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View Full Version : 1998: Taft gun shop owner killed in gun shop. Suicide or murder?


tenpercentfirearms
08-12-2007, 10:29 PM
We brought this up in another thread and I just did some research on it. Be sure to click the links for photos. Leave your comments.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=16765

Taft PD says shooting 'justified'
Professor, friend question official account

Posted: October 23, 1998
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Sarah Foster
© 1998 WorldNetDaily.com

Gun store owner Darryl Howell died instantly of a single gunshot wound to the head, according to the official autopsy report. The report cites the cause of death as "craniocerebral trauma due to tight contact gunshot wound to mouth." In other words, a gun was fired into his mouth and the bullet entered his brain. More specifically, a "large projectile" was fired through the roof of the mouth at a 45-degree angle. The bullet and three fragments "were retrieved from the inner cranial cavity." There was no exit wound. Howell, 45, died Oct. 7 during a mid-morning raid on his business, the Alpha-Omega Surplus and Supplies store, located near Taft, California -- about 37 miles southwest of Bakersfield. The raid -- a joint effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Kern County Sheriff's Department -- was part of a county-wide sweep of gun dealers alleged to be selling illegal weapons. In a related finding, a police shooting review board ruled Monday that Taft police Sgt. Ed Whiting was "within policy" when he pumped three slugs into Howell during the raid. The autopsy report gives details of Whiting's shots: a contact wound to his right back, a shot to his right upper back and a shot to his right lateral chest -- all were between his waist and shoulder. They have been ruled "justifiable" by the shooting review board. The board was comprised solely of Taft Police Chief Bert Pumphrey and Taft police Lt. Ken McMinn. Whiting, who had been on "administrative leave," has returned to duty. Pumphrey did not return WorldNetDaily phone calls, and he has been advised by city attorneys that he should restrict his comments due to pending litigation initiated by Howell's family. Both reports essentially reaffirm the official scenario of the incident, which has generated considerable skepticism from the public, especially among Howell's friends and relatives. According to the official account, two unnamed BATF agents, senior sheriff deputy Bob Bendle and officer Whiting entered the store about 10 a.m. As Bendle was trying to handcuff him, Howell -- who weighs 315 pounds -- broke away and ran behind the counter where he grabbed a loaded .45-caliber handgun. One of the BATF agents ended up on that side of the counter where he grabbed hold of Howell. The agent yelled "gun" and "don't do it" as the two struggled for control of the weapon -- but Howell was able to put the barrel of the gun in his mouth and fire. At that very instant, Whiting -- who was looking away -- whirled about and drew his own gun and fired the three shots into Howell's body. The autopsy report says that those three shots didn't kill Howell, because he was already dead. The report also says, however, that one of those shots was fired close range -- just an inch from the body. Because of that finding and certain inconsistencies in the official version of the incident, Harold Pease, professor of political science at Taft College, continues to challenge that account and presses for a full investigation. He detailed his concerns in a phone interview. "To me it doesn't matter if an autopsy shows the first bullet killed him," he said. "Whiting's intention was to try and kill somebody. He didn't fire at the knee. He deliberately put three bullets into the right side of Darryl's back. "It comes down to this: If you've got a grudge against a guy do you pull the trigger a little faster than if you don't? I think you do. Where was the other ATF agent? He has a weapon; Bendle has a weapon -- but nobody is firing except this one cop, and he gets three shots off and nobody else fires a single one. "This is something that needs to be looked into," Pease reiterated. "And it needs to be looked into by someone who isn't protecting the ATF and the Taft PD." Pease augmented his remarks by rhetorically posing several questions that have not been answered satisfactorily, and should be raised in any investigation:

"What was the Taft Police Department officer doing there?" Pease demanded. "Taft has no jurisdiction outside the city, and Darryl's shop is definitely in the county. It's well-known that Whiting has a grudge against Darryl -- why didn't he excuse himself? Why was he allowed to come along?"
"Why wasn't the body removed for seven hours after the shooting? That seems strange," he observed.
WorldNetDaily has obtained copies of the search warrant and the inventory of items taken. According to these, the search itself did not commence until 4:50 in the afternoon. That raises the question of what was going on in the store for six-and-one-half hours following the shooting.
"Why wasn't Darryl's mother notified of the death of her son until many hours later, until just before dark?" Pease asked.
WorldNetDaily has confirmed through a contact with the family that Howell's relatives were never formally notified of his death. His mother, Eunice, waited at the police barracades the entire day, anxious for some kind of word, knowing something drastic had happened, but not told what -- and all the time her son lay dead inside. Finally, at about 7:30, as the officers were beginning to leave, she asked if her son were dead. "Yes, I believe so, ma'am," one of them said. That was the only word she was given. To this day the family has not received official notification or condolence. Like Pease, Steven Hess, a Taft resident and long-time close friend of Howell's, is also critical of the official account. Thursday Hess went into the store to look at the room where the shooting occurred -- a room he had been in many times, but he felt he should check certain things for himself. "I think it would have been physically impossible for both the ATF agent and Darryl to even fit behind the counter, let alone struggle there," he told WorldNetDaily. "And did you see in the autopsy report that one of Whiting's bullets was fired an inch away -- close contact. Yet the police review board said that was justifiable." "The whole thing is like a dead fish in the moonlight," said Hess. "It's shiny, it looks pretty, but it stinks to high heaven."

tenpercentfirearms
08-12-2007, 10:30 PM
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=16849

ARMED AND DANGEROUS
Who fired fatal shot?
Second autopsy, photos spell discrepancies in Taft shooting death

Posted: December 11, 1998
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Sarah Foster
© 1998 WorldNetDaily.com

Death scene: Indicator sign with #1 shows location of handgun.
TAFT, Calif. -- Any one of the four bullets found in his body could have caused the death of Taft gun store owner Darryl Howell killed in a federal raid, according to independent pathologist Richard Siegler, M.D., of Santa Cruz, Calif., who performed a second autopsy on the body of the deceased at the request of attorneys retained by the family. Though not disproving the official finding of suicide, Siegler's report inspires a deeper questioning of the government's account of the fatal shooting that occurred during an October raid on Howell's Alpha-Omega Surplus and Supplies, located near Taft, California -- a small community 37 miles southwest of Bakersfield.

