The killing of five police officers in downtown Dallas this summer resulted in police using a remote-controlled robot to detonate and end the murderer’s spree. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies recently used a similar method to prevent another tragedy. And this time, they even spared the gunman’s life.
An hours-long standoff in the Antelope Valley ended with police swiping a rifle from an attempted murder suspect using a remote-controlled robot, the Los Angeles Times reported, marking another effective use of military-grade technology in local law enforcement to reduce further risk of injury or death for suspects, officers, and civilians.
Capt. Jack Ewell, a tactical expert with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (the largest in the nation) told the LA Times that the robot was a game changer in the situation.
“We didn’t have to risk a deputy’s life to disarm a very violent man,” he said.
The incident occurred late on Sept. 8, when “the suspect, Brock Ray Bunge, 51, fled into a dark, remote field in the Antelope Valley. A sheriff’s helicopter eventually tracked him down to a dirt berm, where he holed up surrounded by shrubbery and wire fencing.”
When Bunge refused to surrender to the deputies, a SWAT team worked unsuccessfully to force a surrender for more than six hours. The officials set the robot out to get a better view of the suspect’s hideout and learned that he was on his stomach with a rifle at his feet.
“To seize the firearm, they hatched a plan that relied on distractions. Deputies in an armored vehicle approached to the front of Bunge, yelling at him through a public address system to surrender. A helicopter whirred overhead,” the Times reported. “From behind, the olive-colored robot approached and extended its claw into Bunge’s hideout.”
Bunge didn’t notice the robot’s successful recovery of the rifle, and deputies obtained the gun as he immediately surrendered.
The Andros robot cost approximately $300,000, and is typically used for bomb disposal. In this case, the robot proved effective in an alternative use case, saving the lives of officers, potential victims, and the suspect himself.
“When it saves lives, it is more than worth it,” Ewell told the Times.