911 Tapes Provide Some Answers in Oregon Murder, Self Defense Shooting

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On 21 October, 2018, Tyler Herrick entered his neighbor’s house, uninvited.
Kyle Adams woke to find Herrick in his bedroom. He is said to have told Herrick to leave, and that Herrick did so.  Herrick and Adams were both 33-years old.

Adams called his roommate, Brennan Pebbles, who is 31 years old. Pebbles left work and came to the house.

While roommates Adams and Pebbles were talking in the front room, Herrick came back with an AR-15 type rifle, shot through the front window and killed Kyle Adams. Pebbles ran upstairs to access his 9mm self defense pistol.

Herrick shot out the window near the front door, entered, and hunted Pebbles.

Pebbles, using his 9mm pistol, shot and mortally wounded Herrick as Herrick entered the master bedroom.

The murder and self defense shooting were described in an Ammoland article about differences in mindset between armed  and unarmed people.

The audio tapes of the 911 call made by Brennan Pebbles have been released. They contain considerable information that answers some of the questions about the incident. Some things may never be known. The investigation of possible motives for Herrick is ongoing. Herrick was never in trouble with the law and had no history of violence. He acted normally up to a couple of hours before the shooting. Toxicology tests have not come back from the laboratory yet.

You can listen to the 911 call here. Some operating systems may need to listen to a second part here. In my system, both parts played at the first link. The two calls total just under 9 minutes.

Adams said Herrick had broken into the house. He had chanted numbers and gibberish. Adams did not recognize him.

Pebbles did not recognize him during the gunfight.

Brennan Pebbles called 911 after he had shot Herrick and neutralized the threat. It was probably wise to concentrate on immediate defense while being hunted, instead of dividing his attention between the 911 dispatcher and defending himself.

It makes sense to call 911 to get help on the way, but tactical considerations should override that policy. In this case, with multiple shots being fired outside and inside the house, it is likely third parties had called 911 as well.

Pebbles showed a clear understanding of how 911 calls work. I suspect he had received training or had been self-educated. When he calls 911, he gives his location first. Then the dispatcher asks for it a second time.

The 911 call illustrates the uncertainties that exist in many self defense situations. When he calls 911, Pebbles does not know if the third roommate is in the house or not, or if he has been wounded or killed. He does not know who Herrick is. He does not know if Herrick had another gun or other weapon.

The call shows it is important give the defenders description and location to the police. Pebbles did not have anyone to help him. If help is available, they can meet the police and bring them to the scene, to help them identify the defender and suspect. This is particularly useful if the defender is holding a suspect at gunpoint.

Police do not know who is who. A man with a gun is considered a potential threat.

Brennan Pebbles showed a concern for other threats and the desire to preserve evidence. He did not search the suspect, Herrick, for another weapon, but he was concerned about the possibility. That was wise. He was concerned about moving Herrick to be able to get out the door. Those concerns were recorded on the 911 call.

Pebbles was worried about the possibility of being shot by the responding officers. He asks for, receives,  and follows instructions very carefully. It is a tense situation. Two people have been shot. The police, understandably, are careful and cautious.

One technological innovation shines in this situation. It is the ability to transfer contact from the dispatcher to the officers on the scene. This allows the caller to communicate with the officers on the scene, directly, by telephone.  In this case, it allowed Pebbles to explain to the officer why he could not exit from the front door. The door lock has been damaged when it was shot by Herrick.

The ability to transfer a 911 call directly to responding officers is a capability that should be implemented everywhere. It has the potential to save lives.

Everything you say on 911 is recorded and can be used against you in a court of law. If you have help, it may be wise to have them call 911, explain what is happening, and what has happened. Be careful what you say whenever you talk to police. At the same time, it is best to be cooperative and to make sure police do not miss important evidence. Calling 911 is itself evidence of intent to be responsible and to follow the law.

In this case, all physical evidence was consistent with the information Brennan Pebbles gave on the 911 call.  Pebbles was remarkably restrained, precise, and careful in his choice of words.

Brennan Pebbles likely thought about how to handle a self defense 911 call before it happened. In an emergency, people seldom rise to the occasion. Instead, they fall to the level of their training.

Thinking about potential situations, and playing the “what if” game is a form of self-training.

The 911 call in this case from Bend, Oregon, is worth the time spent listening to it. It will help people understand the dynamics of the aftermath of a self defense shooting.

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