Police Major Joseph Spiess was among department brass who hit the streets after a particularly violent night this week, to help look for trouble.
He found some, and it almost killed him.
Spiess was among about a dozen top commanders helping supplement patrols Tuesday night after 19 people were wounded in eight incidents the night before.
By the time the shift ended, there would be two close calls for officers and one embarrassing mistake.
Spiess, 52, was alone, in uniform, driving an unmarked Chevrolet Impala about 9:22 p.m. when he spotted a suspicious-looking black Pontiac Bonneville with temporary license tags on Evans Avenue, heading west near Vandeventer Avenue.
He said he made a U-turn to follow, and the Pontiac’s driver would not stop for his lights and siren. The circumstances did not qualify under rules limiting pursuits, so he gave up at Evans and Sarah Street.
As Spiess continued along Evans, a man jogged slowly toward him and stopped between parked cars about 12 feet away.
“He looks me dead in the eye, lifts his pistol and starts shooting at me,” Spiess said Wednesday. “The first round sounded like a shotgun went off in my car. Then I heard a high-pitched whine go through the (open) driver’s side window and out the passenger window.
“He looked at me square in the face, I’m in an Impala, wearing a police shirt, and he was looking me right in the eye. He knew who he was shooting at. He absolutely knew I was a policeman.”