Although she is a deputy with the Boulder County (CO) Sheriff’s Office and a member of A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League (AG & AG), Teri Javes does not describe herself as a firearms enthusiast. She is a mom to two daughters, a wife (they met in jail; he’s a deputy, too, not an inmate), a daughter, an animal lover, and never planned on working in law enforcement. She enjoys competing, so her husband encouraged her to try additional shooting sports. Teri could not have predicted that 3 Gun would one day help her survive an officer-involved shooting.
Intro to 3 Gun
In 2015, Teri and her oldest daughter attended AG & AG’s 3-Gun University in Raton, NM. The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office provides good firearms training; however, Teri recognized the value of the additional trigger time. “Our department shoots once every other month in addition to qualifying twice a year,” says Teri. “That translates to approximately 450 rounds in our handguns and 450 rounds through our rifles in a year, which is not much.”
Teri competed in only three 3 Gun matches before her shooting skills were tested in the utmost way.
On August 10, 2016, at approximately 1700 hours Teri was clearing a call. She was getting ready to head back to the Sheriff’s Office headquarters to finish some paperwork and end her shift at 1800 hours. A call was aired about a man walking northbound on the southbound side of Hwy 287 with a gun in his waistband making threatening gestures to the oncoming traffic. Although Colorado is an open carry state, dispatch had received several calls about the aggressive and threatening behavior this man was demonstrating and there was significant concern.
“It wasn’t my district, but I was the closest unit on duty so I took the call,” Teri recalls. As she approached, she was flagged down by a passerby who told her that there was a man on the side of the road with a gun in his hand and he was flashing it while yelling at the cars that were driving by. Teri says, “The fact that he now had the gun in his hand instead of in his waistband told me he was getting more agitated and could be getting ready to use it.”
The last reported location of the suspect was much further south of Teri’s position. She drove forward and notified dispatch of this new information. She saw him about 60 yards away with a pistol in his hand. She updated dispatch with her location and that she was in contact, automatically activated her lights, and stopped approximately 50 yards from the subject.
“I opened my car door while pulling my handgun out of its holster. Exiting the vehicle I saw the man bring the gun up, point it at me as he continued walking towards me, and fire the gun,” Teri remembers. “The bullet from his gun shattered my driver’s side window as I stood behind it. I was able to fire one shot from my handgun as I ducked down taking cover and calling out ‘shots fired’ on my radio.”
Teri looked up and saw the man still walking towards her, firing his gun at her again. She fired twice more, and then ducked down again, taking cover. She quickly peeked over the driver’s side door and through her shattered driver’s window, and discovered that the man was gone.
Teri was parked southbound on Hwy 287 on the shoulder of the road, so the only direction the suspect could have traveled was to the west or north. She could see that traffic was congested, but still flowing, and she could also see approximately two miles to the south in front of her vehicle. A farmhouse and barn, the only structures for miles, were to the west of where she was parked. She was afraid the suspect was continuing to move around to the west side of her vehicle to shoot her from behind.
“I moved to the back of the vehicle in a crouch to keep some sort of cover between us while I tried to locate him by looking through the bottoms of my vehicles windows,” says Teri. While moving she performed a tactical reload placing the partial magazine in her back left pocket. She was carrying a single stack 1911 .45, with mags that only held 10 rounds. “While backing up, I watched in front of me to make sure he didn’t pop up from hiding in front of my vehicle. Then I looked behind me as I cornered the back of my vehicle to make sure he didn’t circle around my vehicle. I peered out from the back of my vehicle on the passenger side, and saw the man was hiding behind a pillar in the driveway of the house approximately 45 yards from me.”
The suspect leaned out from behind the pillar and shot at Teri again. She was able to fire another shot before taking cover again. She tucked behind her vehicle and called out more information into her radio to dispatch. She peered out again and fired two more shots at the suspect, who returned fire and then ducked back behind the pillar.
Teri thought, “This is not working for me.” It was time to transition to her rifle.
She worked her way back to the driver’s side of the vehicle, in a crouch, telling dispatch that she was going to deploy her rifle. While trying to keep an eye on the assailant’s location and maintaining some sort of cover, she pulled her AR from the rifle mount located from between the two front seats of her patrol vehicle. She worked her way back around to the rear of the vehicle in a low crouching position to the passenger-side quarter panel of the unit. With her rifle at a low ready as to not telegraph her position, Teri peered out to the location where she last saw the suspect. He was no longer in sight.
Teri began loudly calling out commands, “Come out with your hands up!” “Show me your hands!” “Drop the gun!”
She kept looking to the west to make sure he was not coming around to her. After several commands and not getting any response Teri wanted to make sure he was still behind the pillar. She was concerned that he may have gone into the house, which could have created a whole different set of problems. She decided to use the scope to look for him, so she brought the rifle up, with a hasty C-clamp braced on the “D” pillar of her vehicle.
“I saw what looked like the heel of the suspect’s foot move from behind the pillar,” Teri recalls. At this point he had fired numerous (later determined to be six) rounds at her and towards one of the three busiest highways in Boulder County during rush-hour traffic, and disregarded her attempts of getting him to comply with her commands.
“I took a shot at his heel. This shot did not hit the suspect, but it did make him back up exposing his torso from his shoulders to his hips. I loudly called out more commands for him to come out with his hands up. He did not comply and was a continuing threat.”
Teri took two quick shots with her rifle braced off the “D” pillar of the patrol vehicle. One of the bullets hit the assailant in the lungs, nicking part of his heart, and the other shattered his pelvis. This caused him to lose all balance, falling backwards. Teri watched as the gun flew out of his hand and away from his body.
“With my rifle up and on target, I told him to keep his hands up,” says Teri. “While watching his empty hands in the air, I advanced on him giving further commands to keep his hands up and get on his stomach. While moving forward I contacted dispatch advising that the suspect was down, had been hit twice, and to send medical.”
The man eventually complied by rolling onto his stomach. Teri angled around him near his feet, keeping him at rifle point. She picked his handgun up off the ground and secured it. She told him to put his hands behind his back. She held her position as her backup arrived, screeching to a stop, and jumping out of his vehicle to assist her in handcuffing the suspect. Shortly after, the man was taken into custody and transported to the hospital, where he died due to his injuries. After a comprehensive investigation, the Boulder District Attorney’s office determined that the shooting was legally justified.
From start to finish the incident lasted only six minutes.
“My experiences in 3 Gun helped me survive my officer-involved shooting,” acknowledges Teri. “My comfort with my weapons, knowing their capabilities and mine, kept me calm and focused.” She credits 3 Gun competition with her ability to make efficient magazine changes because she was able to process that she had shot multiple rounds, knew that she would need a full magazine while moving to the next contact, and was able to perform the reload automatically.
Teri was also easily able to transition to her rifle after making the mindful decision that the handgun was not her best option at that distance, knowing that her rifle with a scope was needed for an accurate snapshot at a fleeting target at 45 yards. She credits Denise and JJ Johnson from Rocky Mountain 3 Gun for their training at AG & AG’s 3-Gun University on searching for small targets with her optic so that her sight picture was instinctive.
“Moving and shooting kept me alive,” says Teri. “The ability to see a threat/target and a secure brace against my patrol vehicle to make quick, accurate shots was imperative.”
The lessons learned from 3 Gun competition reinforced her mechanics and mindset, so that Teri was able to concentrate on the problem at hand, keep calm, communicate effectively with dispatch, and most importantly, stop the threat.
In 2018, Teri was awarded the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery by the U.S. Attorney General in recognition of her courageous acts in the line of duty.