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Off-Duty Soldiers Shoot It Out With Drug Suspects

From United Press International

A group of off-duty Army Rangers engaged in a wild gun battle with drug dealers in the neighborhood where one of the soldiers lives. More than 100 rounds were fired, but no injuries were reported, and the only people arrested were two of the suspected drug dealers, who were charged with assault and weapons offenses.

The gun battle erupted late Saturday evening in the Hilltop area of Tacoma, a rundown neighborhood police have said is being taken over by drug dealers and gang members.

The group of soldiers was helping to defend the residence of Staff Sgt. William Foulk, a 12-year Army man who vowed Sunday that he would not leave his home “without a fight.”

“I think what happens now is we go up to Ash Street and clean them out,” Police Sgt. Sam Thrall said. ". . . We have a real concentration of bad guys there and the neighborhood has finally clashed with them face to face. The fact that nobody got hurt--it is kind of amazing.”

Foulk said he and a few Ranger friends were threatened while having a barbecue Saturday, and he called more Army friends to come over. Between 10 and 15 Rangers arrived, armed with a variety of personal guns.

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“We took up defensive postures, but we were attacked from the front and the rear,” he said.

Foulk, 32, assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Ft. Lewis for the past three years, said Sunday that he counted seven bullet holes in the front of his home and a similar number in the front of his neighbor’s home.

“I’m not so much afraid as I am frustrated,” he said. “I’ve sent my wife out of the area, but they are going to have to drag me out of here, because I am not going to leave without a fight.”

Foulk said he bought a boarded-up home to restore about two years ago because the neighborhood appeared to be in transition.

But over the last six months, he said, drug dealing on his street has become worse, with transactions taking place on sidewalks and gang members displaying weapons and harassing longtime residents.

Police confiscated the soldiers’ personal weapons, Thrall said.


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