents saying, “Hey, your apartment is next on the list to get renovated. If we have an apartment available inside the complex that suits you, you’re welcome to move there when that one’s been remodeled. Or, we can try to find one of our other properties where you can go live at.”

Yeardley: [00:04:52] That’s pretty decent. And if you move to that apartment that’s already been renovated, is that a permanent move or is that, “Just for now until we finished renovating the one year already in now”?

Dave: [00:05:02] I think it’s up to the tenants’ choice, like how many people like moving. I wouldn’t want to move a month later they get the renovation done, and now I got to move everything back. I think it was left up to the tenants on what their preference was. In this case, Dean is often going around to these residents, and sure it’s a pain for the residents to have to move. But they all know what’s coming. He doesn’t have issues except with one resident. His name is Mitch.

Yeardley: [00:05:33] Can I ask just how big this apartment complexes? Is it sort of like 10 units? Is it 50 units?

Dave: [00:05:39] I would say 50 to 75 units.

Yeardley: [00:05:42] Okay, so it’s pretty sizable.

Dave: [00:05:43] Yeah. It’s two-story apartments with a balcony, right where the front door is, it’s an open balcony where you can walk the length of the building. This apartment complex is kind of a J-shaped, like an upside-down J. Running along the east and going north, you have the long end of the J and then curves to the left or to the west, and then back down to the south.

Yeardley: [00:06:08] It’s sort of like a candy cane.

Dave: [00:06:10] Right. An inverted candy cane. Dean is the office manager. He’s the property manager and his apartment is over on the short end of the J. Mitch lives on the long side of the J. So, he’s on the east side of this. In between all of this is this paved parking lot with cars and everything you’d expect, dumpsters, that kind of thing. Mitch is the one resident in the place that is really, really upset about having to move.

Yeardley: [00:06:38] Has he lived there a long time?

Dave: [00:06:39] He’s lived there for years. I get it. That’s his place. But everyone’s having to do this. Mitch is just the one with the most pushback. Mitch starts getting really angry and hostile towards other residents. He’s hostile with Dean. Dean has a reputation among his residents as being really poised and calm and knows how to deescalate situations. He’s widely described as an ideal property manager. Rational, reasonable, and is able to kind of mediate any issues that are happening in the complex. He’s well respected. Mitch is having none of it. Mitch is getting into verbal confrontations with neighbors. He is acting strangely. He’s knocking on other people’s doors and asking them odd questions to the point where residents start to think that maybe he’s got some mental health issues.

Yeardley: [00:07:33] How old is Mitch?

Dave: [00:07:35] Mitch is in his early 70s. Mitch is increasingly agitated and hostile. It’s early July, it’s hot. There’s no air conditioning in these apartments. So, that could be one of the things, is that the hotter it gets, we see in police work, the more agitated and violent people get. The summers are usually pretty busy times for us.

Dan: [00:07:58] I had an old sergeant who would always say when it got hot, he’s like, “It’s not the heat. It’s the water. People drink more water. There’s something in the water.” That was his little joke about why people seem to go off the rails when it gets really hot.

Yeardley: [00:08:11] (laughs)

Dan: [00:08:12] It was a joke. It was a joke in our briefing, like, “Watch out, they’re drinking water out there. You guys need to be careful out there.”

Dave: [00:08:19] There’s something in the water, yeah.

Yeardley: [00:08:20] That’s funny.

Dave: [00:08:21] So, it’s probably early spring, and Mitch gets his notice, “You’re going to have to move, and here’s the move date.” And they give him a deadline. It’s about six weeks out. Early summer is when he’s scheduled to move to another apartment, and they’re offering him multiple places. He’s saying, “No way, I’m not doing it.” Finally, the actual property management company comes out with Dean, and they negotiate this deal where, “Hey, by this date, you’re going to be out, correct?” “Yeah, I’ll do it,” begrudgingly.

Yeardley: [00:08:56] Do the new apartments have air conditioning? That seems like that would be some incentive.

