It's certainly a title that probably can be very deceiving to some who may think it has to do with pornography or something like that. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything that dirty minds have on their minds, well maybe something, but not what they would expect. Allow me to explain the moniker to you. Many years ago, not all that long after I was married (maybe less than a year, pretty certain it was less than two years) I decided to start getting some exercise because I was gaining a bit of weight. Good home cooking I suppose! I figured, what better way to do this than to go for nice, long, good paced, but relaxing walks. One night I went one way, the next time out I went another, the next time I turned this way, the next time that way, then I wound up going the wrong way.
No, I did not do anything wrong, except maybe decide to go in the direction I headed one cold winter’s night in Queens, NY (one of the counties in NYC). As I was walking along, minding my own business, a car pulled up close to the curb in front of me, but not close enough to park. I kept walking, and as curiosity and training would have me do, I checked out the occupants. As I approached, from the back of the car on the passenger side, I noted two guys in the front seat. Both seemed unusually stiff, then I saw the passenger slowly turning his head, just enough to see me, and as he did so I could see him trembling.
It did not take a rocket scientist or tactical expert to realize something was wrong. Maybe many people very well may not have realized anything was amiss - but I had been trained about things not being quite right thanks to my LEO training. In another step or two, without realizing I had done so, I had removed the glove from my right hand and I had placed my hand on the grip of my 9MM Beretta 92SB pistol that was riding in a thumb-snap holster on my right hip. I kept walking forward, passed the car, because I did not want to give them my back, but I also got as much distance between me and the car as I could on the sidewalk.
As I got even with the passenger door, it opened and a swarthy young adult male got out of the car. He stood but remained bent over somewhat, and I saw he was holding a sweater over his hands. He looked up at me, pulled the sweater back with his left hand with his right hand still underneath it. It was then I saw what looked like a threaded , white metal, .30 caliber fluted rifle barrel staring at my midsection. At that moment things kicked into high gear for me, and the world seemed to slow down, just as this guy was saying "Don't move motherfucker" to me. I did not do what he said, screw him, I kept moving.
As I moved toward the only cover I could see, a small tree and a no parking sign pole, I also moved my hands. I drew my pistol, started to aim, and heard myself vocally yell "Police - Federal Agent, don't move". I also heard me mentally yelling at myself “don't aim - don't aim - just point and shoot”. Somewhere in the split second this all took, yes it was extremely quick but I was aware of an awful lot that happened in that short actual split second of time, I thought the rifle barrel turned into a plastic soda bottle (wishful thinking I guess), and I again heard my inner voice screaming frantically at myself inside my head, this time as loud as an internal voice can be without fracturing your own skull: "It’s a gun - shoot him - it’s a gun”.
I shot, from about at the hip, and continued to bring the pistol up toward my eye level for either a point shooting shot or if need be an aimed in shot. As I did so I noticed many things. The recoil felt odd, it had not been normal. I checked the gun visually and started to slam the mag for tap and rack, but did not get to rack as I realized my glove, the one I had taken off was between my shooting hand and the pistol grip, that’s why it felt funny. I also saw that almost instantly, the guy had raised up on his toes, his face looked shocked, his eyes widened, and two ripples of flesh emanated from both eyes outward, until meeting and forming a larger ripple inside of which the skin around his eyes turned from a olive swarthy look to milky white and he doubled over. I immediately looked to the car, saw the other guy with a revolver in his hand about to get out. I fired another shot, it hit the windshield at head level of the driver. Then the guy afoot tried to get back into the car but two things prevented him, the door closed as he bumped into it, and the car left. The car sped off backwards, the guy who had been holding the rifle took off running after the car and me after him. I was commanding him to stop - silly me. The car stopped, its engine revving, and I realized the danger of the situation. I ducked behind a parked car lest the driver try to run me over. The guy who had the rifle hopped into the car, and the car and 2 bad guys sped off.
Neighborhood folks heard me calling out, asking, begging, for someone to call 911 and give them the location and to tell the 911 operator 10-13 and shots fired. That code, 10-13 is the New York City Police Department's code for officer needs assistance. I knew, that with 'shots fired' added, it would get a lightning quick response. It did! The boys in blue arrived, en ,masse, quicker than I have ever seen them respond.. After some interviewing of me and of witnesses, a detective walks over to me with a pen in his hand. On the end of the pen is perched a white metal, fluted pipe, with about a .30 caliber hole in it. He asked if that was the gun I had seen. I said "It’s definitely....eh, err, eh - NOT".
