Bullet Riddled

The First S.W.A.T. Officer Inside Columbine...and Beyond

Non-Fiction - True Crime
257 Pages
Reviewed on 04/19/2016
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Author Biography

Sergeant Grant Whitus is a 26-year veteran of a Colorado sheriff’s office. He served 17 years on SWAT, the last seven as the Team Leader.

Grant is a certified Explosive Breacher and a Colorado POST Certified Instructor for the Law Enforcement Training Academy. He teaches Officer Survival, Building Searches, Rapid and Immediate Deployment (RAID), Single Officer Response (Lone Wolf), SWAT, Responding to In-Progress Calls, Law Enforcement Driving, Precision Immobilization Technique, Building Searches, Close Combat Techniques, Traffic Stops, and Civil Law for the Patrol Officer, as well as many other disciplines.

Grant attended Arapahoe and Red Rocks Community Colleges.

Grant has received 16 Medals, including five Medals for Valor, and is the most decorated employee the a sheriff’s office. In 2002, Grant and his SWAT Team were honored as “Police Officer of the Year”.

Sgt. Grant Whitus

Grant was the Lead SWAT Team member during the Columbine High School shooting. He gave aid to the teacher who was shot and then was the first to enter the library and locate the shooters. Listen to the true and accurate account of what occurred at Columbine from the person who was actually there. Grant was also the Team Leader during the Bulldozer Incident in Granby, CO. Additionally, he was the Team Leader who devised and executed the explosive tactical plan for the Hostage Rescue at Platte Canyon High School in September 2006, the only one of its kind. Most recently, Grant was the Team Leader during an Officer Rescue where over thirty rounds were fired. The officer was rescued without injury while the suspect was shot by SWAT.

Inside the Classroom – Platte Canyon High School – KMGH 7 News

Whitus was afraid the gunman would either set off the explosives or execute the hostages. “Everyone agreed this was going to happen, so before 4 o’clock we knew (the entry) had to happen,” said Whitus.

Shoot First: Columbine Transformed Police Tactics – Fox News

“Whitus and other SWAT officers tried to wheel Sanders out of the classroom on an office chair. Whitus was holding bandages to Sanders’ wounds when he died.”

The Zero Hour – Law Enforcement Today

“Along with Park County Sheriff’s deputies, the Jefferson County Sheriff command staff, and a former SWAT team leader, Sgt. Grant Whitus, were responsible for the positive outcome that day.”

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

Sometimes an author speaks so clearly and so honestly, the reader feels body-punched by the truth. Grant M. Whitus honors us with his gut-pummeling book, Bullet Riddled: The First S.W.A.T. Officer Inside Columbine…and Beyond. The down-to-earth authenticity embedded in his gritty voice starts immediately with his first-hand reliving of the Columbine massacre. This is not some academic “remembering the events at Columbine”, but an in-your-face, moment-to-moment live replay of good people losing lives and precious loved ones to two brutal, sociopathic youths. Whitus brings us back to the humanity – good and bad – involved. It is a powerful start to telling a larger truth about security in our modern world.

When Whitus becomes the number two man on a Colorado S.W.A.T. Team, his obsessive passion for perfection – based on the certainty that being best is the minimum requirement for a S.W.A.T. team to effectively do its job: saving lives – his rigorous demands accomplish two well-served goals: eliminating sub-par performers, and creating a perfectly effective team – one impeccably trained only to succeed.

In Bullet Riddled, Grant M. Whitus makes no apologies either for his strenuous demands or his - until then - unconventional methods, telling a story rife with heart-pounding true life encounters, unencumbered by any need for grandstanding or flattery. His writing is unvarnished, rewarding the reader with a brutally raw account of the truth that echoes: “You want us on that wall; you need us on that wall.” And yet, the power of his message comes less from the machismo of his telling and more from the powerful sense of humanity that motivates it. And, somewhat unexpectedly, what we feel most because of that is gratitude. With perhaps a fist pump in the air.

Tracy Slowiak

Whoa! That's the first thing I thought after I finished reading Bullet Riddled: The First S.W.A.T. Officer Inside Columbine...and Beyond by authors Grant Whitus and Thom Vines. Taking readers back to a very difficult and turbulent time in our history, the time of the first large-scale school shooting, that in Columbine, Colorado, this real life story shows the experience from a viewpoint most likely unheard before now, that of the first S.W.A.T. team members that responded to the scene. Author Grant Whitus was one of these team members, and his first hand knowledge of this highly traumatic scene is both enlightening and horrifying to read. For any reader who lived through this time period, or any reader interested in the history of school shootings in this country, this book is a highly readable and educational retelling of the events as they actually occurred.