Dave: [00:09:00] No, in our area. That’s a luxury to have air conditioning. Dean’s feeling good like, “Okay,” we’ve got Mitch deescalated here, and he’s agreed to go with the program and they him this deadline date. That date comes and goes, and Mitch hasn’t moved a thing out of his apartment. Obviously, this is now holding up all the contractors and all the things that they’re trying to do to upgrade this apartment complex. The property management company starts to play a little bit more hardball, saying, “These are firm dates, you have to do this.” And that coincides with Mitch now having further issues with neighbors.

Yeardley: [00:09:40] Now, interestingly, he has started to take it out on his neighbors, not just on Dean and the property management company.

Dave: [00:09:48] Yeah, everybody is getting his attention now. He’s kind of a shut-in, doesn’t have visitors coming and going. Basically, stays in his apartment and that’s kind of his life.

Yeardley: [00:09:58] And he doesn’t have a partner or wife or a husband or anything like that?

Dave: [00:10:01] Right. He’s single, living by himself, two-bedroom apartment.


Dave: [00:10:17] As I said, Mitch is starting to have some more behavior issues. At some point, it gets to the point where Dean feels like he needs to call the police, and come out there and at least evaluate whether or not this guy’s a danger to himself or others. With that comes our crisis intervention counselors. It’s a service we have in our county. They go out, and Dean shares with the police and these counselors that a couple of weeks ago, Mitch had threatened to shoot him.

Yeardley: [00:10:51] Shoot Dean?

Dave: [00:10:52] Right. I think Dean was like, “Eh, go check on him. He’s having a rough day. He’s not always like this, but usually I can calm him down, but he’s pretty upset today. You guys need to go check on him. By the way, he’s threatened to shoot me in the past.” That happens.

Yeardley: [00:11:07] What do you mean?

Dave: [00:11:08] People threaten to kill each other all the time.

Dan: [00:11:10] Neighbor disputes and property disputes, people will just say that. I think a lot of people who are on the receiving end of that think, “He’s not serious. He’s just saying that. He’s mad.”

Yeardley: [00:11:23] I’ve never had a neighbor say to me, “I’m going to kill you.”

Dan: [00:11:26] We get those threats all the time.

Dave: [00:11:28] People say, “It’s just a figure a speech. I wasn’t serious.”

Dan: [00:11:33] A lot of times, we will get called to those situations, say, “Did you say this?” “Yeah, I wasn’t being serious about that. I just want him to leave me alone.”

Dave: [00:11:41] Right. Dean is relaying all this information to the police and the counselors. They do an eval on Mitch, talk to him. He says, “I’m fine. I’m not going to hurt myself. I’m not going to hurt anybody else.” We have a threshold to get to before we can act and take someone into custody on a mental hold, basically deprive you of your freedom based on your state of mind. So, imagine taking someone’s liberty away and delivering them to a hospital for eval. That’s a big deal.

Yeardley: [00:12:11] Does he meet that criteria?

Dave: [00:12:12] He doesn’t on this occasion, and Dean had expressed some frustration with that, because he knew that Mitch had guns, and even hanging up in Mitch’s apartment is a display of swords, knives, nun chucks, kind of adorning his walls in his living room. He’s got books about ninjas. He’s kind of into that. I don’t even know the right word for it, but he’s into that kind of genre. Mitch also has a nickname, it’s Two Blades Mitch. He’s got that embroidered on one of his hats that he wears. Even more, so I mean, okay, I’m in the baseball cards, but I don’t get some printed on my hat.

Yeardley: [00:12:50] But also baseball cards are not threatening.

Dave: [00:12:52] Right. Mitch never had issues with harming people with weapons. He’s in our local system. He’s got very few contacts. He is like a complainant on a noise violation. Doesn’t have an arrest record or anything like that. He’s kept his nose pretty clean. He’s just kind of that grouchy neighbor.

Dan: [00:13:11] Curmudgeon.

Dave: [00:13:12] Yeah. Mitch doesn’t get taken on a mental hold, and they don’t have enough to grab his weapons and take his guns away. So, that happens early summer. Dean expresses some concern with that. He’s frustrated that Mitch still has weapons available to them. Dean is thinking about this past threat about getting shot and killed.

Yeardley: [00:13:32] He really took that threat seriously, because previously, actually, I thought he said, “I don’t think he’s going to do it, but I need you to come and evaluate him.”