In that scenario, Howell, 45, took his own life by shooting himself in the mouth with his own weapon to avoid being arrested on federal weapons law violations.

As retold by those present at the scene, two agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms entered Howell's store about 10:15 a.m., Oct. 7, accompanied by senior deputy Robert Bendel of the Kern County Sheriff's Department and Taft police Sgt. Ed Whiting. Howell was to be charged with selling machine guns on two separate occasions, to an informant about two years ago.

The ATF agents had federal search and arrest warrants. A large group of ATF agents and sheriff deputies waited outside.

Those who planned the raid had decided against a "dynamic entry," and the arrest was to be "low-key," since Howell was recognized as being a non-violent person.

Indeed, he made no effort to resist the officers' intrusion into his store, and stood quietly with his hands on his head while Whiting did a pat-down search for weapons. But when ATF agent Larry Williams attempted to handcuff him, Howell broke away and stepped into the narrow, crowded space behind a counter, government officials say. Williams tried unsuccessfully to stop him by wrapping his arms around him, but was no match for the much heavier Howell, who weighed over 300 pounds. Despite Williams hanging onto his back, Howell managed to grab one of his own guns, a loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic colt pistol he kept on a shelf, according to the official version.

Williams said he realized what was happening and yelled "Don't do it! Don't do it!" But Howell, who assumed a crouching position, put the barrel in his mouth -- covering the gun with both hands -- and pulled the trigger.

Whiting, fearing Williams had been shot, immediately pumped three rounds from his .40 caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol into Howell's back and right side. Carbon residue indicates one of the shots was a contact shot fired at extremely close range.

The entire incident was over within minutes.

The sheriff-coroner's office performed an autopsy. Forensic pathologist Donna Brown, M.D., found Howell's death to have been instantaneous and ruled it a "suicide." Brown reported the shots fired by Whiting occurred "post-mortem" (after death) -- hence the police officer was not responsible for the death.

A two-member shooting review board, comprised solely of Taft Police Chief Bert Pumphrey and Taft police Lt. Ken McMinn exonerated Whiting, finding his shots to be "justifiable."

That account of the tragedy has been adamantly rejected by Darryl Howell's family and friends. No one who knew him believes he would have committed suicide. His deeply held religious convictions would make that extremely unlikely. Howell, a devout Christian, believed suicide to be a sin.

To probe deeper into the matter, Howell's family hired Faulkner and Faulkner, a Bakersfield legal firm specializing in what James Faulkner calls "government abuse cases."

The first step in the investigation was to have a second autopsy performed. This took time, and the results were only recently sent to the attorneys. Kathleen Faulkner made a copy of the autopsy report available to WorldNetDaily.

Dr. Siegler presented his findings with an important disclaimer: namely, that the first autopsy after death "sees the condition of the body most similar to what it looked like while alive." At a second autopsy, the pathologist must work with a body that has been dissected, tissues cut, and relations altered.

Nonetheless, Siegler was able to determine that any of the bullets could have caused Howell's death.

In a summary Siegler writes that the three bullets (fired by Whiting) were fired "at very close range into the right side and right back. ... The organs had been previously dissected during the first autopsy; however, based on the location of the external wounds, any of them would likely have been fatal as they disrupted vital chest organs, including the heart, lungs and aorta (a major artery). ... All three projectiles came to rest within the body, and there were no exit wounds of the chest."

Describing the bullet from the gun reportedly fired by Howell, Siegler notes: "A single larger bullet entered the brain, fired through the back of the mouth. This wound also would have been fatal by itself. It's location is compatible with having been fired by the deceased. ... This projectile also came to rest within the skull. ... The overlying scalp, however, was not torn, and exerted sufficient elastic pressure to retain both the fractured portion of bone and the projectile."

So, despite the bullet being a large .45 caliber, it stayed within Howell's head, a finding that confirmed that of the county's pathologist.

"Each or any of these bullets would have caused death," Siegler concludes. "It is important to emphasize that, according to police reports, all shots were fired within a few seconds of each other. This information, together with the conclusion that death occurred immediately, indicate that no single bullet can be regarded as the one which produced death. There are no tissue changes I saw, grossly or histologically, which would indicate to the contrary. Bullets entering the chest producing entry wounds ... have a faint pink heat flash or track at their periphery. I interpret this to be due to direct heat effect of the skin which would have been independent of any action of the heart or necessity for blood pressure. For this reason, I believe that it is impossible to determine which single bullet caused death."

"If that is so," Kathleen Faulkner observes, "how can we be sure Whiting didn't shoot first, killing him, then Darryl's gun was fired into his mouth to cover up a botched raid? We simply don't know. It's one of several possible scenarios."

That, of course, is the question that's been on the minds of Howell's family and friends from the beginning. The new autopsy -- while not resolving the matter -- at least opens up possibilities.

Other evidence has come to light that serves to call into question the official account. Sitting at her desk, Kathleen Faulkner ponders over a set of photos obtained from the county -- some taken at Howell's store in Taft, others from the coroner's office. So many questions arise -- all crying out for answers.

Closeup of Howell's .45 caliber handgun as found beside body. No blood, no saliva, with safety on.
There's the matter of the clean gun. According to the Kern County Regional Criminalistics Laboratory, the bullet fragments retrieved from Howell's brain came from a colt .45 Mark IV handgun, serial number B20661. This was found on the floor beside his body. [See photo 1] Instead of pointing down -- which might be expected if it had been dropped by the victim himself -- it faces towards his head.

