The Aftermath: Knife Beats Cane

Welcome to Aftermath, a portion of our First Line email newsletter where Attorney Anthony L. DeWitt walks you through a real-life self-defense incident and shares his key takeaways.

Knife Beats Cane

According to CBS Philly Channel 3 News, an unidentified teen was home alone when a 48-year-old man forced his way inside and began beating the boy with a metal cane. The youth fought back with the instrument that was handy: a knife. After multiple blows from a metal cane, the youth stabbed the intruder several times and called the police. Both were taken to the hospital where the intruder later died from multiple stab wounds. The teen was not charged.

In Review

See what Attorney DeWitt’s key takeaways are in the full First Line email from the USCCA.

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What did the man in this incident do right? What would you have done differently?

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What did the teen in this incident do right? What would you have done differently?

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This review is a bit off in my opinion. First the number of stab wounds necessary is absolutely no different that any other instrument from fists to firearms. There is nothing unique. You cannot hit, shoot, stab more than reasonable and necessary.

Next, why would age have anything to do with it?

Third, hiding and barricading may not be the best option. It is an option. This is contrary to all run, hide, fight training in existence. You choose the right tactic for the right situation.

Lastly, you should train teens to respond to a deadly attack with deadly force, not pepper spray.

The author should have not been so dogmatic. Retreat and barricading May have been a better option. Like any other tool, you can’t user it longer or more than necessary, etc.


He protected his self by using the knife. How many times he stabbed the attacker would have been noted and could have created some problems.

He should have made a single stab to the side of the neck if possible, or to the throat , if not the inter side of of the leg near the testicles. You want to totally disable the person.

You did not indicate if the boy was on the ground, standing up, moving away from the attacker or just using his fist to fight back.

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not all people have safe rooms most rooms dont have good locks for protection to run and hide might give enough time to call police but how long will that take. teach your teens about firearms and how to protect themselves. would you want your child dead or illegal my son is very aware what to do in that case and how to go about it. many parents shelter their children. Im of the opinion we do them a disservice in this manner.


No different than The statement each bullet fired has an “attorney attached to it” is each defensively delivered stab wound. The issue with this well known concept is that unless you are a doctor and unless you know exactly what that blade severed (which you do not) stay in the fight delivering as many defensive rounds or defensive stab wounds as possible until the threat has clearly stopped.

Not a fan of OC spray indoors for obvious reasons. Self contamination would likely occur and the victim would become defenseless. If this is the only option foam would be recommended.

Avoid, de-escalate if all fails - deliver until the threat stops.

Stay safe!


Any movement should not be tolerated - put the attacker down and do not permit them to get up. Agree with your quote.


Pepper spray is not always effective on a perpetrator. The boy should have just retreated unless he was armed with a handgun.

Too little info here. A grown man beats a ( child?) teen with a cane. How many wounds are several? What’s a multitude? Most homes I’ve seen ; the entrance doors are the most secure. Flee, hide, barricade while someone is beating you? My favorite , pepper spray indoors. Really? Teen used what was there, saved himself. Teach your children well…


First is a statement inferring that leaving teens home alone is a bad idea. Maybe at just turned 13 and no idea of what to do. Typically teens are mature enough to stay home alone. Second, I did not see anything about why there were multiple stab wounds, was the last wound the one that dropped the attacker? If so, then that many is necessary. When being beaten by a larger attacker (?, it doesn’t say) one does not get the luxury of placing knife wounds for perfect effect, take the part of the body you get, closest target closest weapon. Some will not immediately have an effect.
Hats off to the young man who is willing to fight if he has to and to kept going when taking a beating. Great job ! ! !
Sounds like someone raised him right.
Now if he had a gun and some training he would not have had to take the beating. What a difference double barrel .410 would make. Good chance the attacker would have run, and if he didn’t, don’t miss 'cause he’s nuts.Yes, I know, the boy would have to be mature enough to have access to a shotgun.


Not sure what kind of interior doors one may have in their house - typical builder grade hollow core or nice solid wood interior doors like my house - but one thing is for sure, none of them can withstand a good kick or two… so retreat and lock is not so hot an idea if bad guy intends to do harm. Arguing one or two stabs vs. multiple doesn’t take into consideration the state of mind of the victim. A scared witless individual who isn’t trained in mindset management and how to cope with physical attack might very well have no idea how many stabs they inflict (or shots they fire) it is pure adrenaline, fight-or-flight response, “fog of war”, whatever you want to call it where the mind literally blanks out for a few. We’ve all seen it when a bee/wasp flies up in someones face and they scream like a little kid, flailing arms - you just go and don’t even realize what you were doing until someone tells you.


A few random thoughts:

  1. Metal cane: Deadly weapon (v) “Handy” weapon: Knife (equally deadly).
  2. 48 y/o male attacker v. “Teen” male: Possible / Probable Disparity of Force.
  3. Home invasion=Castle Doctrine / Stand Your Ground
  4. “Teen” stabs multiple times after being hit with metal cane several times. Appears not to have ‘escalated‘ initially: de facto de-escalation attempt?
  5. Teen- No legal access to a firearm…(Perhaps would have caused legal issues for parent / guardian if he did have access.)

Bottom line:
A) If the attacker made entrance to the home, he probably would have made entrance to any room the “teen” may have run to. Poor choice to run/hide in my opinion.
B) No difference in legal outcome had he used a baseball bat, skillet, knife or firearm*, most likely.
C) The “teen” clearly was in imminent danger of gross bodily harm or death and most likely was in fear of such. Fighting back with the “ handy” tool was probably the best choice he could have made given what we know, in my opinion.
D) Victim Services (if available) should pay for this kid’s counseling for as long as necessary.

Summary: No child - and a teen is a child, cognitively / developmentally and depending on age and other factors, physically, should have to endure this. Perhaps the ability to rationally ascertain the extent of damage a knife could do, and that death could be an ultimate outcome, was overshadowed by the “fight or flight” instinctual reaction present in all humans.

That said, it is what it is and I would hope the trauma he has gone through, both physically and psychologically, isn’t long-lasting.

*most likely


Sounds like an answer begging for a question. A person beaten to the point of needing a trip to the hospital defends themselves with what is at hand and lives to tell the story, Sounds about right to me.


@John64 and @George98 pretty much summed it up.
Ne’er do well picked the wrong house and, IMO, got his just comeuppance.


Not knowing the age, physical strength, maturity or mind-set of the youth it is impossible to advise proper action. To merely say retreat, run-away, hide in a safe room and call 911 could have future ramifications for him if it became the action of choice in all questionable situations as an adult. