Utah Department of Public Safety

Highway Patrol - Full Metal Jacket

Most members of the Patrol during the 1950s and 1960s preferred full metal jacket bullets. It was rumored that this round was an armor piercing bullet capable of penetrating an engine block. Furthermore, when worn on the issued belt loops, full metal jacket bullets did not discolor the officer’s uniform trousers, as did the lead tipped bullets. During an incident in the 1960s, the full metal jacket round proved to be anything but a "man stopper".

On August 3, 1960, Trooper Keith Hooper was running radar on US 40, about 13 miles west of Duchesne. He observed a vehicle wanted by the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office for investigation of grand larceny of a large truck tire and rim. As Keith turned to pursue, the vehicle immediately pulled over and the driver jumped out. Trooper Hooper asked the driver to open his trunk, which he did. Inside was a large truck tire mounted on a rim.

The driver identified himself as Frank Robert Litizzette, Fort Morgan, Colorado. Inside the vehicle were two young boys, who said they were hitchhikers. Trooper Hooper told Mr. Litizzette to follow him to the Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office. The driver agreed and began following slowly.

At the main intersection in Duchesne, the driver suddenly accelerated and turned south onto State Road 33, heading up Indian Canyon. Trooper Hooper began pursuit, activating lights and siren. About two miles into Indian Canyon he drew his service revolver and fired two rounds into the air. The suspect continued for two more miles. Suddenly the car began belching blue smoke and rolled to a stop. The two hitchhikers jumped out and ran up a hillside. One of them yelled to Trooper Hooper, "He has a rifle."

The driver was attempting to start his car, but without success. The driver then exited his vehicle with rifle in hand. Keith ran to the edge of the road and told the suspect to drop the rifle. The suspect then said, "Go ahead and kill me." He then began to curse Trooper Hooper.

Keith began to walk towards the suspect ordering him to drop the weapon. At approximately 20 feet, the suspect suddenly pointed the muzzle of the rifle at Trooper Hooper. Keith fired and the suspect dropped to his knees. Again the suspect raised the muzzle and again Keith fired. This action was repeated a third time. Knowing his revolver was empty, Keith moved to the side. The suspect turned to aim the weapon at Keith. Keith then jumped the suspect and wrestled the rifle from him. Following a brief scuffle, Keith was able to handcuff the suspect.

The suspect had been shot once in the chest, once in the right side, and twice in the hip. His rifle was fully loaded with the safety off. The suspect recovered fully and stood trial for grand larceny and attempted murder. The two passengers were hitchhikers. One of them photographed the entire gun fight and arrest. Following this incident, many troopers replaced their full metal jacket bullets with lead nose, hollow points.

[Last Update - Friday, 20-Dec-2013 11:00:39 MST]