Even more significant, the gun -- which Howell had presumably held tight in both hands, then placed in his mouth as he pulled the trigger -- has absolutely no blood, saliva, and apparently no fingerprints on it. Swabs were taken of the muzzle and slide area of the gun. According to lab tests, "No saliva was detected on any of the swabs received for examination." And "although a very small amount of cellular-like material was microscopically present on the swabs ... this material did not give a positive human response."

"I don't see how this is possible," remarks Kathleen Faulkner. "How could the gun be so clean, unless it was wiped down?"

Sgt. Glenn Johnson of the Kern County Sheriff's Dept. explained that this is not extraordinary.

"It happens," he later told WorldNetDaily.

"Depending on the incident, sometimes we do, sometimes we don't have blood on the weapon," he said. "It depends a lot on the gun itself as far as how tight the gun is held when it's discharged. The tighter the gun is held and forced up against the point of contact, you'll have a bit more blowback [of blood] than you will if the gun is not held real tight."

This response is not likely to satisfy critics. Especially, when -- as Kathleen Faulkner points out -- there's not only a lack of blood and saliva, but the safety catch is on, as can be seen in the photo.

But the condition of the gun isn't the only problem the Faulkner's find with the official account.

"What about this wound over Darryl's eye," Kathleen Faulkner asks, studying another photo, this one from the county's autopsy.

Head injury suggests blow to head
Howell's head, shaved, shows a head injury of some kind.

tenpercentfirearms
08-12-2007, 10:30 PM
"Did someone hit him during a struggle?" she wonders. "It looks like it could be from a gun butt. Or perhaps it happened when he fell. Whatever it was, it certainly looks like it was inflicted externally, and we'd like to know what caused it."

More photos.

"Here, look at these." she says, then challenges, "Do you see anything funny about these pictures?"

Death scene, with Howell's body as it fell
In the first, Howell is shown lying on the floor in front of his desk -- there's a space between the desk and a small safe. In the next shot the safe has been pushed up against the desk.

"Someone's moved furniture," she points out. "They're not supposed to do that. So the question is, why did they? Who did it? How much more furniture was moved about like this?"

Asked about the apparent furniture moving, Sgt. Johnson told WorldNetDaily he'd have to review the photos, but "everything in them would be as it was when the investigators got there. We'd search for expended rounds and casings, but as far as the photographs showing the body still there, nothing was moved."

Johnson said that the search for spent casings would not be conducted until after the body was removed.

"It'll take a long time to get to the bottom of this case," Kathleen Faulkner says. "We're waiting to hear back on some tests. We've found definite holes in the official account, some things just don't make any sense -- these are just a few of them -- we have to sort everything out and put it together."

Sarah Foster is a staff reporter for WorldNetDaily.

GW
08-12-2007, 10:54 PM
So...
What has happened in the 9 years since this story was printed?

metalhead357
08-13-2007, 8:23 AM
So...
What has happened in the 9 years since this story was printed?

The question/issue came up in another thread.....................

Just as you said Ten..... I wasn't there & now only know what I've read. And with what I've read though the shoot 'seems' justified....somthing still smells slightly rotton.........I'd really like to think I'm wrong though.

M. Sage
08-13-2007, 5:24 PM
Hope you don't have a scooter "accident"!!! Watch your back, man. :shuriken:

hoffmang
08-13-2007, 5:48 PM
Someone should put a call in to Faulkner and Faulkner to find out final disposition of the family's suit.

-Gene

Pthfndr
08-13-2007, 5:50 PM
Interesting.

You know, there's a member - here or arfcom, I don't remember which - who goes by the name Whiting, and is LE somewhere in central CA.

Same one?

tenpercentfirearms
08-13-2007, 6:38 PM
What do you guys make of the picture of the Colt with its safety on?

tenpercentfirearms
08-13-2007, 6:58 PM
how can the safty be on with the hammer down

Bingo!

E Pluribus Unum
08-13-2007, 9:11 PM
It’s kind of interesting you bring this up.

I knew Darryl Howell
I know Ed Whiting
I know Dr. Peace
I was living in Taft at the time of the shooting. As a matter of fact I was at the barber shop across the street the day it happened although not at the time.

Darryl Howell:
The reason the whole town was "up in arms" over this situation was for the most part, everyone liked Darryl. He was a jovial person. I liked him; I was fairly young at the time of the shooting (20) and I used to go in and talk to him about handguns so that when I turned 21 I could buy it from him; I was going to on my birthday as a matter of fact. He was VERY helpful to his customers; to his own detriment I feel (discussed later).

Let me tell you about what the papers don't talk about. Darryl was the most gung ho- patriot militiaman self proclaimed freedom fighter out there. There are a lot of them in Taft; and were a lot more of them 10 years ago when this happened. If one went into his gun store he would talk about every able-bodied man being a "soldier in Christ" that must arm himself for the impending battle with the government. He felt that his constitutional rights were being violated and he was not going to stand for it. His opinions were not unlike many of us here and it is certainly the norm for Taft residents. I could ask Ed but I am sure that better than 90% of the trucks pulled over in Taft have some kind of firearm in them and there are lots of trucks.

Was he selling illegal guns? I don't think so... I will tell you later what I think he was doing.

Ed Whiting:
Ed Whiting has been on the Taft police department for a long time. I have hung out with him several times and I know him to be a good man. With regards to the OLL situation he and his chief like the fact that personal AR-15s are accessible again. I don't really feel comfortable releasing any details about our conversations on a public forum but let me just suffice it to say that I know enough about the man that he is a good man. He definitely has the "police officer" persona and attitude but when one's been on the job so long, its part of the package.

Dr. Peace:
I took a political science class at Taft College with this guy. This guy is the most liberal, tree hugging POS in Taft Kern County. In the news report he criticized Ed for shooting him in the Torso saying that the police should shoot an armed gunman in the leg. He does not believe that police should even have guns; after all, Britain does not have any. This guy is the King of liberals and should be scrutinized. He is very intelligent and that is a dangerous combination.