As it turned out, that had been “the rifle” that I had thought the guy was holding. He was found at a hospital some miles away a couple of days later. He said a crazy white guy walked up to him, while he was with his cousin and some friends on a street corner in Brooklyn, and suddenly the white guy just went crazy and started shooting. Strange thing though, how the cousin and the friends all had a different story that they gave to the police. They could not get their facts to agree. Also strange how he refused to allow doctors to remove the bullet; especially after police told him they could trace it to the gun that had shot him, and they believed that said gun belonged to a federal agent. Then he did something I thought even stranger but for which I am forever grateful. He confessed. Said he and his cousin were out trying to get money to buy crack. His cousin saw me and told him something like: "Do this guy.” He said, something like: "I held the bicycle pipe like a gun but I didn't mean to hurt nobody". He was arrested, so was his cousin; they went to jail for at least a few years each. The rifle turned out to have been a pipe.
Maybe a day or two after they found this guy in the hospital, one of the NYPD detectives called me and told me to pick up a copy of the Ridgewood Times, a small local weekly newspaper. In the paper was this line (or something extremely close to it), that I foolishly read as I was driving down the street: "According to police, doctors said the subject was barely holding his own". I almost crashed my car because I started to convulse with laughter. I guess you see where this is going, and are beginning to see how I got my nickname. The detectives told me my first shot had hit the bad guy in his right thigh - remember I kept moving and had only pointed it at him from about hip level when I fired the pistol. The bullet traveled from the center front of the thigh, to the inner front of the thigh. It then exited the thigh and it entered his scrotum passing into the right testicle. It passed through his testicle into the other one, and exited the left side of the scrotum. Then it entered the left thigh on the inner thigh and traveled down toward his knee, where it came to rest just a micron or so away from his femoral artery. One bullet, five bullet holes. Some days, or a week or so later, while my co-workers talked this over in the office, one of them told me I had a new nickname - Bull's-Eye Bartley. One of the other agents in our group had been diligently writing a report and seemingly not paying attention. Suddenly, he snapped his head upright, said something like: "No - no - not Bull's-Eye, it should be Ballseye"; and a legend was born - even if only in my own mind.
There was a little more to the story, like my identifying the car once the police found it, it had a bullet hole right in front of where the driver's head had been. Too bad windshields often deflect the first shot or two, then again, I do not know how I would have coped had I actually killed another human even if a dirtbag. Oh well, the other guy was unscathed except maybe for yellow stains, and skid marks, in his pants. Another note, the mugger duo had also robbed another guy that same night. Of course, it had been earlier than their unsuccessful attempt on me but they were successful with the other robbery. The police received a call, about that mugging, about 30 minutes after my incident. The guy they robbed was an older guy, who took 45 minutes, or so, to walk home after being mugged (not a lot of cell phones if any back then). Then he took a break and then called the police. I was in the stationhouse by then being interviewed again and again. My story was always the same. As I was being interrogated, every cop in the precinct house ran out and as one passed me by he said: “I guess you missed them, they just robbed someone else”. Well, they interviewed that victim and he said the driver had had a revolver in which he, the victim, had actually seen the bullets in the cylinder because the driver held it right up in front of his face. I guess I had been lucky it had not been him to point at me. Oh well. Then the police realized that this other mugging actually had happened before the one in which I had been targeted. One thing led to another and they found the guy in the hospital as I said above.
They never removed the bullet from the bad guy whom I shot. As far as I know, he still carries my memento today. Me, I still carry something from that day too, some bad dreams now and again about shooting wherein my gun fails me. They used to be terrible nightmares, I guess there was a certain amount of guilt in my having shot someone, even someone as deserving as was the criminal whom I shot. Thankfully though, I don’t wake up panicking anymore, now they are just mild dreams and always turn out okay. Of course, I also brought something else with me, through my life, because of that day. I wear the title of Ballseye. In fact, I wear it with some small amount of pride and that is what is in this moniker.
So you see - nothing pornographic at all - but yes "balls" did refer to that which those of you with dirty minds had thought, just not the way you thought it did!
All the best,
Gil P, if you ever read this, thanks for that title.