“He might kill me, but not without a fight.”

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The story of Officer Randy Stull’s moment of truth

From the book, “Stories of Pensacola’s Finest,” by Mike Simmons

Sergeant Randy Stull

The Pensacola area experienced a rash of potentially violent crimes in June 1987. Numerous pizza delivery drivers, who mostly drove small pickup trucks, were robbed while making deliveries. The way it worked was like this: The pizza delivery establishment received a call for a delivery. When the driver arrived, he discovered a call had not been made from that address. On his return to his car, the robber approached him from behind and demanded money while sticking him in the back with what was described as a small caliber firearm. 

The Pensacola Police Tac Squad was tasked with stopping them, and they accepted the challenge with vigor! But how do you stop a crime when you have no idea when or where it will strike? That was their task. 

“I’ve got an idea,” said Officer Randy Stull. He and his fellow Tac Squad officer, David Pond, had gotten together to try to find out how to stop the robberies. “When the pizza business gets a call that they determine is suspicious, they let us know and we hide in the back of the truck. If a robbery takes place, we will be there to stop it.” 

It was a good idea, but even better was the plan that was hatched. When a suspicious call was received, All Tac officers except one would proceed to the location and waits. The last officer puts on company clothes and makes the delivery himself. The “driver” has no radio – only a gun. 

On July 6, they got the call from Domino’s. Officer David Pond was the driver. David worked out a lot and it showed. He was also tattooed on both arms. On a bad day, David Pond looked like a person no one wanted to go up against.  

As a result, nothing. Randy protested. “Who in their right mind is going to rob David? He looks like a gorilla! If somebody tried to rob him, he would crush them!” Okay, the next one would be Randy’s. After all, he looked like a college kid – perfect. 

The call came soon, the same night. The targeted area was Lavallet, a beautiful neighborhood built on the site of an old plantation owned by Carlos Lavelle.  

The Lavallet Neighborhood

Sgt. Mike Thompson and Officer Leon Martin responded and parked. Randy showed up ½ hour later.  Randy signed off and put his radio away. Then he put his Smith and Wesson Model 10 .38 revolver under his shirt. Without any means to communicate with the other officers, he realized that he was on his own. He had to take care of whatever came his way – including if a firearm pulled on him. 

When he rang the doorbell, it was answered with a “No. Not here.” Randy hesitated. Part of him didn’t want to be here. Randy turned around to start back and he saw it. Almost as in a cartoon, a huge, crouched figure of a man. This is it Randy said to himself. He put his gun in his hand under the pizza, inside the bag – smart. As he was headed back to the car, he was approached by the man.  

“Got the time?” the guy suddenly said. As Randy was looking at his watch, he suddenly felt the cold steel of a gun barrel shoved hard against his neck. Randy wondered if he would see tomorrow. 

“Give me everything you’ve got!” He pushed against Randy’s neck and demanded he get on the ground between the Domino’s car and the one next to it. Randy complied, all the while holding the pizza bag, the change bag, and his gun. Randy knew there was no way the other officers could see or hear what was going on. The robber took the money, then ordered Randy to scoot under the car, something different from the other robberies. Randy was certain he had seen his last day.  

He felt the pressure lift off his neck when the suspect reached around to get the money bag. Afraid that he was about to be shot, his fear suddenly turned to anger. “Who does this guy think he is? He might kill me, but not without a fight!” 

Lying face down with the guy standing over him, Randy thought…“It’s now or never! If I don’t do something now, he’s going to kill me.” 

In one smooth motion, Randy pulled his revolver out of the pizza bag, rolled onto his back and pointed the gun at the man, now standing directly over him. Randy immediately fired two shots straight up, striking the bad guy in the chest.  

In the next moment, the world stood still. A shocked look came on the face of the suspect. He froze, looked at his chest, then at Randy and then back at his chest, almost as if saying “What just happened? What did you do?” 

A second later, the suspect ran into a wooded area with Randy in pursuit. He couldn’t see the guy, but he knew he was there somewhere.  

“Come on out of there.” Standing in the open when a bad guy is in the shadows with a gun pointed at you feels almost like suicide. The guy ran again, but Randy caught him. The fight was on. The bad guy was determined he was not going to be handcuffed.  

Sergeant Leon Martin

Officer Martin and Lt. Banakas arrived and helped subdue the suspect. Then they provided first aid until the hospital helicopter Lifeflight, responded and got him to the hospital for surgery. 

But…where was the gun? They searched the suspect but couldn’t find it. After a few minutes, it was located fifteen feet from the robbery scene. Then came the shocking part – it wasn’t a firearm…it was a chrome-plated ratchet. This guy was robbing people with a rachet!  

On Friday, May 20, 1988, Randy was honored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 706 for his actions. Later the same year, on June 8, the American Legion honored him, and the Florida Retail Association recognized him on December 16. The next year, he was honored by the Pensacola Jaycees. On March 12, 1988, The Pensacola Police Department bestowed on Officer Stull their highest award, the Gold Medal of Valor. 

Michael Locke was his name. Michael must have been doing all the pizza delivery guy robberies, because they all stopped when he was shot. Or…maybe any others thought twice about Randy Stull being their victim and decided against it.

Retired Lt. Randy Stull with his Pensacola Police shadow board, including his Gold Medal of Valor


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