The Incident:
Let me preface this by saying: I HAVE NEVER SPOKEN TO ED WHITING ABOUT THE SHOOTING. It happened 10 years ago and at the very least he shot someone and it can be a touchy subject so I have avoided it.

That being said I know the following about the "official" account.

The ATF supposedly had a 4 year investigation on Daryl. He was supposedly selling fully automatic weapons. The ATF came to the Kern County Sheriff and the Taft PD and said basically "Hey, we are going to serve this warrant on this location" as is standard practice.

They were taking Daryl into custody when he got away from the arresting officer, ran in the building and grabbed his gun under the register. The ATF agent said "GUN, don't do it" at which time Ed spun around and shot Daryl three times. Just before Ed shot his first shot Daryl shot himself in the head with a .45.

Suspicion:
The suspicion lies in there was a few hour period between 10am when the warrant was being served and later that afternoon when the coroner removed the body. Some "weird" things at the crime scene made people speculate that the scene was staged. On top of this, no illegal weapons were ever found.

Rumors:
The rumor going around Taft shortly after the shooting was that Darryl asked if he could lock his register, and THAT’S when he pulled the gun. One version was that he pulled it to kill himself; the other was that he pulled it to shoot the police. The other rumor was that Darryl and Ed hated each other and had previous problems with each other. These things are just rumors and absent of relevant testimony they should not be considered.

The cover-up:
There are several things that don't add up. I am the first one to point out things about the government having too much power and people covering it up. Were I ever picked for a jury I would have to recuse myself because I am very leery of the patriot act and some of the other travesties on civil liberties that have occurred in recent years.

I do not trust the Taft PD shooting review board. Why? Not because they are dishonest but because it is a small town. Anyone from the big city does not understand how small towns work. There at the 332 club in downtown Taft there is a fight almost every night and the police don’t get called unless someone got shot or stabbed. I am sure there are more officers in LAPD that don’t know each other than do. This is not the case with Taft PD, or the city of Taft. There are very few in the town that have lived there for 10 years or more that everyone does not know. Now what if you were a police officer, on a shooting review board, where you’re good friend and colleague, the guy that you will call for backup if your butt is ever on the line, and you know he is a good cop. Are you going to punish him for shooting a bad guy even if the shooting was not justified? I say bad guy not because Darryl was a bad guy but in the stance that he was the perp… guilty or not, in a cop’s eyes, he’s the perp. It’s not the police’s job to determine guilt or constitutionality. They enforce the law regardless of their personal feelings (in theory).

In Defense:

I could see if the TPD or KCS did an investigation and it went south and someone died. I could see at least the possibility that the scene was staged. I do not believe so in this case. The ATF agent does not know Ed Whiting or the Sheriff Deputy. If Ed Whiting messed up why would the ATF agent lie to cover his butt? The ATF agent would be mad at Ed for messing up a 4 year investigation. If the ATF agent messed up then why would Ed Whiting and the KCS deputy lie to protect a fed they do not know? It just does not make any sense. Here is the key point. The coroner’s report stated that the fatal shot was a .45 caliber to the head. Ed Whiting’s three shots impacted post mortum. Furthermore they were not fatal injuries. Had he not been shot in the head he would have survived Ed’s shots.

What I think happened:

I think KCS and TPD knew nothing of Daryl and only went along for backup. I think Daryl was selling LEGAL guns and then helping the owners of said guns modify them post sale. Taft has a lot of rednecks (nothing wrong with that). Many of them would (and do) modify their weapons all the time for full auto spouting constitutionality and the like. Darryl was a nice enough guy that if a friend asked him to help him, he would have. I think his friends and good customers asked him to help them, he did, and when they got popped they turned over and said that Darryl sold them the gun already modified. The ATF then got a warrant and was a little rough on him. I don’t know if Darryl went to the gun to kill himself or kill the ATF agent; either way it does not matter, Darryl went for the gun. The better choice would have been to go to jail, bond out, and fight it in court. If you believe that Daryl had no part in his own death then you are saying that three sworn peace officers who did not know each other conspired to kill him for no other reason than he sold fully automatic weapons. Trust me, if they were going to do that they would have chose someone who sells meth to kids or some other crime like that. If full auto weapons were legal in California, Ed would be at the range with you having a good time. He is an avid outdoorsman and writes gun reviews for a magazine; he is not the zumboist by any means.

Closing:
In the end it was just a chain of unfortunate events that lined up perfectly and a man lost his life. It was a sad day for Taft and all that knew Daryl. If I blame anyone for the incident, I blame the ATF for making such a big deal without any real evidence, and Daryl for pushing it as far as he did. In death, Daryl taught me that it’s not worth dieing over; not yet. If things get too bad move to another state rather than break the law.

M. Sage
08-13-2007, 9:31 PM
I do not trust the Taft PD shooting review board. Why? Not because they are dishonest but because it is a small town. Anyone from the big city does not understand how small towns work. There at the 332 club in downtown Taft there is a fight almost every night and the police donít get called unless someone got shot or stabbed. I am sure there are more officers in LAPD that donít know each other than do. This is not the case with Taft PD, or the city of Taft. There are very few in the town that have lived there for 10 years or more that everyone does not know. Now what if you were a police officer, on a shooting review board, where youíre good friend and colleague, the guy that you will call for backup if your butt is ever on the line, and you know he is a good cop. Are you going to punish him for shooting a bad guy even if the shooting was not justified? I say bad guy not because Darryl was a bad guy but in the stance that he was the perpÖ guilty or not, in a copís eyes, heís the perp. Itís not the policeís job to determine guilt or constitutionality. They enforce the law regardless of their personal feelings (in theory).

