Columns » Ranger Rich

Ranger Rich: Shooting the bull, for real



It was a quiet June evening in Sioux City, Iowa. Kids laughed and rode their bikes in the town tucked against the Missouri River. The ding-dong bells of ice cream trucks echoed off the old trees that line the narrow streets. And police officers stood around, shooting the bull.

In the chest. And the neck. And the shoulder.

Here you might be thinking, "Good lord! They shot an actual bull with actual guns and you're going to make jokes about it?" And I would say, "Well, sure, if you put it that way."

I know of the bull-shooting incident because I just returned from that lovely part of the country. I spent five days in Omaha, Neb., with my son Manny Ramirez Tosches, who enhances his performance by taking female fertility drugs and over the weekend had three home runs, four singles, five stolen bases and a healthy 7-pound, 12-ounce daughter.

No, really, his name is John, and his coach decided that nothing makes baseball better than playing in 99-degree heat and 90-percent humidity, learning how to keep your eye on the ball even after you've slumped to the ground with a swollen tongue and are lying in the dirt and silently mouthing the words, "Please ... get ... me ... drink" because you forgot the cardinal rule of summer life in that part of the country: each day, consume between 750 and 1,000 gallons of water.

Anyway, between baseball games I read the local newspaper, the fine Omaha World-Herald (motto: "And By 'World' We Mean As Far From Omaha As You Can Ride A Donkey In A Day"). On the front page last Friday was the story, from Sioux City some 75 miles to the north, of the confrontation between the bull, which had gigantic testicles, and police officers, who, as you know, sometimes want us to think they do, too.

Seems a pet-like black Angus bull wandered from a pasture and into the Iowa town. The 1,500-pound creature with the four-foot wide rear end was eating everything in sight and making mooing sounds before saying he hoped our new president and the country failed, although it's possible I'm thinking of highly respected GOP spokesman Rush Limbaugh.

The shooting of the tame bull was similar, as you might recall, to a 2005 incident in Colorado Springs in which our police ("Ready, aim, blindfold yourselves, run around in a small circle 25 times until you are very dizzy, fire!") sent nearly 100 bullets toward a meandering group of five buffalo that wandered from a meat-packing plant, killing the animals and also hitting two houses, a garage and the taillights of a 1987 Ford Escort.

Anyway, the Iowa bull was owned by a Sioux City couple, Dolf and Mercedes Ivener, which I point out only because in some 32 years of journalism I have never written "Dolf and Mercedes Ivener."

"The bull and our few cows got out our gate sometime because it was open or unlatched," Mercedes told the World-Herald. "The cows didn't go far. The bull wandered."

Neighbors Cindy and Rick Beyer heard about the bull and went to see if they could help. From Cindy: "When we arrived there were five Sioux City police officers standing in the park, and all five of them had their rifles and shotguns at their shoulders, ready to shoot the bull."

(Footnote: It was that quote that made me think of the incredibly clever beginning to this column. So if you think it was tasteless and insensitive, please contact Cindy Beyer.)

The bull was standing about 20 feet from the officers, doing absolutely nothing. Rick Beyer walked up to the bull. It stood still. Police shot the passive bull 15 times.

"My husband said, 'I can't stand this. Let's go,'" Cindy said. "We headed for the car, and I looked back. The bull had gone down to his knees."

The people of Sioux City are mad.

"We live in Iowa," said villager Amanda Pence, who witnessed the shooting and whose flowers were nibbled by the big guy. "We live in Farm Country USA, and we don't know how to corral a bull? I'm so disgusted."

Having endured a near-identical incident here five years ago, we in Colorado Springs extend our hands and prayers to the good people of Sioux City and, borrowing now from the Bible, offer this thought: Maebei ruslembau iuwei, squesum buell kostum, which means, literally, "Maybe we can get Rush Limbaugh to Iowa and squeeze him into a bull costume."

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