War on Drugs

Poker Raid Turns Into Gunfight


Once he recovers, a 72-year-old man will be charged with attempted murder after getting into a shootout with the SWAT team who raided the private poker game he was hosting. From the Pokerati blog:

A relatively routine raid of a low-stakes poker game in Greenville, South Carolina turned bloody yesterday night — as police tried to gain entry to a poker house. The game host, now known to be Aaron Awtry, 72, shot through the front door, striking sheriff's deputy Matthew May with a bullet that went through his arm.

A vice squad in SWAT gear returned fire, hitting Awtry with multiple rounds in his arm and thumb … which was followed by a 20-minute standoff between cops and players, according to a spokesman for the Greenville County Sheriff's Department. Both shooting victims were taken to the hospital where they are in stable condition.

There were 12 people and Awtry in the house at 502 Pine Knoll Drive when police arrived at about 9:20 pm last night. According to frontline witnesses, they had just finished a small buy-in dinnertime tourney … and a 1/2 cash game was just getting underway when someone saw 5-0 approaching on a security monitor. Before he could clearly vocalize an alert, a battery ram begin slamming the front door and players froze. Awtry, who players say has notoriously bad hearing in his senior years and presumably believed the game was being robbed, began shooting at the door with his pistol, firing "at least once" according to a player, "multiple shots" according to police. At least four officers returned fire at the door with at least 20 bullets from their higher-powered assault weapons.

As Awtry fell back into the poker room entryway, he balked, "Why didn't you tell me it was the cops?"

Local news coverage of the raid here. Police seized about $5,000 in cash. Everyone but Awtry was issued a $100 fine. Ironically, both the South Carolina Supreme Court and state legislature may soon clarify the state's confusing laws about private poker games.

This is far from the first time police have brought the SWAT team to a poker game. Reason.tv covered a similar raid at on a charity poker game hosted by an American Legion post in Dallas.