Shoot-Out with Terrorists!
by Barbara Foley
Deputy Sheriff Bob Outman drove along the San Francisco Peninsula that dark night in February, 1976. He could not guess then
that the Patty Hearst trial would cost him his job. Nor could he know that Patty would spend many hours in his home, brushing
and playing with Arrow, the dog he would train for her. These things happened as a result of a "routine patrol".
It was Friday the thirteenth and the night of a full moon. This did not concern Bob as he turned onto Highway 280. He was not
a superstitious man. He had even forgotten about Patty and the many bomb threats connected with her case which kept Bob and fellow
officers busy. Patty was imprisoned in San Mateo County where Bob worked.
A handsome man of thirty-two, six-feet-one, with reddish wavy hair and a boyish grin, Bob was also a family man. He spent much
of his time with his wife and two children in church activities. In addition, he loved his work with police dogs. On his own
time he trained dogs for private citizens.
Bob's dog Prince, one of the top bomb-detection dogs in the country, rode in the back seat of the patrol car, licking Bob's neck
and making him laugh. The dog acted like a puppy despite his seven-year age. As they continued along the highway, they
approached a major Pacific Gas and Electric
tower above Edgewood Road. A flickering light on the hill suddenly alerted Bob. He focused his spotlight on the area. A figure
in a hooded parka stood out against the blackness of the night. Bob was a man with a compulsion for checking out unusual
situations. He decided to investigate. He turned off the freeway, losing his view of the person, and parked below the hill near
an empty red Toyota. Then he radioed his position to headquarters and left his car.
Unknown to Bob, during that hour, the New World Liberation Front sent a threat of further violence to the San Francisco
Chronicle. The terrorists demanded $250,000 from the Hearst family because of their anger at Patty's trial testimony.
At Edgewood Road, when nothing seemed unusual about the Toyota, Bob turned his attention to the figure somewhere on the hill.
Many reasons occurred to Bob for the individual's presence up there. The hilltop near the tower with its oak trees and thick brush
provided a secluded area which lovers frequented. People sometimes climbed the hill to enjoy the view. Still, Bob wanted to check
out the situation. He began struggling up the hill. Prince, whose blackness blended with the night, followed at Bob's side. The
dog seemed keyed up. A few soft growls broke the stillness of the evening.
As Bob moved upward, he swept the hill with his flashlight. The hooded figure, now clearly a man, again appeared in the half light
near the fence which bounded the PG&E property.
Bob yelled, "Police, I want to talk to you."
"I'll come down," the man answered.
He seemed cooperative. There couldn't be anything too wrong. Nevertheless, Bob wanted to see for himself.
"I'll come up," he hollered and resumed his climb up the hill with Prince. After a few yards the man unexpectedly darted up the
hill into the darkness. Bob stopped! Something was wrong! Probably a "crazy". Bob was worried. He had to make a decision. He
could return to his patrol car and radio for help. But then the fellow might escape. If he had committed a crime, Bob wanted to
capture him. Also, if he moved down the hill the man might shoot Bob in the back. The safest police procedure would be to
approach, keeping the subject in view, if possible.
Bob decided to proceed. He climbed the fence. Prince leaped it, then immediately veered to the left out of heel position
toward a clump of trees. Unknown to Bob, Prince had scented a second man in the trees.
"Heel", Bob ordered. He turned toward his dog. A movement he would think about later. At that very moment a shot rang out. The
bullet exploded through Bob's shirt, across his chest, into his right arm. The slug sent his arm into the air like an arrow;
then it hung limply at his side. It felt on fire.
Prince, trained to attack at the sound of a shot, raced to the trees. Instantly a second shot rang out from the ambush. It
struck Bob in the left leg, forcing him to the ground. At the same time Prince reached the hidden attacker. Bob could hear his
dog tearing up the brush as he snarled and fought with the gunman. The assailant moaned.
Bob painfully wrenched his body around so his left hand could reach his gun. He commanded Prince to return to remove the dog from
the line of fire. Bob emptied his weapon into the trees. The sound of return bullets shattered the air. Fear and panic gripped
Bob. He felt alone and helpless on that isolated hill. He could feel blood oozing out of him. His body began to shiver. He had
only his dog to protect him from two men who seemed determined to kill him.
He refused to give up. Bob put his gun down. His right arm remained paralyzed. With his left hand he slowly swiveled his belt
around so he could pull the bullets out one at a time. They fell uncontrollably out of his hand to the ground. He picked them up,
awkwardly reloading his revolver. The shooting from the ambush stopped. The brush crackled as the gunman apparently moved to
another position. Prince leaped around, barking wildly and running in wide circles to protect Bob.
Bob fired into the air, hoping to attract someone's attention. Then he struggled up the hill towards the shelter of trees near
the tower. He fell again. The clouds shifted so that the moonlight now streamed down on him. The light also revealed a plastic bag
attached to the tower.
Pain raged through Bob's body. He almost passed out. Two men moved toward him. Prince vaulted toward them, but quickly jumped back
towards Bob, then repeated these actions. The dog kept the men at a distance from Bob, too far to shoot accurately. They could
not aim at the dog because of his constant motion. They ran back into the trees.
In the sheriff's office, the dispatcher tried vainly to contact Bob on his patrol radio. Finally he called two deputies who
patrolled near the tower area. He told them to check on Outman.
