"I knew I wasn't going to die:" Sgt. Stacy Lim’s story of survival

The “Crazies” tried to kill her, but that .357 magnum bullet just made Stacy Lim stronger


“Prepare your mind for where your body may have to go.”

Those are the inspiring words of Sergeant Stacy Lim, a police trainer with Los Angeles Police Department. Those words arose out of a moment of inspiration. 

No Time for Pain
On June 9, 1990 Stacy Lim had been with the Los Angeles Police Department for two years. She patrolled South Central Los Angeles and loved it so much she believed, “God put me on this Earth to be a cop.” 

At 0145 hours, she was off duty. She had driven home from a get-together following a softball game and was tired — she didn’t notice she’d been followed for 30 miles. 

A vehicle with five members of the “The Highland Park Crazies” street gang was behind her as she pulled over across the street from her home. As she stopped, a 15-year-old male exited the stalking vehicle and managed to approach unseen behind her. He intended to murder her and steal her car to impress his 14-year-old girlfriend and fellow gang members. 

Even though Lim had slipped into an off duty reverie, she followed a procedure she’d practiced every night upon returning home. As she came to a stop, she took her pistol, which was tucked beneath her right thigh and secured it under her left arm, and exited her vehicle.

 “As I stepped out I saw the barrel of .357 Magnum — it looked like the size of a cannon.”

Stacy still had grip of her weapon so she drew it quickly and went into a combat firing stance. She shouted, “Police officer! Drop the gun!” 

Stacy and her assailant fired almost simultaneously.

The suspect’s first round hit her square in the left center of her chest. Stacy’s round hit the suspect in the shoulder. 

Stunned, the “crazy” turned and ran around the back end of Stacy’s car.

The .357 round entered Stacy’s chest, nicked the base of her heart, her diaphragm, liver, intestine, and shattered her spleen before exiting through a tennis ball-size hole in her back. The impact caused her to take one step back, but somehow she maintained a good stance and proper grip of her weapon.  

Stacy described the pain of that bullet traveling through her body: “If you take a javelin, heat it up about 1,000 degrees, shove the thing through your chest, that’s about what it feels like — a real burning sensation.”

In the moment, she thought to herself, No time for pain right now. I’ll take time to feel it later.

She sensed the suspect had friends and she was still in danger so she moved cautiously to the back corner of her car and leaned out a bit. She spotted the suspect with weapon in-hand. He fired five more times at her, but the rounds flew over her right shoulder, high.

Stacy returned fire three more times, all of which hit the suspect. He was out of business. The other “Highland Park Crazies” fled the scene. 

Stacy realized she was seriously wounded. She began walking toward her home, where she had a room-mate.  She was able to reach the bottom of her lighted driveway where she stopped. 

She said later she remembered thinking very clearly, My blood feels warm. That’s strange.

She then  rolled backward toward the ground, but said, “I wasn’t afraid because I knew it was bad, but I knew I wasn’t going to die.” 

As she lay down on the ground she willingly placed her life as always “in God’s hands.” 

Even though her heart would stop, Stacy Lim wouldn’t.

She would survive this brutal ambush and return to patrol her same district in just eight months with unrestricted duty.

Been There, Done That
Stacy Lim is now a Sergeant — she specializes in training the physical and mental survival of officers, sharing her wisdom drawn from her experience. Some of what she teaches includes: 

1.    Don’t focus too much on the negative. Choose to look at the positive and teach others to do the same.
2.    Prepare for the worst and hope for the best — even if the worst never comes, be prepared for it.
3.    Protect people who can’t protect themselves — shame on us if we are not prepared for that.
4.    Train! Train! Train! 
5.    Officers can die before their time if they give up. You can never give up!

Sergeant Lim possesses a great passion as she speaks. “I speak for the one! The one person in class who takes that one thing away from class that somewhere down the line saves them. If I can inspire one person not to give up, then I have done my job.”

Stronger!
Nietzsche once said, “That which doesn’t kill you can make you stronger.” In a violent flash, Stacy Lim’s life almost ended, but it didn’t. The “Crazies” tried to kill her, but that .357 magnum bullet just made Stacy Lim stronger. 

She now teaches other officers to internalize the message from her experience — making the stronger as well. 

It is not the bullet that made her — and makes us — stronger. The strength comes from the noble heart it struck — the heart of a warrior.

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