Dave: [00:13:40] So, the threat happens weeks before this first police intervention. We can’t really use that last– I mean it’s been weeks, if he said he’s going to shoot and kill you, he would have done it, then I can’t judge him on that statement, here we’re weeks later, and now we’re doing an eval on where he is emotionally today.

Dan: [00:14:00] Going back to that initial visit. It’s one thing if he says, “I’ll shoot you,” and he’s holding a gun. Even though he doesn’t point it at somebody, I think reasonable people would say that is a valid threat right there. If he says it, and he points to his wall where he has weapons and says, “I’m going to cut you,” and points at his swords while Dean is at Mitch’s front door, that’s pretty specific. But if he just says it in passing, and doesn’t display a weapon and just says, “You know what? One of these days I’m going to shoot you,” it’s alarming, and that would definitely warrant a police visit and crisis counselors to come out and talk to you. But like Dave said, it’s one thing to take someone’s liberty and for them to have the immediate means of carrying out that threat certainly elevates things. And if you don’t see that, and he gives you a plausible explanation like, “It was just a figure of speech. I want him to leave me alone. This is what I’m going through with this apartment complex. I’ve lived here for 15 years. I’ve never had to move and now they want to boot me out of here.” He can explain that he’s frustrated. I think reasonable people would understand that.

Dave: [00:15:05] After this checked by the police, couple of weeks go by, and they finally give Mitch his final notice. It’s, “You’re either being evicted, or you’re going to move to another apartment, but either way, you’re going to be out of that unit.” Mitch tells Dean, basically, “Okay, got it. Tell you what? What I’m going to do is I’m just going to go camping. While you guys renovate my apartment, I’ll just be out camping.” The deadline date is July 3rd, Fourth of July weekend. The days preceding July 3rd, Dean is waiting for moving vans to show up and see signs that he’s going to comply with this notice, nothing ever shows up. July 3rd, Dean is doing his managerial duties around the complex, and he has an interaction with one of their residents down in the parking lot. They’re chatting, and at some point, this female, she says that Dean’s attention is drawn from her up to Mitch’s apartment. Dean looks up at Mitch and Mitch is waving him like, “Come over here and come talk to me.” Dean kind of gives him that, “I’ll be there in a second.” These two on the parking lot, they split ways and Dean makes his way with paperwork up to Mitch’s apartment.

[00:16:22] Mitch’s apartment is right at the top of the stairs that go up to the balcony. He’s got the first unit right there. One of the neighbors had said that Mitch always kept his door closed, no matter what. Throughout the day, on this day, July 3rd, his door was cracked open a few inches. And she found that weird. She’s like, “What? Whatever. He’s having one of those days.” Dean goes up to the apartment. He climbs the stairs, and right as he emerges at the top of the stairs, he knocks on the door and Mitch opens the door and he’s holding a .357 Magnum and shoots Dean directly in the chest.

Yeardley: [00:17:00] (gasps)

Dave: [00:17:00] This is heard by several neighbors. One of them is a woman who’s taking her kid out of the car seat and then she’s going to go up to her apartment. She says she hears this gunshot and looks to the south to her right, and sees Dean running back down the stairs and he’s holding his chest. He’s screaming, “Call 911, call 911, he shot me.”

Yeardley: [00:17:22] Oh my God.

Dave: [00:17:24] This woman with her kid is alarmed. She’s scurrying to get up to her apartment to get to safety. And she looks over towards Mitch’s apartment, and she says that, Mitch, he stepped out onto the balcony now, and as Dean is running back towards his apartment across the parking lot, Mitch starts shooting at him through the parking lot. 30, 40 yards away, and he’s trying to get a bead on him. Now this woman is freaked. She’s watching Mitch do all this. She says that Mitch finally puts the gun down and looks directly at her and he’s got a smile from ear to ear grinning. She hurries up, gets in her apartment, locks the door and the 911 calls start popping up. Other residents see Dean’s condition, that he’s dripping blood as he’s running through the parking lot, and he gets to a place of cover over by his apartment and collapses.

Yeardley: [00:18:16] I was going to say I can’t believe he got as far as he did. It seems like at point blank range like that, he would just drop dead right there.

Dan: [00:18:23] We have a term that we use. He was dead, he just didn’t know it. That was a mortal wound. Unsurvivable. You don’t die immediately.

