One year ago today at 4:30 p.m., three Rapid City Police officers were shot while performing their duties at the intersection of Anamosa and Greenbriar Streets. Two of the officers, Nick Armstrong and Ryan McCandless, died. The third officer, Tim Doyle, was seriously injured but survived. The person responsible for the attack also died, killed by the officers.
My first memory of August 2nd 2011 was sitting in the Mayor’s office, having my first official meeting with him since his election. I got a phone call from RCPD Captain Karl Jegeris, and ignored it. If it was important, he would call again. He did.
I answered, and in a panicked voice, Karl told me “officers have been shot” and gave me the location. I left the Mayor and got into my car, pulling onto Omaha Street. As I turned the corner, I thought to myself that it was probably a minor shrapnel wound, maybe no one was really hurt at all…maybe Karl was wrong and he meant to say “officers have been shot…at.”
Then I saw a Rapid City Fire Department ambulance running hot down Omaha Street (they always do that, so no big deal) and without hesitation, the ambulance turned abruptly to the left, hit the concrete median divider and went partially airborne – a very awkward thing for a three- or four-ton ambulance to do. The ambulance recovered, avoided the backed-up traffic at the intersection, and turned northbound toward the location of the shooting. That’s when it hit me. I assumed, correctly, that the ambulance driver knew more about the call than I did. I drove to the scene, expecting the worst. Even then, I underestimated how bad it really was.
Many of us have horrible images burned into our memories from that day.
When I arrived, Nick and Ryan had already been removed from the scene and were on the way to the hospital. Tim Doyle was being loaded into an ambulance. I grabbed his leg and got his attention – I told him I would call his wife. He looked at me as if I were an idiot and tried to tell me someone was already doing that. It was hard for him to talk, and as they took him away, I went numb.
I saw the assailant, Daniel Tiger, being removed from the scene on a gurney. He was being well taken care of, but he looked to be dead or dying. The scene was chaotic, with many unanswered questions. Was there more than one shooter? We knew very little initially, other than the fact that our lives had changed in a moment.
I drove to the hospital, spent a few days there off and on and quickly forgot what day it was. The rest is history. Living history.
So, on the one-year anniversary, there are still questions without answers. There is still heartache. There is still confusion and disbelief. But it’s different than it was last month and the month before that. Things are changing, one day at a time. Most things are changing, but not everything.
What has not changed is our commitment to the community, our mission and our belief that even though there is risk…it’s worth it. Our officers know of the risks firsthand; they see it every day with their eyes, they feel it every day with their minds, and they overcome it every day with their hearts. They strap on their equipment and show up, ready to carry out the duties Nick, Ryan and Tim were performing one year ago. Why? Because it’s worth it and we owe it to you and to them.
We will remember Nick and Ryan on this day with fond memories. We will remember what Tim Doyle went through with admiration. We will remember Nick and Ryan’s family and friends with respect and gratitude. We will also remember the family of Daniel Tiger, for they too lost a loved one on August 2nd. We will remember the support we received from the community and I, for one, will always remember our sister law enforcement agencies as well as the paramedics, doctors, nurses and other hospital staff who did so much for us. Being on the receiving end of emergency services is humbling. And on August 3rd, we will strap on our equipment and show up.