Navy veteran killed during “welfare check”

| February 24, 2017

86-year-old Korean War vet Eugene Craig thought burglars were breaking into his home when he heard banging on his front door and saw flashlights outside his windows. When the intruders forced their way into his home through the back door, he met them with a .38 caliber revolver, unfortunately, the intruders were Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputies attempting a “welfare check” on the octogenarian and his ninety-year-old wife. The officers say that they told Craig to drop the gun three times before they shot him four times. From Bay Area NBC;

“If you’re there at someone’s house to check on their welfare, why do you kick two doors down at night time when my client is 86 years old, his wife is 90, and they live alone at that house and they have for years?” asked [Dennis Luca, civil attorney].

A family friend who says he’s known the Craigs for decades and was outside the home at the time of the shooting raises similar questions about whether the deputies followed proper procedure and their own policies.


That “wellness check” was not because of any reported crime and it ended up in the shooting death of Craig as he stood inside his own home.

The official press release from that incident released by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office right after the shooting says the deputies went to the 1200 block of Titus Avenue around dusk on September 12, 2016, believing an elderly person inside had medical issues.

The Sheriff’s official news release says that after calling out for about fifty minutes, deputies tried to force their way through the front door.

Because the door was steel encased the deputies couldn’t force entry and so the news release says they tried another location and went through a side door.

There they found Eugene Craig who, according to the official news release “displayed” a .38 caliber revolver, prompting Sergeant Douglas Ulrich to shoot Craig where he stood in his own home.

Category: Dumbass Bullshit

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  1. Ex-PH2 says:

    Who called for that ‘welfare check’? Why did these morons go in the evening, when the light is poor?

    I don’t see the entire story there, and I’m sure the police have all kinds of excuses, too, but since they over-reacted, I figure I can do the same thing.

    Therefore, I’d say sue the bastards. Sue the county into the effing ground. Break their budget and make them pay for everything including Mr. Craig’s funeral. And make those pissants carry his coffin.

    • OldManchu says:

      You said it perfectly. What’s wrong with the daytime. This is jacked up!

    • Ret_25X says:

      Not a welfare check.

      This is the first step of a confiscation of the property.

      This form of “SWATting” to initiate seizure or get people to leave a property goes on everyday.

      Of course, it is all “for the children”

      • CCO says:

        Interesting guess, Ret_25X. I’ve heard of gamers SWATting people and left-wingers doing it sometimes, but never old-fashioned property thieves.

        And if were a legitimate welfare check (which it still could have been from a concerned but out of touch neighbor) you need to go as soon as possible instead of leaving some old person in misery or dying on their floor.

        • Pinto Nag says:

          SWATting is not a welfare check. And I would seriously get straight answers to two questions: who called in that welfare check and why; and why didn’t the cops know anything about the person they where checking on? As usual, I don’t think we’ve heard the whole story here.

    • Graybeard says:

      A lot of questions here.
      Sue the deputies.
      Sue their supervisors.
      Sue the county commissioners.
      Sue the social services.
      Sue them all, make them pay, proclaim as loudly as possible their guilt in killing an innocent man.
      Then get a class-action suit – all senior citizens, and do it all again.

      • Inbred Redneck says:

        How about a law suit, with no settlement that doesn’t specify that all monies paid come from the agency’s operating budget or the retirement fund for that agency. Only way you’re gonna stop this shit is for it to hurt the perps, not the taxpayers. I’ll support most LEOs, but somebody needs to make sure that this kind of stuff stops yesterday. Breakin’ into an old guy’s house at night without a warrant or a good reason (a “welfare check” at that time of night?) is beyond the pale. Then again, maybe they think that everybody in Kommiefornia really has turned in all their guns, so the cops can wave around their own symbols of authority with impunity.
        I know there’re plenty of good cops out there, but if’n you guys don’t put an end to this kind of stuff now, who’ll fire through the door next time without waitin’ for the “officers” to identify themselves. At the very least, turn on them blue lights you guys love so much. That might’ve gotten the old guy’s attention.

  2. OWB says:

    Ya know, I generally don’t support suing people, but this one begs for several heavy duty law suits. And wide spread publicity.

    There is absolutely no excuse for this. None.

    What would they expect when they breech someone’s home in the middle of the night? Evidently anything other than quiet compliance gets a death penalty response.

    • Hondo says:

      To be expected, OWB.

      After all, it occurred in Californicateya – and in the Bay Area, no less. There, only the “authorities” have any right to be armed. And the “peons” are expected to obey them, NQA.

