Alberttown station attack
Crawling on ground likely saved my life - policeman
June 7, 2002
Articles on crime
A policeman on duty at the Alberttown Police Station last week Thursday said he had exited the building through a back door, but then jumped back through a window as bullets rained on the precinct.
In that attack policeman Andy Atwell was killed after four or five bullets from a high-calibre weapon struck him.
The officer, who preferred to remain unnamed, said that he was in the upper flat of the building when the shooting began, prompting him to flee for safety.
Once the firing had begun and not knowing from where it was emanating, the rank immediately began to exit the building though a back door before jumping through a window and crawling several metres as the constant stream of gunfire continued. Similar action was said to have been taken by others on duty in the lower flat of the building's enquiries office who sought refuge by lying on the floor behind the counter.
According to the rank, he had seen the car pull up and three men get out. He then heard Atwell exclaim and considered making a dash for the yard but the hail of gunfire forced him to abandon that idea and retreat inside. This decision most likely saved him from a barrage of bullets.
The ferocity of the gunfire had kept ranks at the station immobile resulting in them not being able to engage the men in an exchange of fire. This was acknowledged by Commissioner of Police (ag), Floyd McDonald, who spoke to reporters after paying a visit to the station just after the incident during which time he spoke with shaken ranks and senior officers.
The entire attack, which lasted several minutes, left residents in the otherwise quiet neighbourhood shellshocked as they had never anticipated such an attack especially in the manner in which it was carried out.
According to ranks, on the night of the incident, the situation was so chaotic that they had no time to think. Within seconds of the men exiting one of the vehicles, which pulled up by the Fourth Street entrance to the station, the men began firing and continued until they re-entered the vehicle and departed as suddenly as they had arrived.
During the armed assault, another officer Shane McKenzie suffered injuries as he attempted to take evasive action to escape the gunshots.
The intensity of the gunfire also resulted in a fire starting in an arms store in the station necessitating the fire service being sought to extinguish the flames. Prior to their arrival however a bucket brigade was used to douse the flames.
Since the shooting, stations in several areas have initiated additional security measures including armed ranks in bulletproof vests manning their locations. (Oscar P. Clarke)