Yeardley: [00:18:31] Adrenaline?

Dan: [00:18:32] Adrenaline, and it’s basically going to pump you out of blood. You imagine what those last few moments of his life were in a panic, in the, “Oh my God.” I think at some point, you probably recognize that you’re dying. Horrible.

Dave: [00:18:46] Yeah. Dean is now over near his apartment and the office. He’s got residents rushing to his aid. 911 calls are coming in. Mitch just calmly backs into his apartment and sits down on his recliner and is waiting for the police response.


Dave: [00:19:16] Our officers get there. To get into this apartment complex with your police vehicle, you’ve got to drive by Mitch’s apartment. It’s this long panhandle driveway, and then the complex opens up. Our officers are thinking, “Okay, they’ve told us where the shooter is, and this is where I’ve got to go.” Our officers get out of their vehicles run over to where Dean is and try to administer aid. Now, we’ve got medics coming. We’ve got to make it safe for medics, knowing that we’ve got the shooter who’s still on the loose and he’s got elevation, like I said, a position of advantage, and he’s got a complete view of the whole complex. Anybody who comes in the driveway, he’s going to see him off to his left. Dean and the rest of the people are off to his right.

Yeardley: [00:20:07] He’s got the drop on you.

Dave: [00:20:08] Yeah, he’s got a great position of advantage over anybody. Our officers, it was a sergeant and one of our patrol officers, hurriedly run over to where Dean is and start trying to treat Dean’s injuries. In that discussion, they’re telling him, “Hey, stay with us,” that kind of talk, and “Who shot you?” And he says, “Mitch did.” One of the officers notes that he could see the color leaving Dean’s body, like he could see that he was dying right in front of them. They get a blanket from one of the neighbors, and they package Dean up and run him out to safety so they can get him in an ambulance. Ambulance comes, picks up Dean. Dean is whisked away to the hospital, and he’s later pronounced dead. It’s about 30 minutes after the shooting occurred.

[00:21:05] We’ve got this chaotic crime scene because nobody knows where Mitch truly is. They think he’s still in his apartment. They’re certain he’s armed. How do you approach this apartment safely? There’s no backdoor out of his apartment. There’s a couple of windows on the back side of his apartment that look out over kind of an abandoned overgrown field. The decision’s made to call a SWAT team. Our SWAT guys get out there, set up a perimeter try to make this complex as safe as possible, but they can’t evacuate people back to the main drag because they have to go–

Yeardley: [00:21:41] They’d have to go past Mitch’s apartment.

Dave: [00:21:43] Right. So, it’s not safe. It’s one of those shelter in place, get away from the windows and make yourself safe. Our SWAT team is out there for a couple of hours.

Yeardley: [00:21:53] And are they trying to negotiate with him?

Dave: [00:21:55] There’s multiple calls into Mitch’s last known number, they all go straight to voicemail. They are loud hailing from one of their police vehicles. “Mitch, this is police, you need to come out with your hands up. Don’t have anything in your hands,” that kind of thing over and over and over again. And no response, no movement out of the apartment, nothing. The decision’s made by Sergeant Dave, he is in charge of the SWAT team, and he decides somebody from the backside of the apartment, one of their SWAT guys is going to fire tear gas into this apartment to basically smoke him out. I don’t know if you’ve ever been pepper sprayed or been around tear gas.

Yeardley: [00:22:36] No, luckily.

Dave: [00:22:38] It is misery. It’s awful. Even hours after the fact if you walk into a room where someone’s sprayed pepper spray, you can still feel it. Your eyes get all watery.

Dan: [00:22:48] It makes you ugly cry.

Yeardley: [00:22:50] (laughs)

Dan: [00:22:51] It inflames everything. You’ve seen people where they’ve got like a string of snot hanging out of their nose. That’s what it does to you. It is miserable. Some people deal with it better. It’s horrible to me. I would rather get tased than pepper sprayed any day.

Yeardley: [00:23:07] And you guys, part of your training is you get to experience both of those things.

Dan: [00:23:11] And being tased sucks, and I’d rather be tased than pepper sprayed.