Fifteen minutes later, at the hill, they found Outman shot. When officers at the stationheard the report from the patrol unit,
they ran to the locker room where a friend of Bob's, Mike Kerr, changed into his uniform to begin his patrol. Mike helped Bob
train police dogs and give demonstrations for school children. "Get going," the officers yelled to Mike, "Bob's been shot."
It seemed an eternity to Bob as he lay on the hill, passing in and out of consciousness. A siren in t he distance jarred him.
The next thing he knew, several officers leaned over him, including Mike Kerr.
"Take it easy", Mike said, "you'll be alright; the ambulance is coming." Bob moaned with pain and went into deep shock. There was
no sign now of the terrorists, or of the red Toyota. They had escaped into the night while Bob lay unconscious.
An ambulance arrived and took Bob to Sequoia Hospital where doctors placed him in intensive care. They fought to bring him out
of shock; to discover the extent of nerve damage to his arm. The bone had been shattered by hollow point bullets which had
exploded into small pieces inside his flesh, too close to nerves for removal.
While doctors ministered to Bob, swarms of sheriff's and FBI cars converged at the Edgewood tower. They found black tape
holding a torn empty plastic bag to the tower. Tests later confirmed that the bag had contained explosives. A bomb had been removed!
Bob had prevented the bombing of the tower, which could have cut off power to hospitals, to life-support systems in homes, schools
Within a few days an editorial in a local paper proclaimed that Deputy Outman's alert patrolling accomplished "what higher
powered investigative work devoted to bomb cases failed to do."
At the hospital, however, Bob's life remained in jeopardy. It seemed he would live despite his wounds, but as he lay in
intensive care, the New World Liberation Front made a bomb threat against his life. "We're going to finish off your man", a
telephone voice promised.
This frightening event upset the Outman Family along with the doctor's bad news. "I'm sorry," he said to Bob's wife Kathy, "but
frankly, we're lucky Bob is alive. That bullet would have hit his heart if he hadn't turned at that instant to call his dog."
He shook his head. "Mrs. Outman, the truth is, your husband has suffered permanent nerve damage. He'll never return to
The yellow color of the room seemed to close in on Kathy. She felt clammy and faint. She knew how much Bob's work meant to him,
and also to their family. What would happen to them all?
It seemed that the world was coming down on the Outmans.
When Bob returned home for several months of recuperation on crutches and his arm in a heavy cast, he fell into a severe
depression. The metal fragments in his arm caused continual pain. He despaired about his loss of work. He feared that the
terrorists would continue their efforts to hurt him or his family.
One evening, he tried to climb the stairs from their family room to the kitchen; he felt too weak to make it; his fears finally
overcame him. He wondered if he would ever be able to function normally. He could no longer keep up his courage. The tears
ran down his cheeks.
A visiting officer seemed embarrassed and turned away. That was Bob's low point. Later he said, "When you're that low, there is
nowhere to go but up!"
During the next few weeks he decided to concentrate on the good things in life. His family. His many friends who had rallied
around him, visiting and offering support.
Gradually Bob's wounds healed, though the shooting left him with a thirty percent disability in his right arm. His friend Mike
Kerr helped Bob continue his dog training. Then a group of people who had had dogs in his training classes offered to help Bob
expand his training business and to pull out of his depression.
About this time Patty Hearst had been convicted and sentenced to jail, but released on bail while her lawyers tried for an
appeal. Her life was then in constant jeopardy as terrorists made many threats. Her family heard about Bob, his experience and
his skills as a dog trainer. Patty decided she would like a dog as a pet and protector. The family contacted Bob.
Bob selected Arrow, a golden and black German Shepherd with a gentle disposition. He trained the dog for several weeks; then
told the Hearsts it was time for Patty to become acquainted with Arrow and take over the training.
Patty visited Bob's family every day for about two weeks, for approximately two hours each time. She brushed her dog daily,
sitting on the floor with Bob's children and laughing as she played with Arrow. Gone was the girl who had entered the San Mateo
Jail with fist in a salute to the "power of the people".
Often Patty would sit at the dining room table with Kathy sipping coffee and talking about everyday events. "She seems like
a very nice girl," Kathy said, "Quiet and easy going."
Each week, on Saturdays, Patty would also attend Bob's dog-training class with housewives, business men and other community
people. She blended in, talking and smiling with the other dog owners. At first, though, Arrow's allegiance still belonged to
Bob. Once when Patty gave her dog a "down" command, the dog quickly obeyed but turned his back to her to face Bob. Gradually, they
made the transition. Arrow began to run to Patty, wagging his tail when she appeared in the Outman's home. At the end of two
weeks Patty gave Arrow a bath and took her home with her.
As Patty was trying to pick up the pieces of her life, so was Bob. He could finally look at his framed commendations, including
a few new ones for his experience on the hill, without feeling deep depression over the loss of his job. Both he and Prince had
retired from the department by then. Prince had won the Gold Medal Award for Bravery.
Besides training dogs for private citizens, Bob continues to train dogs for police agencies all over America. He also teaches
courses on police-canine management at the local community college, lecturing to police officers on how to use their dogs
effectively. Bob has plans for building a boarding kennel and establishing a dog-training center. But obstacles continue to arise.
Still, he maintains his courage as he struggles to rebuild his life.