I've lived in a small town in a state full of small towns so I know what you're saying, and I can't believe that they let local departments do their own shoot reviews. IIRC, the way it's done in Michigan is that the State Police investigate. I'm not sure what happens if it's MSP involved in a shoot, but IIRC, a local (usually county) agency does the investigation.

E Pluribus Unum
08-13-2007, 9:39 PM
I've lived in a small town in a state full of small towns so I know what you're saying, and I can't believe that they let local departments do their own shoot reviews. IIRC, the way it's done in Michigan is that the State Police investigate. I'm not sure what happens if it's MSP involved in a shoot, but IIRC, a local (usually county) agency does the investigation.

I am ignorant to the process... I assumed it was an internal investigation. I know that the Bakersfield Police Department shooting board is internal... I assumed Taft was the same.

aplinker
08-13-2007, 9:50 PM
Given this precedent, Wes, does it mean that, if you get shot in your store, we should refer to it as you getting the Taft?

We brought this up in another thread and I just did some research on it. Be sure to click the links for photos. Leave your comments.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=16765

Taft PD says shooting 'justified'
Professor, friend question official account

Posted: October 23, 1998
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Sarah Foster
© 1998 WorldNetDaily.com

Gun store owner Darryl Howell died instantly of a single gunshot wound to the head, according to the official autopsy report. The report cites the cause of death as "craniocerebral trauma due to tight contact gunshot wound to mouth." In other words, a gun was fired into his mouth and the bullet entered his brain. More specifically, a "large projectile" was fired through the roof of the mouth at a 45-degree angle. The bullet and three fragments "were retrieved from the inner cranial cavity." There was no exit wound. Howell, 45, died Oct. 7 during a mid-morning raid on his business, the Alpha-Omega Surplus and Supplies store, located near Taft, California -- about 37 miles southwest of Bakersfield. The raid -- a joint effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Kern County Sheriff's Department -- was part of a county-wide sweep of gun dealers alleged to be selling illegal weapons. In a related finding, a police shooting review board ruled Monday that Taft police Sgt. Ed Whiting was "within policy" when he pumped three slugs into Howell during the raid. The autopsy report gives details of Whiting's shots: a contact wound to his right back, a shot to his right upper back and a shot to his right lateral chest -- all were between his waist and shoulder. They have been ruled "justifiable" by the shooting review board. The board was comprised solely of Taft Police Chief Bert Pumphrey and Taft police Lt. Ken McMinn. Whiting, who had been on "administrative leave," has returned to duty. Pumphrey did not return WorldNetDaily phone calls, and he has been advised by city attorneys that he should restrict his comments due to pending litigation initiated by Howell's family. Both reports essentially reaffirm the official scenario of the incident, which has generated considerable skepticism from the public, especially among Howell's friends and relatives. According to the official account, two unnamed BATF agents, senior sheriff deputy Bob Bendle and officer Whiting entered the store about 10 a.m. As Bendle was trying to handcuff him, Howell -- who weighs 315 pounds -- broke away and ran behind the counter where he grabbed a loaded .45-caliber handgun. One of the BATF agents ended up on that side of the counter where he grabbed hold of Howell. The agent yelled "gun" and "don't do it" as the two struggled for control of the weapon -- but Howell was able to put the barrel of the gun in his mouth and fire. At that very instant, Whiting -- who was looking away -- whirled about and drew his own gun and fired the three shots into Howell's body. The autopsy report says that those three shots didn't kill Howell, because he was already dead. The report also says, however, that one of those shots was fired close range -- just an inch from the body. Because of that finding and certain inconsistencies in the official version of the incident, Harold Pease, professor of political science at Taft College, continues to challenge that account and presses for a full investigation. He detailed his concerns in a phone interview. "To me it doesn't matter if an autopsy shows the first bullet killed him," he said. "Whiting's intention was to try and kill somebody. He didn't fire at the knee. He deliberately put three bullets into the right side of Darryl's back. "It comes down to this: If you've got a grudge against a guy do you pull the trigger a little faster than if you don't? I think you do. Where was the other ATF agent? He has a weapon; Bendle has a weapon -- but nobody is firing except this one cop, and he gets three shots off and nobody else fires a single one. "This is something that needs to be looked into," Pease reiterated. "And it needs to be looked into by someone who isn't protecting the ATF and the Taft PD." Pease augmented his remarks by rhetorically posing several questions that have not been answered satisfactorily, and should be raised in any investigation:

"What was the Taft Police Department officer doing there?" Pease demanded. "Taft has no jurisdiction outside the city, and Darryl's shop is definitely in the county. It's well-known that Whiting has a grudge against Darryl -- why didn't he excuse himself? Why was he allowed to come along?"
"Why wasn't the body removed for seven hours after the shooting? That seems strange," he observed.
WorldNetDaily has obtained copies of the search warrant and the inventory of items taken. According to these, the search itself did not commence until 4:50 in the afternoon. That raises the question of what was going on in the store for six-and-one-half hours following the shooting.
"Why wasn't Darryl's mother notified of the death of her son until many hours later, until just before dark?" Pease asked.
WorldNetDaily has confirmed through a contact with the family that Howell's relatives were never formally notified of his death. His mother, Eunice, waited at the police barracades the entire day, anxious for some kind of word, knowing something drastic had happened, but not told what -- and all the time her son lay dead inside. Finally, at about 7:30, as the officers were beginning to leave, she asked if her son were dead. "Yes, I believe so, ma'am," one of them said. That was the only word she was given. To this day the family has not received official notification or condolence. Like Pease, Steven Hess, a Taft resident and long-time close friend of Howell's, is also critical of the official account. Thursday Hess went into the store to look at the room where the shooting occurred -- a room he had been in many times, but he felt he should check certain things for himself. "I think it would have been physically impossible for both the ATF agent and Darryl to even fit behind the counter, let alone struggle there," he told WorldNetDaily. "And did you see in the autopsy report that one of Whiting's bullets was fired an inch away -- close contact. Yet the police review board said that was justifiable." "The whole thing is like a dead fish in the moonlight," said Hess. "It's shiny, it looks pretty, but it stinks to high heaven."

