San Diego police Capt. Miguel Rosario, a patrol officer back then, was the first cop on the scene, believing he was responding to a single accidental shooting.
Carrying a standard-issue .38-caliber revolver with six bullets, the Marine Corps veteran was in for the fight of his
life against a much-better-armed opponent.
"Talk about feeling inadequate," Rosario
got an Uzi, I've got a .38, and I'm thinking it's a robbery gone bad and his
buddies are going to encircle me."
would later play a key role in beefing up officers' weaponry and training to stop violent criminals.
arrived at the McDonald's
saw people hiding behind cars in the lot.
didn't know what was going on, but "I got that little sick feeling in the pit of my stomach," he
The SWAT-trained officer ducked behind a parked pickup truck, "and he
started opening up on me," Rosario
was badly outgunned and knew it.
had more than one adversary.
"I wouldn't have minded taking him on one-on-one," Rosario
said in his
transplanted South Bronx accent.
From behind the truck, Rosario
radioed in a Code 10 - "send SWAT" - and seconds later a Code 11 - "send everybody."
San Diego's SWAT team then consisted of patrol officers with extra training who carried their special equipment in their squad cars, Rosario
ran back to his
car to retrieve his
Ruger Mini-14 military-style rifle.
Two patrol officers fired shotguns to cover Rosario
took up position.
couldn't get a clear shot.
Police clearly needed more firepower and a new strategy, Rosario
"The time had come where you had to have a full-time, committed and dedicated, highly trained, well-equipped team ... that were committed to shooting, being in shape and being able to respond rapidly anywhere in the city," he
"We didn't have what we have now," Rosario
"We saw the benefit and the need for that," Rosario
said, though in 1984 he
blew off steam in Las Vegas for two days in lieu of counseling.
San Diego Police Officer Miguel Rosario, the first on the scene, remembers having to cope with the aftermath.
"I had to work the next day.
I drove around in a very numb state," he
While counseling was available, no one advised Rosario
to take time off.
"It wasn't that the department was insensitive.
It was that we just didn't know," he