      • Perry Gaskill says:

        Are you still pissed about that time you got stopped in El Segundo, and mistaken for a Nicaraguan refugee? It helps if you’re not driving a metal flake purple ’64 Impala low ride, dawg…

  3. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    His coffin, if he wasn’t cremated, is buried. He was killed in Sept 2016. The police were called by a friend of Craig’s and asked to check on him. They had been to his home some six times in the past five years for various reasons, all on Craig’s behalf. The police reportedly attempted for some 50 mins to raise him by knocking and calling out and shining lights into his house. They ultimately broke in and the tragedy resulted. The story is current because of the lawsuit. The issue is whether procedures were followed and the suggestion is that they weren’t. However, we have only one side’s view on that. The story relates that one neighbor called Craig a war hero and that he helped land planes on an aircraft carrier, whatever that means. I point that out to suggest that with those screwy statements reported, perhaps there is more to the facts of this tragedy than we know. The irony of a police welfare check resulting in the police killing the person they were checking on is palpable.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      If Craig worked the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, he was probably an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate, plane handler. He would be one of the guys who handled the arresting lines that stop a plane quickly when it hands, and also one of the people who set the plane up at the catapult.
      Very dangerous job. If you want to see how dangerous it is, I can find a video of someone being sucked into a jet engine air intake.

      • Mick says:

        Or when a cross deck pendant breaks during an attempted arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier.

      • 2/17 Air Cav says:

        No, and I’ve seen that video. The suckee was fine. Jobs that people do stupidly bare often very dangerous jobs.

    • Rock says:

      He may of been a LSO, also known as “Paddles.” LSOs are pilots that are qualified to land on aircraft carriers.

      Basically, the LSO tells the landing aircraft to call the ball, and signals via radio and optical systems on what the pilot needs to do to successfully land.

  4. Ret_25X says:

    Speaking of lawsuits, I saw in the Army Slimes last night that the Army is being sued for not acting to prevent a Trooper from going home and murdering his family, a neighbor or two and killing himself.

    Apparently, his Commander took the easy route and simply “confined” him to the barracks and issued a no contact order.

    In addition this Commander did not report the incident leading to his decisions up the chain nor did he take steps as required in public law and Army Regulation to ensure the spouse and child were being supported.

    It is true, it only takes one dumbass to screw the whole kennel.

  5. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    If this isn’t a story for the cop haters, there isn’t one. Have fun.

    • 26Limabeans says:

      Yeah, something missing here.

      Had someone (state va services) send a trooper out to my place for a “we care” check. Broad daylight. Announced his presence as noted on the driveway sign.
      Friendly, courteous and did not even mention my holstered weapon.
      Even the dog liked him.

      • UpNorth says:

        As one who was sent to do welfare checks fairly often over a 27 year career, I never did one while working 3d shift. Afternoons? Yeah, tons of them during daylight hours, my brief time on day shift, yeah, tons on that shift, too.
        But, the department said nope, we don’t do that in the middle of the night, unless there’s more than “we haven’t heard from Fred in 3 days”. Call us at 0700, we’ll be more than happy to help you out.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Yes, this is why I am very well acquainted with my local police people. There are people with bad attitudes who like to call SWATs on you. I’ve warned them about one of those peabrains.

      • NavyEODguy says:

        Yep, ex-PH2.

        As a “short term cop” after I retired from the NAV, I made a point of requesting a key from the older folks we were regularly asked to do WCs on. And, we did, of course try to keep a WC during daylight hours.

        Only one time did I kick a door down. Daughter hadn’t heard from elderly Mom for several days. I go by her Mom’s house; ring door bell (often, knock on door (often), tap on every exterior window with my maglite.

        Call dispatch, get daughter’s phone number. Call her, tell her what I had done. Now she at a point of near hysteria. Begs me to “break into” the house.

        One swift kick to the garage door & I’m inside. No one home. Then it dawns on me – no car in the garage – does she own a vehicle? Call daughter back. Yes, she owns a car. I tell her no car and she freaks out. Someone must have kidnap her & taken the vehicle.

        While she’s boo-hooing and screaming at me she suddenly tells me she has an incoming call & will call me back

        Mom was two counties over visiting her sister. Yeah, we all got together a few weeks later & had a good laugh. Mom wasn’t even pissed I kicked her door in.

  6. jarhead says:

    Much as I hate to admit it, there are always two sides to a story….and I have to agree with 2/17 on this one. If it is as cut and dry as the first report suggests, then I hope the shooter gets what is coming to him. In 20/20 hindsight, I hope the shooter gave thought to using tear gas before entering. If nothing else, backing off and attempting to call the gentleman by phone. When I’m 86 and still rowdy by nature, best thing they can do is cut my phone off and let me handle things that happen on my own. Crazy MF that I am, at that age I’d be most likely to be the first one to shoot.

  7. Deplorable B Woodman says:

    They had to wait until dusk? They couldn’t have done all this at mid day? No phone calls?

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      And when Craig and his wife were dound dead the next day, that neighbor who called him would have been screaming, “But I called the police last night. They came. They left. They did nothing except knock on doors and shine lights! I could have done that! Who needs them? Now, two poor souls are dead. The lousy cops!”

  8. HMC Ret says:

    The LEOs had to have known that very elderly people lived there. That info would have been conveyed by the person calling for a welfare check. Also, the story states they had responded to the residence in the past.

    It doesn’t take a MENSA member to know a few things when dealing with the elderly:

    They are almost always hard of hearing at this age, often profoundly so
    They are easily confused
    They are easily frightened

    What would be the downside to simply backing off until a dialogue could be established? The fact they couldn’t raise the residents for nearly an hour should suggest they were dealing with someone who was HOH.

