When the radio call came out that a woman bent on killing herself, and possibly others, was on the loose at a downtown mall, plainclothes San Diego police detectives Odie Gallop and Ross Weaver responded without hesitation.

It was just before noon on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Horton Plaza was crowded with customers and people eating lunch when the distraught woman armed with a loaded pistol walked into the shopping center.

Gallop and Weaver, who are on Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s executive security detail, first spotted the woman at Macy’s and tried to stop her. Minutes later, the detectives found themselves staring down the barrel of her .40 caliber Springfield XD, not once but twice.

They drew their guns, they ordered the woman to drop hers and they yelled for onlookers to get down and get back. At one point they were less than 10 feet away from the gun aimed squarely at them, yet Gallop and Weaver did not open fire.

It was that restraint in the face of such danger that earned the veteran officers the department’s Medal for Valor.

“The detectives put themselves in extreme danger trying to preserve this woman’s life and the lives of innocent citizens shopping at the mall,” Mayor Faulconer said during a March 9 awards ceremony. “They exercised great restraint and tremendous courage by not firing their weapons yet staying engaged in the pursuit.”

Cops are trained to respond to a deadly threat with an equally lethal response. But they are also trained to be aware of their surroundings, and in this case the detectives said they could not open fire in the mall with so many people around.

“The first time she pointed the gun at us there were people behind her and behind us,” Gallop said. The second time she took aim, the backdrop was the busy food court.

Gallop said they held their fire while going through a “mental check list in a millisecond.”

But it wasn’t just the woman who ignored the officer’s orders. “Not everyone was getting down,” Weaver said.

He acknowledged “people were in kind of shock” at the incongruous sight of two men in suits pointing weapons at a blonde woman aiming a gun back at them.

Gallop, with his radio in one hand and his service weapon in the other, said he was confident he would have hit the woman if he fired but there were too many variables and too much risk to others. Weaver agreed, saying there was just too much possibility for error.

San Diego police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said, “I am incredibly proud of the courageous actions of Detectives Gallop and Weaver who responded so quickly and placed themselves in harm’s way to protect our community.”

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, eluded the detectives for 10 to 15 minutes as she frantically rushed down stairs and sprinted around blind corners.

But less than a half hour after she entered the mall and with the officers not too far away, she sat down in front of a window outside a Gap store, put the gun to her head and fired. She died at a hospital a short time later.

The detectives lamented that they could not save her but they were glad that no one else was hurt.

It wasn’t until later when they were debriefed that they learned she had not only warned she would take her own life, she had also threatened to kill her mother and cops.

Asked if receiving a Medal for Valor award made them heroes, the veteran detectives predictably scoffed and said they were just doing their jobs.

Gallop said that every officer deserves one. “Ross and I just happened to be at a certain place at a certain time,” he said.

The detective added that the real heroes are the department’s fallen officers.

J.D. De Guzman, Chris Wilson, Terry Bennett — along with all of the other law enforcement and military men and women who have died while doing their job,” he said.

“We just did what every other cop would have done.”
Extreme danger:
Faced with a loaded gun
SDPD detectives
held their fire
MARCH 24, 2017