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University of South Florida rampage - the Tampa Police Sergeant who fired the fatal shot, Sgt Burt Murray, talks exclusively with 10 News

1:44 AM, Feb 7, 2014   |    comments
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  • Tampa Police Sergeant Burt Murray demonstrates the day he fatallt shot the man accused of going on a rampage- raping in terrorizing students- near USF and then sending police on a wild chase.
  • Tampa Police Sergeant Burt Murray received the medal of valor for their bravery the day they chased and eventually captured the man accused of a terrorizing rampage near USF in September, 2013.
    

 

Tampa, Florida - He's the kind of guy you want on your side, a man with heart of gold, a man willing to take a bullet for people he doesn't even know.

Friends and colleagues of Burt Murray say he is full of goodness, integrity and kindess.

And, on September 6, 2013, he was in the right place at the right time, his heart full of loyalty, ready to protect and serve at any cost. He was willing to die, so that others may live.

STORY: Suspect killed in shootout with police after chase

He admits he'd do it again in a heartbeat.

"Everything slows down. Literally, it was a like a movie, it went in slow motion," Burt told 10 News during an exclusive interview.  "My heart was racing, I just knew I wasn't going to let anyone die that day."

It was a day Tampa Bay will never forget. Before the sun even came up, a rampage was well underway.

A man was terrorizing students in the USF area, raping them, holding them at gunpoint. He was so bold that he held 30 people hostage at a party. He said he'd kill them if they called police. 

Charles Christopher Bates was on the loose and would lead hundreds of officers on a massive manhunt that ended in a dangerous, edge-of-your-seat car chase live on television.

RAW VIDEO: Police chase, shootout with USF manhunt suspect **WARNING GRAPHIC FOOTAGE**
MORE VIDEO: Police footage of the chase and shootout

Frantic 911 calls went out over police radios. Commanders could be heard, yelling, "Take that vehicle out when you get the opportunity! He's gonna kill someone! Ram him!"

Burt was ready, waiting and willing to sacrifice his own life.

"Right there in my head, I said, no I'm not gonna let this happen, this is not today, not with me here. They're not dying today," said now-retired Sgt. Murray. "In my head, I'm running through 'what did he do all night long?'...He shot at three different people, he's got a gun. He's on a mission."

Little did Charlie Bates know, this 25-year veteran with the Tampa Police Department, was willing to take a bullet to stop him.    

"The crazy thing is, I wasn't even supposed to be there that day.  I was set to retire September 1st," said Burt. "But, I'm glad I was there."

Burt Murray was prepared to die that day for his fellow officers and civilians.

"There's no way I'm going to let anyone hurt or kill any one of y'all if I can do anything about it.  Even if I have to die before I do it," he told us.

On this day, it would be the rounds from his rifle that would stop the rampage. While hundreds of officers surrounded USF, Bert took a different tactic. 

He knew Charlie Bates was from Lakeland and would most likely use I-4 to head home. So, Burt waited on US 301.

"I basically was sitting there, 'what are you doing? Where's your rifle?... It's in the trunk'. So, I got out, got my rifle, lock load, ready, put it in my seat.  As I got back in, no sooner than two to five minutes, I look down the road, here comes the car," he remembered.

Sure enough, Bates drove right past him. And, it was on.

"You can hear the sheriff radio coming on, 'hey knock that car down. Do not let it get on the interstate. He's going to shoot and kill someone!"

Related: Radio transmission of Bates police chase released

Burt was both horrified and worried as he watched the suspect's car ahead of him on the road.

Burt recalled, "He's weaving in and out of cars and at the same time, blindly shooting out of the back of the window. He's actually hitting the cars."

Burt remembers everything being in slow motion that day, and oddly enough, he lost his hearing temporarily.  

"This is real. Everything was silent. You're focused on, don't let him kill them. Don't let them kill him."

He would later be told by department counselors that during a fight or flight situation, sometimes the senses can be lost or heightened.  

"I couldn't hear my rounds. I thought my weapon wasn't working.  I kept firing but didn't hear anything. I found out afterwards that I fired 19 shots that day," Burt said.

And, his shot would be the fatal shot.

"He fired like three or four shots, while he's driving, they tapped him, still behind him, they tapped him. You can see, he went through the median, spun out, skidded off to the side. Everything slows down, literally like a movie, it went in slow motion," the former sergeant described.

At one point, without hesitation, Burt pulled over, got out of his car and continued shooting.

And, he prayed.

"'Don't let him kill them, don't let him kill them. Gotta get rounds, gotta get rounds!'... All the way to the end where you're shooting and you're still hyped. Your adrenaline is still flowing and your senses start coming back," he said.

His bravery, along with many others, was captured on camera. Thousands of people all over Tampa Bay watched the chase live on television, shocked by what they saw.

In fact, Burt can be seen on camera slowly advancing to the car, a gun in each hand, walking, waiting, anxious to see inside. He had no idea what he'd find

As he approached the car, he yelled out to his fellow officers.

"I started screaming 'cease fire, cease fire, cease fire!'. This is real, to the point where I start firing, that little thing in my head, your audible, disappears and you're focused on, don't let him kill them. Please don't let him kill them!"

His adrenaline was so high that day, he kicked in the gunman's window in one fluid motion, but doesn't remember a thing. 

He said with a smile, "I never even remembered that. So, when I came back, the guys were like, hey you kicked in a window. I said, 'I didn't kick in a window'. And, they said, 'yeah you kicked in a window',Burt recalled. "But when you look at it, I realize I did kick in a window, but my focus was him coming back up..." 

When Burt looked inside the car, blood was everywhere. He originally thought the suspect was poised to shoot them.

It was his heart, his training, his love for the job and his loyalty to fellow officers that drove him to save lives and keep going.

"You have that force, that power going 'no, it ain't gonna happen.  It's not gonna happen today'. That's where the conversation comes in, if I can do anything to make sure they're going home, they're going home," he said.

Everyone did go home that day, including Sgt. Murray.  He says he was glad he was there, and he'd do it all over again to protect his fellow officers, and serve the citizens of Tampa.

Sgt. Murray and his squad received the medal of valor for their bravery that day. "We were just doing our job. I'm so glad everyone went home.  I wasn't going to let anyone die, not if I could help it."

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