Dave: [00:23:15] Fortunately, getting pepper sprayed is like, “Do you want to do this?” “No.” They’re like, “Okay, you don’t have to do that.” But you have to take a taser right, so you can testify to, “I know this incapacitates people.” Somebody who can fight through that, God bless you, because you are superhuman.

Dan: [00:23:31] I’ve never understood that reasoning though, because I don’t shoot myself in the leg with my gun just so I can testify what it’s like be shot.

Yeardley: [00:23:38] Fair point.

Dave: [00:23:39] It’s kind of like a badge of courage, when you first get hired. “Have you ever been tased?” “Yeah, I had to take one of those.” Pepper spray, I want no part of.

Yeardley: [00:23:48] Are pepper spray and tear gas basically the same thing? But one is quick release and the other a slow release.

Dave: [00:23:54] Pepper spray is in liquid form, and tear gas is in a gas form. Tear gas canisters, you see them at these protests where they get fired into the crowd and they kind of just sit there and it’s kind of like a bug bomb, where you release the gases bug bomb in your house, and it just emits this horrible gas that makes you cry and sniffle. And then, pepper spray is just the liquid form, and it’s not as potent as tear gas.

Yeardley: [00:24:25] But it’s essentially the same substance in a different form?

Dave: [00:24:28] Yeah, OC spray is oleoresin capsaicin.

Yeardley: [00:24:31] How do you even know that?

Dave: [00:24:33] Well, I’m a nerd. OC, oleoresin capsaicin.

Yeardley: [00:24:38] And OC is what’s in a tear gas canister as well?

Dave: [00:24:42] Yes, it’s a more potent OC. I just know I don’t want anything to do with OC or tear gas canisters.

Yeardley: [00:24:49] Interesting.

Dave: [00:24:51] In this case, they fire a couple of canisters of tear gas into Mitch’s apartment. It gets working really quick, and all of a sudden, his apartment is engulfed in tear gas. You can’t sit through that. If you can, you must have special equipment or something, but most people can’t stand five minutes in that environment, much less a couple hours. At some point the decision’s made, we’re going to breach and make entry into this apartment and go grab him.

Yeardley: [00:25:19] It doesn’t squirt him, out this tear gas?

Dave: [00:25:21] No. They breach the door, go in, as the layout of this apartment is when you first go in the front door, off to the left is the living room, and the kitchen is off the living room straight back. Then, if you go in several steps and turn to your right, that’s where the two bedrooms and the bathroom are. As they go in, they see Mitch on his recliner off to the left. He’s facing his TV. He’s got a floor lamp next to him on his left side. He is bleeding profusely, and he’s breathing but he’s got an enormous wound to his face. It’s later determined, it’s a self-inflicted gunshot wound. While the chaos is happening out in the parking lot, he walks back into his apartment and likely within minutes, shot himself. He hasn’t killed himself. I went to the autopsy for this, the track of the bullet went basically right up through his sinuses and out the top of his head and didn’t really hit major stuff in his brain. He’s alive. He’s horribly wounded, and he’s disfigured.

Yeardley: [00:26:34] Tell me that he’s out of it. Like is he experiencing extraordinary pain, or he must be in so much shock that it’s irrelevant?

Dave: [00:26:40] He wasn’t conscious. He’s still breathing, but he’s not conscious. He’s just basically bleeding out. And they gather him up, they noticed that the gun is on the armrest of his recliner, they grabbed the gun, move it out of the way, grab him, run him down to an ambulance, and they whisked him away to the hospital. I think George and another officer were escorting him out to the ambulance. He doesn’t even make it to the hospital. He dies in route to the hospital. Mitch is dead. And then, that’s when all the investigation starts into what’s going on and the moments that led up to the shooting that day.


Dave: [00:27:32] We got a search warrant for the apartment, start walking through Mitch’s apartment, and this is what I’m noticing, yeah, there’s knives and hatchets and nun chucks, all over the walls. He’s got all kinds of military and survival-type magazines and books, that type of stuff. He’s got knives, like Bowie knives on the wall right next to the front door.

Yeardley: [00:27:54] What are those exactly?