    I see an overreach here. Back off until communication can be established. It costs nothing but a few more minutes.


  9. MSG Eric says:

    Very strange situation. Very strange indeed.

    Though, someone slams on my door in the middle of the night I may or may not hear them and find a weapon to defend my home and family. Did he wear hearing aids that he probably took out to sleep?

  10. Cacti35 says:

    From my many years of experience, a welfare check had to be done ASAP. I have found elderly people laying on the floor after a fall in very bad shape. Waiting for the next day is not an option. It was pretty common to have to break a window to gain entry. I tried to avoid breaking a door because it is much more damaging to the property. Now this is only done after much pounding and yelling.

    Most of the time when someone had not been seen for some time was because they died on the shitter, or were laying in bed deceased.

    Fortunately I never encountered an armed subject. I will Monday morning QB this by wondering why not retreat as soon as the person displayed a weapon. A good understanding of human nature should tell you to expect someone to protect their castle, and if they are very old expect dementia or confusion. Anyway, sad deal and yes the agency will write out a big check. Sad deal for the family, and a sad deal for the officers involved.

    • Poetrooper says:

      Bingo! There are very few people who are 86 years old who are not affected to some extent by dementia. They are bound to be confused by such a dramatic event as a forced intrusion into their home. Are there not departmental SOP’s for dealing with such people in their homes?

      • 26Limabeans says:

        Hey. I’m 68 years old and there’s nothing wrong with me.
        What’s that? Glasses? I don’t wear glasses. Ain’t nothing wrong with my eyes.
        Dyslexia? Nah, I can hear you just fine.

  11. Ex-PH2 says:

    This isn’t an isolated incident. Remember that story from 2013? That was the one about a Park Forest cop shooting a 95-year-old WWII vet with beanbags, because Wrana ‘came at him’, when the man couldn’t walk without a walker for assistance.

    It isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last, either.

  12. Green Thumb says:


  13. The Other Whitey says:

    A number of things have me scratching my head about this.

    Why is a welfare check on an elderly couple being performed at night? Old folks (no offense to anyone who may fall into that category) are more likely to be heavy sleepers. They’re also more likely to have difficulty hearing. Dementia/senility is also potentially a factor.

    So with all that in mind, these deputies performed their welfare check at night, when the subjects thereof are least likely to hear them knocking on the door. Then, after getting no response, they decided to force entry. Even the best of us is going to have some cognitive difficulties when woken up in the middle of the night, and Mr. Craig, as discussed above, possibly had several things going against him in that regard that might easily have prevented him from recognizing the intruders in his home in the middle of the night to be law enforcement officers. I’m not a cop myself, but I understand welfare checks (have even participated in a few), and this is common sense.

    No matter how you slice it, these cops done fucked up. They made a bunch of stupid decisions, and then killed an innocent man trying to protect his home. If they recognize that, good, let them live with the consequences and be an example to others of what not to do. The sergeant should lose his job, as he was making the bad calls. Harsh? An innocent man was killed over nothing as a result of his completely-avoidable bad decisions, and he himself evidently pulled the trigger. That can’t be allowed to happen. The other deputies involved should face discipline as well.

    If they’re circling wagons and claiming no fault, then the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office needs to be sued into oblivion, and calls should be made for state and federal investigations into misconduct in this matter, hopefully leading to manslaughter and obstruction of justice charges.

  14. OWB says:

    My ire has not lessoned one bit about this stupid, inexcusable situation.

    What possible excuse can these clowns have for expecting a resident of his own home to disarm himself when they break into that home? Unless they have schooled him recently on what sort of tacticool apparel they are wearing this week, how was he to know that they were supposed good guys instead of thugs?

    The fact that they killed him indicates that they were in no way shape or form good guys. Law abiding citizens have no reason to know anything beyond protecting themselves when someone, anyone, breaks into their home. More than one breaking in makes it even more likely that a sane person will refuse to disarm themselves.

    They are lucky that he did not take out a couple of them before they killed him.

  15. David says:

    Ironically the link below this is “When Your Have Naive And Incompetent Leadership” – how apropos.

    I can see the urgency of checking at night depending on how the report that a check was needed was worded. Everything after seeing that the guy was still vertical smacks of a panicky cop overreaction.

  16. GDContractor says:

    I am inclined to think that if you go to someone’s house in the middle of the night to check on their welfare and you fail to break the front door in, but you do break the side door in… and the person, while standing within their own property, brandishes a weapon at you. He’s ok! Time to GTFO, radio back to the shop and say “welfare check complete”.

  17. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Mr. Craig! Police. Mr Craig. This is the police. Please open your front door if you can…And so it went for 5 minutes. No, make that 15. No 30. No 45. Okay it was 50+ minutes of the police trying to raise him. Sounds like the old man and his wife were long ago ready for dependent living.

  18. jonp says:

    None of this makes sense. I’m going to wait for a little more information before I decide my position but initially it does not look good for the Sheriff’s.