It is fitting that Al Glock's story is finally being told during the Easter season, because the Fort Wayne Police sergeant is convinced that what happened to him and three family members in a grocery parking lot 12 years ago is a testament to faith, rebirth, angels and, perhaps most of all, miracles.
“Taking somebody's life is not a pleasant thing, but God's timing is perfect, and there's a reason he puts us in situations,” said the 66-year-old Glock, 33-year veteran whose life-and-death confrontation with 41-year-old Eric Thomas on Oct. 26, 2002, was front-page news at the time – and, he hopes, will give inspiration and strength to others now, thanks to his forthcoming appearance on a nationally syndicated TV program.
Glock was off duty that night when he went to the Scott's Foods store at 4522 Maplecrest Road with wife Le-Ann, daughter Molly and niece Leah to cash a check. That's when he saw a “ratty looking” car parked near the door, the cigarette-puffing driver slouched down in the seat.
Suspecting trouble, Glock entered and noticed a man with several large bulges visible beneath his baseball jacket. Glock displayed his badge and said, “I want to talk to you.”
Thomas told Glock to get out of the way, and the two men grabbed each other and rolled out the door and into the parking lot, where Glock's family was in a van 20 feet away. Thomas – 11 years younger and 60 pounds heavier – struck Glock with two of the 10 bottles of whiskey hidden beneath his jacket and grabbed the officer's 9mm automatic pistol.
As the two struggled, Thomas held the Glock to Glock's head, shouted, “I'll fix you!” and fired, with the bullet tearing a crease through Glock's scalp.
“Now I know it's him or me,” Glock recalled. So he pulled the gun closer to him to gain control and cried out, “God help me now.” Glock was able to grab the pistol and toss it safely away, while Le-Ann stood nearby also invoking divine intervention: “In Jesus' name, I command you to leave my husband alone!”
But Thomas continued the attack, hitting Glock in the head with another bottle before walking to the van and attempting to smash its windows with still another bottle and a parking lot sign anchored in concrete.
So, bleeding profusely, Glock retrieved his weapon and pulled the trigger. But the spent shell had jammed the mechanism, and the gun would not fire.
With the screams of his 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old niece in his ears, Glock cleared the jam and fired three times. When the man known as “Biggie” because of his size refused to stop – Glock suspected he was wearing a bullet-proof vest, but it was later revealed that he had consumed both alcohol and cocaine -- Glock pulled the trigger three more times. And this time Thomas went down, for good.
Following the incident, he said, his family members were comforted by a woman believed to be a Scott's employee. Only after Glock tried to find and thank her did he learn that no employee matched the family's description. Call it mistaken identity if you like, but Glock has another explanation.
“There were three miracles that night,” said Glock, who became a Christian in 1974. “I got the gun away from him, he never challenged my wife, and there was that woman. Ask me if I believe in angels.”
And so he will talk about prayers answered on “Restoration Road” hosted by Pastor Mitch Kruse. If that name sounds familiar, it should: Kruse's family was famous for its annual classic-car auction in Auburn, but a series of financial and legal problems caused him to seek his own restoration by entering the ministry.
Glock still becomes emotional when remembering that night, but don't mistake tears for remorse.
“Taking a life is horrible. But he made that decision, I didn't,” said Glock, who spent four hours in the hospital, returned to work within three weeks and was cleared of any wrongdoing. He did what he did – and would do it again if necessary -- to enforce the law and to protect himself and his family.
Even so, the aftermath was not always easy. The girls experienced nightmares; Thomas' family filed an unsuccessful lawsuit. But, ultimately, the ordeal brought Glock's family together and strengthened Glock's faith.
“You can't go through something like that and not be changed in a positive or negative way. God has a miraculous way of making bad things good, and I have a peace that passes all understanding,” he said.
And perhaps that's why Glock was in that parking lot: So he could inspire others to endure and overcome their own challenges. Maybe it even explains why a TV show taped before last Thanksgiving is airing only now, as Christians celebrate the ultimate victory over sin and death.