Something seemed amiss when three McHenry County sheriff's deputies went to the Holiday Hills home of Scott B. Peters in October.
There was no doorbell at white house on the 1300 block of Northeast Drive, and two surveillance cameras followed the movements of Deputies Dwight Maness and Khalia Satkiewicz as they approached the home's front step, answering a call for a well-being check of Peters' wife.
The deputies identified themselves and asked Peters to come outside. He refused at first, telling them to get off his property, but then asked them to come inside the home.
Maness refused and then heard a voice from inside say, "If we're gonna do this, let's do this. Airborne!"
A volley of gun shots then rang out from Peters' AR-15 rifle.
"When he said, 'Airborne,' I immediately tried to take cover," Maness, seated in a wheelchair with his left leg elevated, testified Tuesday in the attempted murder trial of Peters.
Peters, 52, who served tumultuous years in the U.S. Army in the early 1980s, fled the scene, authorities say. He was arrested about 16 hours later after a manhunt involving more than 250 law enforcement officers.
Peters' attorney, Public Defender Richard Behoff, said the gunfight was the result of a misunderstanding. Peters didn't realize he had shot at police, thinking they were people who had vandalized his home in the past.
"On Oct. 16, Scott Peters made a horrible, horrible mistake, a rush to judgment," Behoff told a jury of seven women and five men. "Don't make the same mistake he did. Scott had no intention of killing anybody."
Michael Combs, chief of the McHenry County state's attorney's office, though, described Peters as a "coward."
"He ambushed those officers," Combs said. "They were doing their jobs, serving and protecting all of us, and in return for that, they were shot."
Maness testified that he felt a burning sensation in his back and realized he had been hit by the shots Peters fired through his closed front door.
Maness took cover behind a minivan parked in Peters' driveway, and Satkiewicz said she had been hit in the chest and leg.
The third deputy, Eric Luna, returned from the rear of Peters' home and returned fire while Maness made a break for his squad car to get a bigger gun.
"I knew at the time we needed to even the odds," Maness testified. "I needed to get my rifle."
But he was shot in his left leg and crumpled to the pavement, losing his pistol in the process. Maness, a retired 20-year Army veteran who fought in the first Gulf War in the early 1990s, crawled on his belly through a break in a nearby fence and into a ditch.
An Island Lake Police Officer who responded to the scene tightened a tourniquet around Maness' leg and dragged him to safety.
Photos from the scene later in the day still showed a pool of blood on the pavement and a wavy red line showing the path along which Maness was moved.
Satkiewicz, who was shot in the left leg, also testified Tuesday, describing how a downed Maness called for help, but she had dropped her keys and could not get back into her squad car.
"There were shots coming through the door and we could hear glass breaking," she tearfully testified, adding a bullet whizzed by her head as she escaped. "I just felt it. It was inches from my head. Had I turned to the right, it would have hit me."
Luna, the third deputy, also testified. He said he took cover near Maness, and fired eight shots toward the gunman. Luna said the gunman yelled out, "I'm a U.S. Army paratrooper. I hope you're ready to die because I am."
Peters was tracked down near Route 176 and Smith Road in Crystal Lake, about six miles from his home.
Officers who arrested Peters testified he was cooperative, acknowledging he was the one police were looking for.
Peters had an "expert" rifle rating while serving in the Army from February 1980 through May 1983 but was listed as going AWOL twice, "desertion" once and spent more than 40 days in military jail.
Peters has been held on $1 million bail since his arrest, and faces up to life in prison if convicted.
His trial in front of Judge Sharon Prather is expected to run through week's end.