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Robot Helps Sheriff's Deputies Snatch Gun From Armed Suspect

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The robot used by sheriff's deputies to disarm a suspect. (Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)
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The Los Angeles County sheriff's department announced on Thursday that they'd detained an attempted murder suspect with the help of a robot.

In the evening of September 8, deputies in Lancaster were on the trail of 51-year-old Brock Ray Bunge, who was suspected of attempting to kill one person and robbing two others. He fled into a field and hid in a berm that was shrouded with vegetation and wire fencing. He then engaged in a six-hour standoff with deputies as they tried to get him to surrender.

Making little progress, Deputies decided to go with a wild card: they called in the robot. You might be thinking of Robocop (or even Universal Soldiers? anyone? anyone?), but it wasn't quite as dramatic as that.

What happened was that the remote-controlled robot snuck up on Bunge and detected his location. Then, as deputies distracted Bunge by yelling at him through a public address system, the robot extended its arm and snatched his firearm. Because it was dark, and because the robot was so discreet, Bunge had no idea that he'd been disarmed. "The robot was able to move up and grab the gun without him noticing," Capt. Jack Ewell, a tactical expert with the sheriff's department, told the L.A. Times. "He never knew it happened."

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The robot brought the firearm back to the deputies. Then it went back to (a still oblivious) Bunge and tore off the wire fencing, exposing his whereabouts. Bunge gave up and surrendered.

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The firearm retrieved by the robot. (Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)
The most notable use of robots by law enforcement happened this summer, when officers used a bomb-carrying robot to kill Micah Xavier Johnson, who killed five officers in a July 7 shooting in Dallas. In 2015, a man was threatening to jump from a Silicon Valley freeway when officers used a robot to deliver him a pizza. After this kind gesture, the man surrendered and gave himself up to authorities.