Timeline of a Shooting Investigation

From Army Times* comes this series of news stories, reprinted from the Hattiesburg, Mississippi American newspaper and/or the Associated Press:

[Camp] Shelby MP shot while making rounds — Jan. 21.

Wife Arrested in Shelby MP’s shooting — Jan. 24.

Camp Shelby MP may face charges in shooting: sheriff  – Jan. 25.

You just know there’s a story there.

It begins around midnight Friday night, January 20th, when duty Military Policeman Britain Wright reported that he was shot in the chest while making a routine security check at the camp’s north gate. A driver shot him once and then drove off… he didn’t return fire. His combat protective vest stopped the bullet, and he was taken to Forrest General Hospital, examined, a released. The base raised its alert level, and sheriff’s deputies and other MPs began looking for the assailant, while Forrest County sheriff’s investigators interviewed the victim.

He was shot by a person in familiar Army uniform. The single shot from a .380 auto pistol slammed into Wright’s vest, and stopped. It was a near-run thing, Sheriff Billy McGee noted: “two inches higher, it would have killed him.”  The shooter then calmly backed back out of the gate and drove off while Wright called for help.

That night, his wife Tiffany visited him in the hospital, and when he checked out Saturday morning, they went home together.

But Wright’s story had gaps and implausibilities in it, and after hours of questioning the following Monday, he began to slip. Finally the truth came out. The Army uniform the shooter was wearing, and the car she was in, were quite familiar — they were his own, and the shooter was Tiffany, who suspected him of cheating on her.

She arranged by cell phone to meet him at the gate, and when she did, she didn’t say a word — she let Mr .380 do her talking for her.

“She never says a word to him, shoots him, gets back in the driver’s door, goes and backs out and drives off,” McGee said. Investigators don’t know if she was counting on the vest to stop the bullet, or not.

Meanwhile, both military and civilian police had been all wound up looking for an assailant whose identity and whereabouts would have been no mystery — if the shooting victim had come clean.

Tiffany Wright, 30, is charged with aggravated assault.

Sheriff McGee is waiting to see if the Army somehow punishes Britain Wright for his false police report. If not, he’ll file misdemeanor false-report charges.

This probably hasn’t done Wright’s career in military police a whole lot of good. He may be invited to excel somewhere other than the Army. We also see marriage counseling, or “family law” attorneys, in the Wrights’ future.

There are some lessons here for the Weapons Man, apart from some obvious ones like, Beware, beware, the bad-guano-crazy woman. That pretty much covers it from Mr Wright’s point of view. Well, no, actually: Do not perjure yourself for you bat-guano-crazy woman who just tried to whack you. Ok, now it’s covered from his POV.

From Mrs Wright’s viewpoint, the lesson depends on whether she was trying to whack her husband, or just send a message. If the latter: Guns are not suitable devices for sending a message. Unless the message is: Bang! You’re dead.

If she was actually trying to whack him, she’s a miserable failure. To kill someone wearing body armor, you need to either (a) use a weapon capable of overcoming that body armor. And it doesn’t matter what level of armor it is, a .380 pocket pistol is not going to penetrate reliably. Or (b) shoot a vital area outside the body armor.

Ineffective shots on armored targets are tantamount to no shots at all. Actually, in most cases they’re worse: they make the guy mad, and then he wants to fight. True, you can hammer a guy down with body hits and then whack him on the ground, but that’s not a very elegant way to do things, and it’s certainly not an approach you can count on. On the other hand, weapons that penetrate body armor aren’t pocket pistols.

*For those of you who don’t know, Army / Navy / etc. Times are publications for active-duty service members, that for years provided the best insight into administrative and personnel stuff like promotion lists and pay scales. In the 1990s they were bought by the Gannett chain, and we stopped reading as they became full of anti-military slant and soldier-hostile columnists inherited from the new parent organization.