Holding the reins of two horses with one hand, Austin Police Sgt. Adam Johnson raised his service pistol and fired a bullseye into the target some 312 feet away.
Down went Larry McQuilliams, and so ended his rampage through the streets of the Texas capital, where he’d fired more than 100 rounds from his AK-47 and .22-caliber rifles at buildings. The shot, from Johnson’s Smith & Wesson M&P .40 pistol, hit McQuilliams square in the chest and made the 15-year-veteran the toast of gun enthusiasts around the country.
“At a minimum, it was extraordinary shot,” said Army Maj. John Plaster, a retired Special Forces operator, long-range shooting expert and author of “The Ultimate Sniper: An Advanced Training Manual for Military and Police Snipers.”
It was not immediately clear if Johnson’s center-mass shot killed McQuilliams, or if the longtime criminal died from a self-inflicted shot a moment later. Results from an autopsy are pending, but there’s no disputing the improbably accurate bullet fired by Johnson brought a safe end to the Nov. 28 incident.
“It’s not impossible,” Plaster added. “Wild Bill Hickok shot bad guys from a hundred yards away with a handgun, but he was also a great shot.
“I would say what this officer did was phenomenal, especially if he didn’t brace his arm against anything.”
McQuilliams, 49, had multiple weapons, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a map of 34 downtown buildings that likely were potential targets in his pre-dawn rampage the day after Thanksgiving, according to Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. He’d already shot up the Mexican consulate, the federal courthouse and a downtown bank.
“For a guy to keep his composure and holding two horses with one hand and taking a one-hand shot with the other hand, it says a lot about the training and professionalism of our police department,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said to the Austin American-Statesman.
Johnson, who works with the Mounted Patrol Unit, was about to get off duty and stabling the horses when he heard shots and returned fire at 2:33 a.m.
On Friday, Johnson, who is on routine administrative leave following the incident, made his first public appearance at a holiday charity event.
The sharpshooter told a local radio host he thanked God for being at the "right place at the right time."