History: Sniper with serious skill shoots gun from suicidal man’s hand. This is an amazing story
Caught on camera. In a stand off with police, a man has his gun shot from his hands. This particular sniper has some serious skills. Notice how the man looks around after it’s shot out of his hand.
Distraught and depressed, Doug Conley eases back into his white plastic chair and perches his chin on the business end of a .38-caliber revolver. He’s sitting in the middle of a residential intersection on the Northwest Side surrounded by cops. He yells that he wants to see his former girlfriend. Instead, police call in Mike Plumb, a Columbus SWAT sniper who has taken a position under a pine tree 82 yards away.
Officer Mike Plumb, a Vietnam veteran, hurried to the scene with his Steyr SSG PII black sniper rifle. Positioning himself in the prone from 82 yards away, Plumb trained his scope on the target. When negotiations finally stalled for good, Lt. Peter Tobin gave permission to fire with one caveat: Plumb wasn’t allowed to injure the target. He had to shoot the small .38 revolver out of Conley’s hand without causing any harm to Conley himself. While Plumb had practiced on ranges shooting dimes from hundreds of meters away, this was a situation he had never prepared himself for.
He pointed his rifle, carefully aiming for the scant few inches of the tiny revolver not tucked in Conley’s hand, and at the right moment when Conley dropped the .38 revolver between his legs, Plumb fired.
The revolver exploded inside Conley’s hands, leaving him completely untouched. Conley stared at it, now in three pieces, on the ground. He only had time to look up and act as if nothing had happened before being tackled to the ground by police. His only comment upon his arrest? “That was a good shot.”
Plumb retired from the Columbus Police Department in 2000, and to this day remains the only police sniper in Columbus to have fired while on a call.
“They don’t make them like Mike anymore,” Mayor Michael B. Coleman said. “I respect the guy for his entire career. He’s one of the best of the best, and I really do not want him to retire. It will be a loss.”
At Columbus’ SWAT headquarters, Plumb is a hero.
The rifle he used to bring a peaceful end to a tense standoff — and save Conley’s life — hangs in the hallway at SWAT headquarters. Below it is what’s left of Conley’s revolver, attached to a plaque that reads “The shot seen ’round the world” because TV cameras were rolling when he fired.
Although the event happened before the Internet took off, the video has been viewed more than 8 million times on YouTube. One guns-and-ammo website labeled it one of the top five sniper shots ever captured on video. Some cop television shows on cable still replay the moment.
“I had no idea,” Plumb said last week. “I am not up on that sort of stuff.”
Plumb retired as a police officer in 2000 and was hired as the city’s facility security manager in 2007.
He applied for and helped secure a federal grant to install surveillance cameras in several neighborhoods. The city now has about 300 neighborhood cameras that help police track illegal activity.
In addition to ensuring that the city’s Downtown buildings are safe, Plumb also programs the decorative lights atop City Hall.
“Right now, they are red, white and blue for the NHL All-Star game,” Plumb said recently. ” But I can make them change any color.”
He also makes security nametags for new employees; finds items such as spare security cameras and computer parts for other departments; and makes sure guests of elected officials are accommodated.
“It took about eight months when they hired me for this job for someone to say, ‘Hey, you’re the sharpshooter,’” Plumb said. “And that’s OK with me.”
Peter Tobin, who was Plumb’s SWAT commander in 1993, said Plumb remained humble after his shot made him a celebrity.
“Mike would keep a diary of weather conditions when he was shooting,” said Tobin, who is now a U.S. marshal. “He’s as reliable as they come. He’s so methodical.”
As for Conley, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of inducing panic and was put on probation for two years.