Just An Average Ride-Along?
In small towns like Ukiah, California, residents usually feel pretty isolated from the violence found in big cities. But for Sergeant Marcus Young, 15 years of training taught him to be prepared for the worst-- and how to deal when the bad and ugly showed their face in his town.
On March 7, 2003, Young was on patrol with 17-year-old Julian Covella, a police cadet looking to get some first-hand experience through ride-alongs.
When a low priority radio call came in on a shoplifter at a nearby Walmart, Young thought it would be a routine call-- and a valuable experience for Covella.
Young took the first shot directly in the face.
Routine Call Turns Deadly
But the call would prove to be anything but routine. The shoplifter was a woman trying to use a fake receipt to get a store refund. After taking her into custody, Young brought her out to the police car. Brett Schott, a security guard at Walmart, told Young that the woman had a shady looking boyfriend with her, Neil Beckman. Beckman looked like he was up to no good, and his shaved head with horn tattoos only made him stand out more. Despite his appearance, the woman told Young that her boyfriend wasn't dangerous. But moments later, Beckman advanced toward the Sergeant, refusing to take his hands out of his pockets.
"As he was walking toward me I had a couple things in mind," said Young. "I thought he looked very intense, I thought he may be under the influence of a drug. I intended on interviewing him."
Young wouldn't get that far. Beckman pulled a .38 revolver out of his pocket and began to shoot. Young took the first shot directly in the face. Incredibly, he stayed focused and continued his attempts to disarm Beckman. As more shots rang out, bullets tore into his right bicep, left side, and hand.
Top Cop Keeps His Cool
With Beckman's revolver emptied, security guard Schott sprung into action. He raced toward Beckman and attempted to take him down, but Beckman drove a knife into Schott's left side. The wound exposed his lung-- Schott's condition was bad.
Beckman jumped into Young's cruiser, looking to grab the shotgun that was in the car.
Young found himself in a seemingly impossible situation. Both his left hand and right arm were completely useless. Blood was everywhere. If Beckman got hold of Young's weapon, he could do some serious damage. But while others might have given up, Young knew he had to continue fighting for the safety of Covella, Schott, and everyone else in the parking lot.
"I tried to draw with my left hand and couldn't do it so I thought of another option, asking Julian to get me my firearm," said Young. "Consciously I wasn't putting a lot of thought into what I was doing. I was reacting appropriately based on training."
Covella was able to grab Young's weapon and place it in his uninjured hand. Young then fired four rounds at Beckman, who slumped over, no longer a threat. He died shortly after.
Young's actions that night earned him a Top Cop award from the National Association of Police Organizations. He showed incredible resolve during an intense situation. But Young also earned something else that night--a top spot in young Covella's mind as a true hero.
John Walsh presented Sergeant Young his Top Cop award.
Neil Beckman shot Sergeant Young five times.
Sergeant Marcus Young was honored for his bravery the night Beckman went wild.