Dave: [00:27:56] Big hunting knives, survival-type knives, and he’s got those hanging off of pegs right next to the front door. Like if I ever get attacked to my front door, I have something to grab right here. And then I see the .357 revolver. Then, I start seeing other things. This gunshot wound that he inflicted on himself basically destroyed his face. SWAT had aired out this apartment, opened up all the windows and all the doors, like, “Let’s get the gas out of here.” I mean it’s an hour and a half after they’ve introduced gas. I’m in there having to walk out every minute or two to wipe my eyes and blow my nose.

Yeardley: [00:28:33] Really?

Dave: [00:28:34] It’s horrible. I notice the kitchen is in perfect line with the living room. I see this hole in the kitchen window. And then, the light fixture in the kitchen on the ceiling is destroyed and it’s laying on the ground. And there’s this pinkish, reddish smear on the window, on the curtains that are covering the window, on the light fixture, on the ceiling. I’m looking at trajectories and I’m looking for this tear gas canister, like, “Where did it go?” I see that the floor lamp right next to Mitch’s recliner’s destroyed and it’s got this reddish smear on it.

Yeardley: [00:29:16] Is tear gas reddish?

Dave: [00:29:18] Yeah, right. When it deploys, it sends out this reddish pinkish residue. I’m looking, and then I see a perfect line between this hole in the kitchen window where it bounces off the ceiling, goes through the lamp, and it would hit match right square on the side of the head. I later confirmed that at the autopsy because I look at the side of Mitch’s head and he’s got this red smear on the left side of his face. While he’s going through the whole failed suicide attempt, he gets smacked square in the head with a tear gas canister.

Yeardley: [00:29:54] No way!

Dave: [00:29:54] One in a million shot.

Yeardley: [00:29:56] Fuck! So, both of those things killed him!

Dave: [00:29:59] I think that tear gas canister is to add insult to injury, and it might be insensitive, but I don’t feel bad that he suffered a tear gas slap to the side of the face, given what he did. But it’s interesting, it’s like, “Wow, you could take that shot 100,000 times and you probably only hit one.”

Dan: [00:30:16] Because whoever shot it, they’re down in a field to the east of this. They can’t even see inside this apartment. They know which window belongs to Mitch’s apartment, but what are the odds?

Yeardley: [00:30:26] Right. They have no idea what’s beyond the actual window frame.

Dan: [00:30:30] Where’s Mitch in the apartment? Maybe he’s in the bathroom, he’s taking a leak. Or he’s trying to seal up because he knows tear gas is going to be coming in. So, he seals up the bathroom, puts a wet towel on the floor at the door. The odds of this are just astronomical.

Yeardley: [00:30:44] It’s incredible. What went so wrong for Mitch that day?

Dave: [00:30:49] Mitch, apparently knowing that that was the last day that he was going to live in his apartment, I think was waiting for Dean to show up. Hours before the shooting, Mitch is out in the parking lot, and one of his neighbors is walking up to her apartment on the same stairwell that leads to his apartment. She’s with her husband, and the husband’s a little out in front of her, but she’s climbing the stairs a few steps in front of Mitch, and Mitch makes a comment about her physical appearance, that’s just only an asshole would say the thing that he said to her, comments on her physical appearance. And she turns around and just tells him, “Fuck you, dude. Leave me alone.” It kind of gives you a little insight into where Mitch’s state of mind was, it was kind of like, “Screw everybody.” I think he had made his decision up, “Whenever Dean comes to my apartment, that’s it. That’ll be the end of it. I’m going to end the person who’s making my life so miserable.” Dean’s just doing his job, the same way he’s done with dozens of other tenants, and Mitch pulls this crap.

Yeardley: [00:31:53] “I’m going to take somebody down with me.”

Dan: [00:31:55] Yeah. And even beckons him to his door. “Hey, come talk to me.” It’s so cowardly.

Yeardley: [00:32:02] Yes. Do either of you ever feel like in your job, all you’re doing is stopping the immediate flow of blood? You’re sort of poking holes in the dam as opposed to mitigating the actual source of the problem?

Dave: [00:32:19] Well, the frustrating part for law enforcement is it’s difficult for us to do anything until someone commits the crime. It’s hard to be proactive. You can’t get out in front of things because they can say, “Well, you’re about to burglarize that house. “But I haven’t, I’m just standing in the middle of the street.” It is frustrating. I think you see these comments on social media where, “Why didn’t the police do anything?” I can’t anticipate that you’re going to do something, the act happens, and then the police are the consequence where there’s enforcement action taken, and we arrange a meeting between you and a judge. That’s the frustrating part is, “I want to do something.”

