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Gunfire in Westminster

February 21, 1988

In your brief report on a robbery suspect being arrested in Westminster (Jan. 29), the small article made two casual statements:

"Gunfire was exchanged."

"No one was injured in the chase."

When gunfire is exchanged, bullets must end up somewhere. The Westminster Police Department opened fire without warning, without regard to who or what was in the line of fire.

My father and I were nearly killed by this reckless attempt to arrest a small-time thief. In fact, three bullets actually hit the gasoline pump that we were using, two of the bullets missing my father literally by inches.

No crime or violation is worth the life of innocent bystanders. Our courts spend countless hours and dollars protecting the rights of the criminals lest we accidentally sentence an innocent man to death, and yet in a split second, with no court, no jury, I almost became that innocent man.

The police have an immense responsibility to "protect" citizens from criminals. They were lucky this time. And so was I. But maybe in the future someone else may not be. And then it's too late.

BORIS M. RALPHS

Westminster

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