An election year like this has many experts asking what it’s going to take to get to the White House.
Some would say 270 electoral votes.
HPD Sgt. Darren Schlosser would laugh and say, “All it took was 14 stitches.”
He can laugh about it now but the events surrounding his White House experience were not that funny at the time of the event that led up to getting stitched up.
His Head in the Game
The sergeant, normally assigned to Auto Theft, was supervising COVID-19 testing at Del Mar Stadium on Friday, May 29, the first day of major civil unrest in Houston. He ended his shift and drove to his home in Rosharon, only to quickly realize his HPD brothers and sisters needed help.
So, he drove the 30 miles to 1200 Travis and was assigned to lead 50 officers to a hot spot around Minute Maid Park, where a crowd was becoming unruly, on the edge of violence.
One HPD officer, a commander, was hit with a rock. Moments later that commander and two officers were attempting to apprehend a suspect when the crowd became aggressive toward them. That is when Sgt. Schlosser went to assist this effort.
A huge piece of concrete probably thrown with power equal to a Justin Verlander fastball struck Schlosser in his forehead, above his left eyebrow.
“I hit the ground – I must have turned a 180 – I was trying to figure out what happened to me,” the sergeant recalled. “Blood was pouring out from my forehead.
“They grabbed me up by the ballistic vest (handle) and moved me off to the side. They evacuated me out to a safe area about a block away, where the SWAT team was staging up. The SWAT doctor examined me and got an ambulance to pick me up.”
“A great picture of my bloody forehead soon went viral on social media,” the riot victim said. Officers recovered a piece of concrete that was about 12 inches in diameter and two inches thick. They have his picture but not his identity.
The HFD took Schlosser to Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. Doctors used 14 stitches to seal the wound. Now, this was serious business, but the sergeant recalled events surrounding his operation with good humor.
He called his in-laws, Mike, and Christina Allaun, to pick up his wife, Caroline. When they got to the hospital Caroline was worked up, flustered and unable to pass the temperature screening test. She could not be admitted to the emergency room where her husband was getting stitches. It was decided that Christina would check on her brother-in-law.
What happened next was at first shocking but later funny.
Another patient was brought into the same hospital room with the injured HPD sergeant. This individual was in critical condition.
The nurse in charge left the room, only to encounter Christina, who had learned that her brother-in-law was in the same room.
“Don’t go in there,” the nurse urged. “The patient is critical.”
Christina was petrified, saying, “What! He wasn’t hurt that bad!”
The nurse did not realize what she was saying and quickly rebounded. As Christina’s faced flashed its shocked expression, the nurse said, “Oh, not your husband!”
The “sister” who is not his wife was present during the stitching and texted Caroline a play-by-play. “I’ve known Christina since 1989,” Schlosser said. “She’s my ‘sister.’
Schlosser said his family can now laugh about the apprehensive moment, including the explanation that the concerned woman was not actually his wife.
The Lightning Bolt!
The recovery immediately began. They numbed him up with morphine. He was sore the next day and “tender” the day after that. But he did not spend the night at the hospital.
“They released me at 2 a.m. and I went home,” he said. It had been a rough way to spend a Friday night, on duty or not.
There is a cliché we must throw in at this point because it fits so well: You can’t keep a good man down – especially a Houston police sergeant. He was on the fast track. He was – one might say – a hard-headed police sergeant.
“I was back on duty Monday evening for mobilization,” he said. “I wasn’t going to let some situation like that knock me down. I was going to get right back up and get at it.”
There was another “comical side.”
Funny the way scars heal.
“One evening when I came back into work,” Schlosser explained. “My scar was healing, and somebody said, ‘What’s going on, Harry Potter? Look at your scar.’
“I’ll be darn if that scar didn’t look like a lightning bolt – just like the one Harry Potter is famous for.”
It only “temporarily looked like a lightning bolt. It gave me a way to make a dire situation light-hearted.”
The good-humored sergeant continued his story.
“Here’s where it gets really cool. Joe (Gamaldi) contacted me a few weeks back and said he had nominated me to attend the July 4th celebration at the White House. Myself and my wife attended on the south lawn. The Union covered our expenses to get there and back.”
Schlosser and about 40 other officers attended, most of them injured in the line of duty while handling the riots resulting from the George Floyd death in Minneapolis. Staying masked and socially distanced from the others, the sergeant said he heard lots of exciting stories, including those from officers who had experienced life-threatening ordeals.
Special tribute was paid to David Dorn. On June 2 Dorn, a 77-year-old retired African-American police captain, was shot to death by a man looting a pawn shop in the early hours of the morning in St. Louis, Missouri.
“I was deeply humbled when I met the family of David Dorn and had the opportunity to speak with his widowed wife. He was another brave leader among those of us called into law enforcement.”
“It was amazing,” he said. “On the most patriotic day of the year we were actually at the White House. Not many people get to do that. It was an honor and privilege. I can’t put it into words. It was a tremendous privilege!”
When all was told, Darren and Caroline spent all day on the south lawn and witnessed the flyover of World War II era bombers, a demonstration by the Golden Knights Army parachute team, heard a speech by President Donald Trump and experienced the nation’s greatest fireworks display after dark.
The 23-year HPD veteran called it one of his greatest thrills, saying he was thankful that he survived “with a permanent scar” while his colleagues from other departments were recovering from far more serious injuries.
A Real Blessing
Normally, Schlosser spends his duty in Auto Theft addressing the problem of auto thieves who steal cars using the most modern method – using fake IDs to con dealers with the resultant paperwork.
He has authored a course he teaches automobile dealers and law enforcement personnel all around the nation. It’s entitled “How to steal a car with a pen.”.
He loves to discuss the Auto Theft Division’s success with making 57 arrests of con artists who tried to use their fake IDs and credit ratings to attempt the purchase of automobiles with a value of $2.475 million.
But that is another story.
For now, Sgt. Darren Schlosser loves telling how he got to the White House, “a great blessing” in his life.
“It was a crazy night,” he said, “to go from getting 14 stitches to the White House. That’s not bad.”