M. Sage
08-13-2007, 10:44 PM
Lol, you've been Tafted.

tenpercentfirearms
08-14-2007, 6:49 AM
E Pluribus Unum, I pretty much agree with you. I don't see how Bob Bendel would want to cover any of those guy's rear ends if they just off and capped someone. I think you are dead on in saying if the ATF tried something, both Sheriff Bendel and Ed Whiting would not take a risk for the feds.

I don't think it is inconcievable that if you knew you were never going to own guns again and your life pretty much revolved around guns, you wouldn't have much to live for. However, I didn't know Daryl very well so I am not sure if he was that type of man. I am just commenting on what I think is plausable and even if Daryl wasn't that type of man earlier that morning, you have no way of knowing what you feel when you see the feds come in through your door with the local cops.

The one thing we can take from this whole incident is how crazy small town rumors are. You can hear this story told about 100 different ways if you were to go through town asking questions. Trust me, I hear about the "last gun shop in town" quite frequently.

I thought Pease was quite the opposite of liberal. He came across to me as a strict constitutionalist. I took his class in the fall of 1995.

Yeah, I don't think that safety was on. I have heard it is common that if the handgun is not held properly that the firearm won't function, so that would explain the decocked pistol. It is plausable that whoever wrote those stories heard "the hammer was not cocked" and wrote "the safety was on". I just noticed that was definitely something that didn't match up.

E Pluribus Unum
08-14-2007, 8:26 AM
I thought Pease was quite the opposite of liberal. He came across to me as a strict constitutionalist. I took his class in the fall of 1995.

Dr. Peace is a very intellegent man and he loves to argue. He would get into the debates all of the time and try to get under your skin. Its hard to tell what his core values are because many times he just likes to argue so if he knows where you stand on the issue he will choose the other side.

We would spend most of the time in class arguing about guns and gun rights; the part that gets me is when he starts saying that Ed should have shot Daryl in the leg.... this kind of mentality is crazy thinking.


P.S.
I took his class just before the shooting in 1997-98 school year.

rkt88edmo
08-14-2007, 9:49 AM
Interesting accounts, thanks EPU.

DVUSWAZ
08-14-2007, 10:18 AM
It’s kind of interesting you bring this up.

I knew Darryl Howell
I know Ed Whiting
I know Dr. Peace
I was living in Taft at the time of the shooting. As a matter of fact I was at the barber shop across the street the day it happened although not at the time.........



Here is what I have to say about it:

Darryl was a friend to me and many many others, including people who needed a place to stay. He was also friends with the Sheriff's Deputies and Taft Police Officers who regularly came into his shop and purchased guns, ammo etc etc. I also purchased many firearms from Darryl, including my AR-15 I currently carry here at the Taft PD. We all miss Darryl, he was a good guy, no doubt about it.


Here is the actual story, Darryl did not run away into the building, we were standing just in front of his counter when he broke free and ran behind the counter and grabbed a loaded .45 auto. (I was in the process of searching him for weapons.) ATF Agent grabs Darryl and I assist, but it was too late, Darryl and the agent fight over the gun in a very narrow very confined area. Darryl and I are both big boys and add to that the ATF agent and one can see there ain't much room to move around. The ATF agent has his hand on Darryl's .45 and so does Darryl, and they are fighting to control it. They have their backs to me. I have my gun out to protect the agent when a shot rings out. The agent fall off to the left over the counter as though he is shot, and Darryl is still standing up in front of me. I cannot see who is immediately shot and I am not going to let anyone else get shot by Darryl and his .45, so I shot Darryl 3 times with my Glock 22. The third shot I actually touched Darryl and he fell down. What I did not immediately know was that Darryl got his gun into his mouth (I was directly behind him and could not see this) and pulled the trigger. Sadly, Darryl was dead in an instant and his body did not know enough to fall down. When I touched him with the muzzle of my glock is when he fell down. The mass of .40 caliber bullets is not, and never has been, enough to knock any person down. All that is movie crap. Had the angle been just a little less, the bullet would have missed the base of his skull and travelled out the back of his neck and into my face. But by the grace of God we all go, even cops.

By the way, the Senior ATF Agent that first grabbed Darryl that fateful day, retired just after the incident with hearing loss in his right ear due to close proximety he was to the .45 when that first shot rang out.

As for the part aboput no illegal guns were found in Darryl's shop, this is untrue. An unregistered AK-47 type rifle was secreted into the counter which was full auto. An MAK-90 on bi-pod, also modified to shoot full auto was in a window over looking the counter we all did business at. It was locked and loaded with a Beta-C mag and 2 additional loaded Beta-C's right next to it. Any of you ever been into Darryl's shop, you would have never known the MAK-90 was there, but it was. You see Darryl keep a very large Confederate Flag posted on the wall in front of the window. His nickname was "Rebel", for those who remember Darryl, and the flag. That flag covered the window, are what I will tell you is really a machine gun nest of sorts. That same wall is backed by 2 liter Dr. Pepper bottles, filled with water, 3 deep, floor to ceiling, the entire width of the interior wall. Darryl lived in a room behind his shop and on his work bench was spools of Det chord and grenades is various states of being remanufactured. A .45 auto and one spare magazine were in every part of his room always within 6-7 feet of him at all times. (including his shower area) (Total of 8 additonal .45's.)

I think it is safe to say Darryl had a seige mentality.

Had we used a SWAT team to make entry, instead of the "Hi how are you, how is business today, low key approach we tried, I think there would have been a lot of dead SWAT cops. For what it is worth, Darryl's gun shop was only one of a total of 5 places they hit that day, the rest were hit with SWAT teams, Darryl's was the only one that wasn't. No one else was injured or killed and no other shots fired on the other four(4) places. I will tell all of you this, the reason I made the decision for a low key entry was so no one would get hurt, including Darryl. I liked Darryl. I just did not any reason to bust up his shop and embarrass him further. Make what you will of this, I will always carry with me this decision to make a low key approach as oppossed to a true SWAT high risk service.