I was incredibly intrigued by Bullet Riddled: The First S.W.A.T. Officer Inside Columbine...and Beyond. This book pulled me in from the very first page and kept me reading straight through until the very end. Authors Grant Whitus and Thom Vines have done an excellent job of telling what really happened at Columbine from the police/S.W.A.T. perspective, as well as many more stories of Mr. Whitus' S.W.A.T. team experiences. Any reader interested in the Columbine massacre, books about police science or the activities of S.W.A.T. teams from an insider's perspective, or those just looking for a very interesting, true life read should absolutely read this book. I am highly recommend this book, and hope that the authors will team up to write more in the future!

Romuald Dzemo

What does it feel like to be a cop? In his heartbreaking memoir, Bullet Riddled: The First S.W.A.T. Officer Inside Columbine...and Beyond, Grant Whitus writes, “You wouldn’t know it now, but in my younger days, I must have run from the cops nearly a hundred times (no joke) and never gotten caught. That is until a rude awakening at seventeen…sitting in the back of a police cruiser.” What might have started as an admiration for the way cops speak among themselves and the atmosphere they create with their walkie-talkies soon turned into a powerful call to mission, one in which every step exposed the protagonist to unimaginable dangers. In this heart-pounding memoir, the author lifts the veil and shows readers what being a cop really means. Listen to him narrate the major operations of S.W.A.T, including the well-known Columbine Massacre, the Albert Petrosky shooting, The Platte County Tragedy, and many more dangerous ones.

It is a riveting story of courage and limitless generosity, told with bluntness, humility, and simplicity. As one reads Bullet Riddled: The First S.W.A.T. Officer inside Columbine...and Beyond, one is suddenly immersed in that consciousness of the uncertain, the frighteningly scary world of a dedicated cop, who never knows when he would be called to put his life on the line. It is a heroic tale of the joys and woes of putting one’s life on the line to protect the weak, but it is not an altogether joyous ride for the protagonist. In this little book, readers will discover his falls, his fears, and ultimate triumph, but above all, they will discover the secret that made him stay for so long. This is a book that will change the way you look at cops, an engrossing read laced with verifiable facts, and a whole new definition of vocation. A story that will inspire many hearts. Well-written!

Eric Smith

Grant Whitus was on the front lines of one of the most shocking school shootings in the country. His non-fiction story, Bullet Riddled: The First S.W.A.T. Officer Inside Columbine...and Beyond is a memoir of sorts and takes readers behind the scenes to see what it is really like in a dangerous situation. With the help of Thom Vines, Whitus tells about what it means to be a S.W.A.T. officer and uses the Columbine incident as a vehicle to show exactly what a S.W.A.T. officer can deal with at any time. Whitus takes us through the politics of a S.W.A.T. office and shows us what happens in the aftermath of a tragedy like Columbine. He explains what changes are made and the logic behind those changes. But then he also shows us what truly happens next, and how it isn’t always necessarily as pretty as everyone hoped for.

I really enjoyed Bullet Riddled and the behind the scenes look at exactly what S.W.A.T. does. People like cop shows and true crime novels, but there’s not a lot out there about S.W.A.T. agents, so I found this story very interesting. I liked how Grant Whitus talked about Columbine. I found that story in particular fascinating because I remember when it happened. But I also liked how Whitus and Thom Vines used Columbine to frame the bigger story. Whitus talked about his career and some of the other things that he saw too, which I thought gave this book a much wider appeal.

Milan Fila

Bullet Riddled: The First S.W.A.T. Officer Inside Columbine...and Beyond by Grant Whitus with Thom Vines is a true crime story that takes us behind the scenes and into the Columbine shooting. Grant Whitus joined the Colorado S.W.A.T team in 1992 and was on the front lines of the Columbine massacre in 1999. This memoir type non-fiction story is about Whitus’ time as a S.W.A.T. officer. He shares stories about how difficult it is to be an officer and try to keep the public safe. He uses Columbine as an example to show just how difficult that job is. After Columbine, major changes swept through the S.W.A.T. infrastructure, causing resignations and deepening fractures among friends and rivals within the agency. Whitus was there to pick up the pieces, and hand selected his new dream team of elite recruits. But even his dream team couldn’t do the job that everyone wanted without its own set of issues.

Bullet Riddled is a very interesting story. Like most readers, I remember Columbine and have my own personal set of reactions to the story. So it was very informative to hear it from someone who was on the front lines and one of the first to respond. This story is definitely unfiltered. Whitus tells us how it was and doesn’t try to sugarcoat any part of the story. I was surprised to see pictures of dead people within these pages, but that is Whitus’ 'in your face' style. And I appreciated his honesty in this book. Whitus tells the story how it was, and he doesn’t apologize for it.