‘I could have easily shot these two’
When a shot rang out from the car Deputy Brian Morton stopped Thursday night, he had only one option – to return fire.
Morton had his finger on the trigger of his shotgun when he saw four hands go up.
“I could have easily shot these two, but once I saw hands, that’s it,” the married father of four said Friday. “I’m not here to take lives.”
About 9:30 p.m. Morton, 33, was driving one of a half-dozen patrol cars speeding to the North Carson City 7-Eleven where witnesses reported a man with a gun chasing someone.
As he neared the gas station, dispatchers reported the suspects were in a white car heading north on Highway 395.
Morton said he caught up to a group of three vehicles and spotted a white Oldsmobile with two men in the front. When he reached the top of Lakeview Hill he stopped the Oldsmobile.
As he was exiting his patrol car about 50 seconds ahead of his backup, Morton said he heard the gunshot. He immediately raised his shotgun and was about to squeeze the trigger when the two men in the vehicle threw their hands into the air.
Within 45 seconds, backup deputies arrived to help secure the two men in the car. For Morton, those seconds seemed like an hour.
“My main concern when this was all going down was my personal safety and getting home to my wife and children,” he said.
He credits his training with keeping his cool.
An asset not lost on his superiors in the department, or Jose Gonzalez, 18 and Mario Alberto Morris, 19, who were arrested in the incident.
“They both thanked me in booking,” he recalled. “They said, ‘Thank you so much for not shooting.’ They knew that they probably should have been shot. They even asked me if I was OK.”
Morton said Morris admitted he was trying to empty a bullet from the chamber of the pump-action 12-gauge shotgun when it went off. The blast tore a whole through the floorboard of the passenger side and exited the wheel well.
Lt. Ken Sandage, head of patrol, said he was pleased with the outcome.
“I’m very confident in Morton’s ability as a peace officer. He’s just an outstanding cop and he does an outstanding job for us,” he said.
“With respect to the amount of information we received from witnesses and dispatch, the execution of the traffic stop was flawless.”
Friday, taking a break from patrol, Morton talked about how proud he was of his department, and all the deputies who put a quick end to a volatile situation.
“All the deputies that responded did such an excellent job,” he said. “This was the best outcome that could have possibly come out of the situation. I didn’t have to take two very young lives. This is the closest I’ve ever come to shooting somebody.”
Morris was charged with felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a minor, misdemeanor discharging a firearm in public, carrying a loaded firearm and fighting. Gonzalez was charged with felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a minor, misdemeanor driving without a license, no insurance, possession of marijuana, and fighting.
Contact F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.