I recently had a student contact me with details about an incident he was involved in. He agreed to share his account of it, with name and location removed. It’s an excellent reminder of why awareness and “managing unknown contacts” (a skill we discuss in our Personal Tactics Skills course) are so important to avoiding situations that might deteriorate into more serious actions.
I recently had an experience that confirmed why I carry a firearm for defense and why I train physically and mentally to respond to a bad situation that I hope never happens.
I was taking my usual workday lunchtime walk, and noticed a guy walking my direction that pinged my possible threat radar. The items that caught my attention were: big unzipped black hoodie, generally sloppy looking, and something about his walking gait that I just did not like. So, I gave him the sidewalk as he went by and nodded politely when he made eye contact. He continued his way, as did I. I thought it was over and a non-event. I was wrong.
On my return leg back to the office, I noticed the same guy ahead of me again, this time traveling the same direction I was. I slowed my roll a little to re-assess and he stopped and looked over his shoulder at me. At this point I realized I really did not like what was happening. The sidewalk we were on was on a busy street. On the other side of the sidewalk was a construction site. He then walked on a few more feet and sat down on a piece of construction equipment that was just off the sidewalk and took another look at me. At this point my only route was past this guy. So, I slowed up until I had a bit of a space in traffic to my left (in case I got forced into the street), I dropped my hand into my pocket and took a light grip in my little S&W 642, which is what I carry most days. I then began to move past with purpose.
The moment I passed him I saw his body tense up and start to move, so I took a big step off his axis and spun to meet the threat. He had tried to lunge; my best guess was to push me into the street/traffic. I put my non-dominant hand up close to my body in a conciliatory gesture and said “have a nice day man” as I backed away to create space. At this point he started moving toward me yelling “Are you ready for Hell? I’m gonna send you to Hell! Heaven is waiting for me! Hell is about to take you! etc.” All the while, he was moving toward me making lunging moves, and gesturing with his hands like he wanted to attack. I kept creating space and just shook my head at him without saying anything and watching his hands closely. In that moment if he had reached in his hoodie or made any other indication of bringing a weapon into play, I would have fully drawn my gun (which by now I had a firm grip on and was nearly clear of the pocket holster). This went on for about 10 seconds before he seemed to stop for a second and he suddenly took off to a tattoo shop that was just close by. At this point, I got out of the area quickly. I was back in my office parking lot within another 10 seconds and had reached for my phone to dial 911. I checked my 6 again and noticed that he was running back again, yelling and shooting the finger at me, so I got inside behind a locked door and made my 911 call. I did let the 911 operator know that I was a licensed carrier and was armed but had not drawn or used my weapon. I told her that prior to speaking with the officers, I would secure my weapon and it would not be on my person when I they arrived. She communicated this with the officers in the responding unit. When they arrived, I went out and we had the conversation. I had my license ready for their inspection and offered it. The whole conversation went smoothly, and they were quite supportive, even complimenting me for my self- control. The adrenaline dump started to hit right around that time, and once the I was done talking to the police I went home for the day, and a badly needed whiskey drink!
Since the incident I have seen the offender hanging around the area of my office quite frequently. He appears to be staying with someone in the area and may be with us for a while. I no longer take walks, and we always watch out for each other when we leave the office to go to our cars. The incident has caused out company to review safety protocols and improve surveillance camera coverage around our building. I am grateful for the training I have received from some amazing coaches who helped me be better prepared for what happened. These folks are Karl Rehn of KR Training, John Correia of Active Self Protection and my shooting coach, Joe French. Karl has provided me with outstanding training on how to use my firearm in a defensive situation. Karl also turned me on to John’s YouTube channel, which has been invaluable in helping me improve situational awareness, adopt a serious attitude as a self-defender and to better understand the dynamics of defensive incidents. I look forward to one day being able to train with him in person. Joe has helped me improve my shooting skills tremendously, particularly with the little snubbie I carry. It takes a lot of work to get competent with these little tools and having the confidence of knowing I could take care of business with the little thing made a huge difference in my mindset that day. Most of all, I thank my Lord Jesus Christ for being my Rock and for being so good to me despite me.
I was very fortunate that day. I went home and got to hug on my kids and kiss my wife. That is what matters. I have a long way to go on this journey of learning to protect myself and my family. I hope nothing like this happens again, but I now know even more clearly that I absolutely must continue to grow my skills, attitude, and spiritual fitness. You never know what is going to happen or how it’s going to go. You cannot be over-prepared to defend your life or those you love.
After discussing the incident with the student, I encouraged him to carry pepper spray in addition to his firearm, as it could be a very useful intermediate tool in dealing with a potentially mentally unstable person such as the one he encountered.
Also, when carrying a snub revolver, having a “speed strip” with additional rounds with you is a good idea. Reloading the revolver this way is significantly slower than changing the magazine on a semiauto or using a revolver speedloader, but the strip carries very flat and small in the pocket and provides some capability to reload the gun if needed. This excellent article from Lucky Gunner explains the correct procedure for using this type of loader with a revolver.
Special thanks to the student for taking the time to write this up and share it.