Monday, December 31, 2007

Bail Bondsmen Have a Dangerous Job

Bail bondsman David Dunn said he was a split second from kicking in an apartment door when his partner yelled.

"She's got a gun,” Carol Franklin said.

The woman inside the apartment turned and aimed at Franklin.

Franklin, who stood outside a window looking into the apartment, threw herself to the ground. Halfway down, she heard the gun's bang, she said. The rifle blast missed.

The bail bondsmen were at the Yukon apartment to detain Vicki Sanders, 45, who had skipped an Oklahoma County District Court appearance. Sanders had a signed bond through Abraham's Bail Bonds in Oklahoma City.

Sanders was shot and killed Monday night by Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers after a nearly six-hour standoff.

Dangers of bounty hunting
The danger of the job is nothing new to Dunn, but the reality of how close he came to losing his life hit hard as he went home Monday night, he said.

"You can try and avoid death ... and I've had near misses,” Dunn said. "But to have one like that, it's nothing but good luck and the grace of God. It really does make you stop and think about everything you do out there.”

Grace of God and the help of a good friend such as Carol Franklin, Dunn said.

"The thing that scared me the most was when I looked through the window knowing that my partner was about to kick the door in and she's sitting there aiming a rifle at the door,” Franklin said. "At that point my fear wasn't for myself, my fear was that I was about to lose my partner if I didn't do something quick.”

Franklin said she normally doesn't go to the back window or door. She's usually the one kicking in the door. Had she not been at that window, Dunn likely would have been killed, she said.

Bail jumper
Sanders' mother, Patsy McFadden had co-signed the bond, Dunn said.

Although not needed lawfully to enter a residence where a known bail jumper lives, Dunn and Franklin obtained written permission from McFadden to kick the door in, Dunn said.

McFadden, who told the two bondsmen that Sanders was bipolar and off her medication, said there were no weapons in the home, Dunn said.

They first tried a ruse.

"Carol knocked on the door, said some kids were throwing rocks at Sanders' car,” Dunn said. "That didn't work. She wouldn't answer the door.”

Franklin walked around to the side of the downstairs apartment to a window that was open about 8 inches with the blinds pulled down, she said.

She peered in through the window and saw the armed woman on the couch. She yelled to David, and the woman spun and fired, Franklin said.

Franklin said and she and Dunn called Yukon police.

A short time later, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol arrived with its tactical team.

The two bondsmen watched from nearby as troopers sent in a robot, then fired tear gas and flash bangs.

Franklin said she thought the armed woman may have shot the robot. There was a hail of gunfire and the ordeal was over.

"It's sad because she may have been ill,” she said. "But she wasn't going to go to court, and she wasn't going to come out of the apartment.”

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