Shootout with a Mountain Lion
Shortly after midnight, October 3, 1972, Roosevelt City Officer Lynn McClure responded to a disturbance call at the Driftwood Lounge. Riding with Officer McClure was Duchesne County Deputy Sheriff Denton Crozier. Trooper Duane Richens had just finished booking a drunk driver into the Roosevelt City Jail when he also monitored the call and proceeded to the Driftwood. When Officer McClure and Deputy Crozier arrived at the Driftwood parking lot they did not see anything out of the ordinary. As they exited the police car a drunk Indian stepped out the front door brandishing a German Luger pistol. The Indian yelled, “I’m going to kill me a white cop.” He then immediately began firing on the two officers. The two officers dove for cover as the Indian continued to fire into the front of the patrol car.
As Trooper Richens arrived on the scene he could hear gunfire. In the shadows of the Driftwood Lounge, he could see the muzzle flash from the barrel of the Indian’s weapon. He could not see Officer McClure or Deputy Crozier. Trooper Richens stopped approximately 40 feet from the Indian. He exited his patrol car and drew his .357 magnum revolver.
Trooper Richens had been a member of the UHP pistol team for several years. His training immediately took over. As he took a steady rest across the top of his patrol car, his focus shifted to the front sight. At the same time, the Indian looked at Trooper Richens and began to swing the barrel of his weapon towards the trooper. Trooper Richens applied trigger squeeze. As his weapon recoiled in his hands, he continued to follow through with the trigger pull. Immediately the Indian fell to the ground. Although the entire incident occurred in a fraction of a second, it appeared in slow motion to Trooper Richens, due to a distortion of time which is common during traumatic incidents. Trooper Richens was certain that he had struck the suspect directly in the chest.
As Trooper Richens walked to where the Indian lay, he was surprised there was no sign of blood. He looked closer for an entrance wound. Within a few seconds the Indian began to cough and regained consciousness. Trooper Richens quickly took him into custody.
A careful examination of the Indian’s pistol answered many questions. Trooper Richen’s bullet had struck the front barrel where it comes in contact with the slide. The bullet had then glanced off the German Luger, passed through the right shoulder of the suspect’s jacket, and struck the side of Harmston’s Barber Shop, immediately adjacent to the Driftwood.
At 25 yards, a .357 magnum round produces approximately 350 foot pounds of energy. Most of this energy was transferred to the Indian’s weapon upon impact. The force drove the weapon back into his chest and knocked him unconscious for a few seconds. This lucky Indian recovered without any major injuries. He was charged with aggravated assault. His name was Arthur Mountainlion. Thus it can be said that Trooper Duane Richens shot a Mountainlion on the streets of Roosevelt.
On November 8, 1972, Thelma McClure, wife of Officer McClure, wrote Commissioner Raymond Jackson. She stated, “Trooper Richens coming upon the scene could see fellow officers were in trouble. Being the man and officer that he is, he put their safety before his own and fired at the Indian…… I’m sure that if Duane hadn’t been there and doing what he did the two officers would have been killed.” The letter concluded, “I do not know whether the Highway Patrol gives citations or medals for saving lives but if they do I would like to recommend one for Trooper Richens for saving the life of my husband and Deputy Sheriff Crozier. This is a debt we will never be able to repay, but are mighty thankful for Trooper Richens.”