As for the section marked "Rumors:"

True, all just rumors.

As for the shooting review board. The Chief and Capt. who held the review board would have hung my *** out to dry, legally and criminally, had I not done the right thing for the right reasons. It is as simple as that. Their review was based on the investigation by the Kern County Sheriff's Dept. and the District Attorney's office.


Interesting part about the ATF Agents and covering for them if I did not know them. True I did not know the ATF's Agents. True, I would not cover for them and I know they would not cover for me. I also had to go through their own internal affairs investigation of their agents actions from some hard nosed IA FEDS from the Falls Church Office. I can assure you they would not have covered up anything they found. As for my shots, they would have been fatal. My shots took out both lungs, the heart, and his throat. (180 PMC Starfire mushroomed to 82 caliber, X 3, will do that.)

Here is the real story about what Darryl was doing. Darryl was ordering Sten gun parts, minus the receivers, from and through a source in Shotgun news. He made the receivers out of common muffler pipe. (I still have one in the armory we took off a bad guy) Remember, the Sten gun was made for a very low cost during WWII by the British, and even easier to copy. Darryl needed the money. Darryl was a big man, 350 pounds at about 5-5 tall. He also had a big heart, I mean that physically. At his first autopsy, of the total 3 that were done, they found his heart was enlarged 2 1/2 times, and Darryl knew this. His previous girlfriend told the ATF IA guys, on tape, that Darryl suspected he was being investigated as early as the week before we went to his place. He also told his girlfriend that if we tried to arrest him he would not go out the door with them and try to take some of us with him. He cited his own poor health to her asa basis for this reasoning. (This would have been a nice peice of info to have had at the raid briefing, but alas, it was not to be.)

As for the lawsuit, one was never filed. The family did retain an attorney firm and conducted their own independent investigation, which included two(2) additional autopsies. They declined to file. The family wanted an end to it, as did I. (3 months of coverage in the Bakersfield Californian is enough for anyone, I can assure you.)

As for full auto weapons, I am for them, and I use them in my line of work, and I fully and intentionally support the second amendment and all of you in doing so. And yes, I would love to be with any of you on the shooting range doing just that.

My closing: I am a rangemaster at the Taft PD and support Ten Percent Firearms, their owners and agents all alike. (I also seem to buy a lot of guns there to for some strange reason......Wes is a smooth talking salesman type, LOL.....I also fully support the 2A and all of you who want or need to carry firearms. Darryl made a criminal mistake, most likely because he needed the money. This did not make him an evil person. No one wished him harm, certainly not me. I sorry for the way it turned out, and will forever carry with me the question of "High Risk - Dynamic entry" versus "low key" approach we took.

Only God knows that answer for sure.

Sgt. Whiting - Taft PD

DVUSWAZ
08-14-2007, 10:34 AM
I will also add that the investigation was done soley by ATF using an undercover agent to make a purchase of (2) unregistered handguns, and two(2) full auto 9mm British Sten guns. This was the basis for the search warrant and arrest warrant for Darryl and his shop.

DVUSWAZ
08-14-2007, 10:38 AM
Interesting.

You know, there's a member - here or arfcom, I don't remember which - who goes by the name Whiting, and is LE somewhere in central CA.

Same one?

True it is me - SgtWhiting

DVUSWAZ
08-14-2007, 10:40 AM
Bingo!

As I was tell Ten (Wes) On poorly fitted safety install on poorly gunsmithed .45's, this can happen, I have seen it many times in the past when I carried .45's. This was true on darryl's gun.

metalhead357
08-14-2007, 10:42 AM
I will also add that the investigation was done soley by ATF using an undercover agent to make a purchase of.......(2) full auto 9mm British Sten guns. This was the basis for the search warrant and arrest warrant for Darryl and his shop.


Ever the more interesting...... same time period(s) of the allegations of ATF shaving a 1/4" off a now rather infamous shotgun that got another & his family in deep do-do. Anyone know what happened to these alleged purchased said full auto guns?:confused:

DVUSWAZ
08-14-2007, 10:46 AM
Ever the more interesting...... same time period(s) of the allegations of ATF shaving a 1/4" off a now rather infamous shotgun that got another & his family in deep do-do. Anyone know what happened to these alleged purchased said full auto guns?:confused:

When ATF purchased them from Darryl, I'm sure they booked them into their property room, wherever that may be.

As for the guns seized in the raid at Darryl's, there was a list floating around the internet showing the actual return of search warrant and the guns, grenades, and other items they seized. It was a comprehensive list.

E Pluribus Unum
08-14-2007, 12:00 PM
Thank you for that; It is always better to hear it from the horse's mouth.

Before I met Daryl I had never even shot a gun outside of boy scouts. He was one of the ones that introduced me to the shooting sports; and to my conservative views on government and constitutional law.

I agreed with a lot of what he said. I do believe that the constitution supersedes state law and that the second amendment protects a citizen's right to purchase and or manufacture fully automatic weapons and any state law that prohibits it is unconstitutional. That is where my agreement ends.

I am not willing to break the law and risk my future for mere principal. I keep all of my weapons fully legal at all times because I hate jail and I love guns.
At the time that state law prohibits me from enjoying my hobby I will move to a better state.


P.S.
Welcome to the site... stick around for a while... :)

Here is what I have to say about it:

Darryl was a friend to me and many many others, including people who needed a place to stay. He was also friends with the Sheriff's Deputies and Taft Police Officers who regularly came into his shop and purchased guns, ammo etc etc. I also purchased many firearms from Darryl, including my AR-15 I currently carry here at the Taft PD. We all miss Darryl, he was a good guy, no doubt about it.