Yeardley: [00:33:04] I think I didn’t phrase my question well. My thought is that when I hear about stories like Mitch, and we’ve talked about this a little bit on the podcast about how there are so many people in the world who don’t know how to deal with their loneliness, their depression, their feelings of isolation. The consequence is that somebody like Mitch then lures Dean to his door, he executes him. He ruins that man’s life, his family. And then, you guys, Dave, you’re called in to clean up the mess as Mitch also ends his own life. I don’t mean why didn’t you do something sooner. I mean there is a much bigger problem here that we as a society, I feel, don’t address. And you guys are the ones who are left to sort of clean it up.

Dan: [00:33:55] I agree with that. You try to be proactive out there, but we are largely reactionary. This is a perfect example of that.

Dave: [00:34:03] They talk about missed signs, missed red flags and those types of things. In this one, I’m sure somebody’s pointing to why didn’t the police take his gun several weeks before this happened.

Yeardley: [00:34:15] But you couldn’t.

Dave: [00:34:16] Right. I have to have a legal basis to do that. I understand the argument, totally. But we have to play within the boundaries of the law and what we can do. Those situations are frustrating. There’s other talk about school shooters and stuff, and all the missed signals and missed opportunities to get this person incarcerated, take their guns away, limit their ability to buy weapons–

Dan: [00:34:42] Get them some help.

Dave: [00:34:43] Get them some help. In some aspects, I can see that argument. There’s other aspects where I’m like, “Hey, I’ve still got to play by the rules. I can only do what I can do. And I understand where you’re coming from. I wish I could do that, but I don’t have enough.”

Dan: [00:34:57] And we don’t have a crystal ball either. The movie, Minority Report, you’re arrested for the future crime of whatever. I wish, I wish we had a crystal ball we could see and be able to tell when something like this was going to happen so we could intervene, but that’s just fantasyland sometimes. I’m sure the officers who went out and talked to Mitch, after the shooting, reflected on that, and like, “I tried, I just didn’t have enough.” That’s hard to think about. I’ve been on welfare checks where I went and talked to somebody who we got an anonymous tip that they were suicidal, nothing on social media or anything. It was someone who wanted to remain anonymous, had called in and said, “This person is suicidal,” so I go out and talk to him.” They assure me, “No, I don’t know who’s telling you that. I’m fine.” Two days later, they kill themselves. What do you do? I feel horrible. I feel horrible that like, “Did I miss something?” I missed some sign that this person was lying to me about what was going on in their current state of mind. You can’t dwell on those things. You just have to move on. People make choices, and it’s unfortunate.

Yeardley: [00:36:12] And you guys always say that the larger social services that are available are mostly overwhelmed.

Dave: [00:36:18] Yeah.

Yeardley: [00:36:19] So, there’s just a ton of challenges, I guess, is kind of the point I’m making, and then you sit across from me and tell me this horrible story. It’s just so tragic, from soup to nuts.

Dave: [00:36:32] Yeah, I feel horrible for Dean’s family. Mitch, what he did to his family is– I don’t have any regard for Mitch.

Yeardley: [00:36:42] Yeah. Interesting.

Dan: [00:36:45] I was actually on vacation when this incident happened, and I sent Dave a text and said, “Hey, are you okay?” He said he was fine. So, that made me feel better. When these incidents happen, though, like you hear a big SWAT call out in this big situation, I was a detective when this happened, and I wanted to be there. I want to be there with Dave and George and Kyle and Justin and sergeant Dave. You want to be there, and you feel a little guilty because you weren’t there.

Yeardley: [00:37:14] Right. Wow. I do love it when the band is all together. Thank you, guys.

Dan: [00:37:19] Thank you.

Dave: [00:37:20] Thank you.


Yeardley: [00:37:24] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith, and co-produced by Detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Soren Begin, Gary Scott, and me, Yeardley Smith. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor, the Real Nick Smitty. Our music is composed by John Forest. Our editors extraordinaire are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin. Our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.

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Dave [00:38:33] Thanks for listening, Small Town fam.

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