OGDEN -- When six local police officers fell to gunfire this week just up the street from his home, bad memories came rushing back for 88-year-old former Ogden Patrolman Lue S. Birch.
He relived the night in 1953 when he was kidnapped at gunpoint and another night in 1963 when his close friend, Ogden Officer Marshall White, was killed.
"Everything came flooding back," he said.
Birch recalled arresting two men who had robbed a motel on 11th Street and Washington Boulevard on Aug. 15, 1953. Once he had them in his patrol car, they drew their weapons, which he didn't realize they had hidden in their clothes. They forced him to drive to Riverdale, where he thought he would die.
"They had a pistol to my head," he said. "I asked them if they were going to kill me."
When Birch stopped the car, the gunmen fled but were caught several hours later.
"Before they were booked, I got to take them both by the nape of their necks and bang their heads together. They told me I better watch my back for the rest of my life because they were going to come after me," Birch said.
"I told them by the time they got out of jail they would both be old men and I'd be even older, so they'd probably just be doing me a favor."
In 1963, his friend and colleague, White, was shot and killed by a juvenile. Birch was by the detective's side as he died.
"I kept telling him, 'You're going to make it, you're going to pull through.' He said, 'No. I don't think so. I got hit pretty hard,' " Birch said.
"I lost a doggone good friend that night. It was so needless. After all this that has happened, I'm going to go over to the cemetery and talk to him this weekend."
Birch said he had taken out his hearing aids Wednesday evening and didn't hear the gunfire just a block away from his home.
However, when he turned on the news and saw what had happened, he felt terrified. Not only does he worry about all of the local policemen, but he also worries about his own son, Weber County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Birch.
"If you're a police officer, the minute you put on that uniform and walk outside your front door, you're in danger," he said. "At any moment, your life can be snuffed out."
Recalling his own incident, Birch said it's useless to dwell on the what-ifs and said he hopes the officers involved in Wednesday night's shooting won't second-guess themselves.
"You always have afterthoughts, and I know I made a mistake. I didn't know those robbers had guns hidden in their crotches, but if I had to do it all over again, I probably would have done the same thing," he said.
"You can't sit around thinking about how you could have done it differently. What's done is done."
Birch said his heart goes out to the officers who were shot, as well as their families.
"I feel so sad about it. I've broken down a few times," he said.
"It's a dangerous job, but I always said goodbye to my wife and gave her a kiss because I didn't know whether or not I would be coming home in one piece. So if I could offer any advice, that's what I would say."