Here is the actual story, Darryl did not run away into the building, we were standing just in front of his counter when he broke free and ran behind the counter and grabbed a loaded .45 auto. (I was in the process of searching him for weapons.) ATF Agent grabs Darryl and I assist, but it was too late, Darryl and the agent fight over the gun in a very narrow very confined area. Darryl and I are both big boys and add to that the ATF agent and one can see there ain't much room to move around. The ATF agent has his hand on Darryl's .45 and so does Darryl, and they are fighting to control it. They have their backs to me. I have my gun out to protect the agent when a shot rings out. The agent fall off to the left over the counter as though he is shot, and Darryl is still standing up in front of me. I cannot see who is immediately shot and I am not going to let anyone else get shot by Darryl and his .45, so I shot Darryl 3 times with my Glock 22. The third shot I actually touched Darryl and he fell down. What I did not immediately know was that Darryl got his gun into his mouth (I was directly behind him and could not see this) and pulled the trigger. Sadly, Darryl was dead in an instant and his body did not know enough to fall down. When I touched him with the muzzle of my glock is when he fell down. The mass of .40 caliber bullets is not, and never has been, enough to knock any person down. All that is movie crap. Had the angle been just a little less, the bullet would have missed the base of his skull and travelled out the back of his neck and into my face. But by the grace of God we all go, even cops.

By the way, the Senior ATF Agent that first grabbed Darryl that fateful day, retired just after the incident with hearing loss in his right ear due to close proximety he was to the .45 when that first shot rang out.

As for the part aboput no illegal guns were found in Darryl's shop, this is untrue. An unregistered AK-47 type rifle was secreted into the counter which was full auto. An MAK-90 on bi-pod, also modified to shoot full auto was in a window over looking the counter we all did business at. It was locked and loaded with a Beta-C mag and 2 additional loaded Beta-C's right next to it. Any of you ever been into Darryl's shop, you would have never known the MAK-90 was there, but it was. You see Darryl keep a very large Confederate Flag posted on the wall in front of the window. His nickname was "Rebel", for those who remember Darryl, and the flag. That flag covered the window, are what I will tell you is really a machine gun nest of sorts. That same wall is backed by 2 liter Dr. Pepper bottles, filled with water, 3 deep, floor to ceiling, the entire width of the interior wall. Darryl lived in a room behind his shop and on his work bench was spools of Det chord and grenades is various states of being remanufactured. A .45 auto and one spare magazine were in every part of his room always within 6-7 feet of him at all times. (including his shower area) (Total of 8 additonal .45's.)

I think it is safe to say Darryl had a seige mentality.

Had we used a SWAT team to make entry, instead of the "Hi how are you, how is business today, low key approach we tried, I think there would have been a lot of dead SWAT cops. For what it is worth, Darryl's gun shop was only one of a total of 5 places they hit that day, the rest were hit with SWAT teams, Darryl's was the only one that wasn't. No one else was injured or killed and no other shots fired on the other four(4) places. I will tell all of you this, the reason I made the decision for a low key entry was so no one would get hurt, including Darryl. I liked Darryl. I just did not any reason to bust up his shop and embarrass him further. Make what you will of this, I will always carry with me this decision to make a low key approach as oppossed to a true SWAT high risk service.

As for the section marked "Rumors:"

True, all just rumors.

As for the shooting review board. The Chief and Capt. who held the review board would have hung my *** out to dry, legally and criminally, had I not done the right thing for the right reasons. It is as simple as that. Their review was based on the investigation by the Kern County Sheriff's Dept. and the District Attorney's office.


Interesting part about the ATF Agents and covering for them if I did not know them. True I did not know the ATF's Agents. True, I would not cover for them and I know they would not cover for me. I also had to go through their own internal affairs investigation of their agents actions from some hard nosed IA FEDS from the Falls Church Office. I can assure you they would not have covered up anything they found. As for my shots, they would have been fatal. My shots took out both lungs, the heart, and his throat. (180 PMC Starfire mushroomed to 82 caliber, X 3, will do that.)

Here is the real story about what Darryl was doing. Darryl was ordering Sten gun parts, minus the receivers, from and through a source in Shotgun news. He made the receivers out of common muffler pipe. (I still have one in the armory we took off a bad guy) Remember, the Sten gun was made for a very low cost during WWII by the British, and even easier to copy. Darryl needed the money. Darryl was a big man, 350 pounds at about 5-5 tall. He also had a big heart, I mean that physically. At his first autopsy, of the total 3 that were done, they found his heart was enlarged 2 1/2 times, and Darryl knew this. His previous girlfriend told the ATF IA guys, on tape, that Darryl suspected he was being investigated as early as the week before we went to his place. He also told his girlfriend that if we tried to arrest him he would not go out the door with them and try to take some of us with him. He cited his own poor health to her asa basis for this reasoning. (This would have been a nice peice of info to have had at the raid briefing, but alas, it was not to be.)

As for the lawsuit, one was never filed. The family did retain an attorney firm and conducted their own independent investigation, which included two(2) additional autopsies. They declined to file. The family wanted an end to it, as did I. (3 months of coverage in the Bakersfield Californian is enough for anyone, I can assure you.)

As for full auto weapons, I am for them, and I use them in my line of work, and I fully and intentionally support the second amendment and all of you in doing so. And yes, I would love to be with any of you on the shooting range doing just that.

My closing: I am a rangemaster at the Taft PD and support Ten Percent Firearms, their owners and agents all alike. (I also seem to buy a lot of guns there to for some strange reason......Wes is a smooth talking salesman type, LOL.....I also fully support the 2A and all of you who want or need to carry firearms. Darryl made a criminal mistake, most likely because he needed the money. This did not make him an evil person. No one wished him harm, certainly not me. I sorry for the way it turned out, and will forever carry with me the question of "High Risk - Dynamic entry" versus "low key" approach we took.

Only God knows that answer for sure.

Sgt. Whiting - Taft PD