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Just when we arrived inside the compound, I heard gunfire. I jumped out of the car and into the dark of night, leaving Jacob and Sniffer behind. I figured these felons could be armed, so I was pretty sure someone was in trouble.

Terry caught up to me and yelled, “Come on.”

As Terry and I ran toward the gunfire, we came across a small wooden structure with a piece of plywood propped over the front entrance. Terry started walking past the structure, but my gut told me to hold up. I didn’t ever want to have my back to a structure that had not been searched.

I yelled, “Wait! We need to clear this in case it’s occupied.”

Terry turned to me and said, “Okay. You go first, and I’ll cover you.” 

I knew this could be a very dangerous situation, so I knew I needed to apply caution to the nth degree. These escapees were murderers, and I had to assume they didn’t believe they had anything to lose if they got caught.

I drew my gun and held it in my right hand in the ready position. My left hand held my flashlight under my gun hand. Terry held his shotgun to his shoulder, ready to shoot if necessary.

I could feel my heart pounding hard in my chest as adrenaline surged throughout my body. I kicked a four-by-eight sheet of plywood to the side and entered the shack. I swept the small room with my light and gun and realized that it was large enough to hold only the twin-size mattress covering the floor.

Then something caught my attention. I couldn’t believe it. Underneath the mattress were two feet sticking out of the end.

I motioned to Terry. He came up beside me, his shotgun still poised for action.

I fell into survival mode. My vision was focused, and I heard every sound in the shack. I felt eerily calm, confident with my tactical training and knowing that my partner Terry stood next to me ready to take matters into his hands should the situation require it.

I kicked the mattress off the hump huddled underneath it. I saw a man lying on the floor.

I stuck my 9mm Beretta very close to his head and calmly stated, “If you move one muscle, you’re dead.” 

Terry then came closer to also cover the man’s head with his shotgun. I holstered my gun, took out my handcuffs, and cuffed the suspect. He didn’t resist, and for that, I was relieved.

At that moment, we weren’t a hundred-percent sure he was one of the escapees, but the fact that he was hiding from us in such a manner told us that he was guilty of something. However, with our attention on the escapees, we knew the possibility existed he was one of them, and we weren’t taking any chances.

He got to his feet. In the dim light of Terry’s flashlight, I could see that he was Hispanic and very dirty. He looked down and away from the light.

I asked, “Cómo te llamas?” In English, that means what’s your name?

He looked back up at me, his eyes narrowed, and his chin jutted forward in defiance. “Alvarez.”

His answer took me by surprise. One of the escapees was named Alvarez.

I said, “No way.” 

He said, “Yes, I am. My prison ID’s in my pocket.” Evidently, he spoke English.

Thank goodness Terry and I had searched this structure.  

I radioed our apprehension and arrest to my supervisor, and then we walked back to the cars with Alvarez. My supervisor stood on a gravel clearing waiting for us.

I said, “Here’s Alvarez.”

Mark walked up with another FDLE agent. Both had been assigned to the Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force. 

My supervisor said, “Hand over Alvarez to Mark.”

Mark shrugged and raised the inside of his eyebrows. I could tell he felt like the guilty cat that swallowed the canary. He probably knew I wasn’t happy with this arrangement. Nevertheless, I was pretty sure he was happy to be on the receiving end of getting all of the credit.

I watched with frustration and disappointment as Mark and the other agent whisked Alvarez away. They had their pictures taken with their trophy while Alvarez wore my handcuffs!

I was miffed that Terry and I didn’t get a photo shoot or any recognition whatsoever for that matter. After all, we’re the ones who risked our lives by approaching a very dangerous felon, not knowing if he was armed and waiting to shoot us, yet we and our efforts were pushed aside. However, at that end of the day (or operation), I was really glad I caught a really bad guy.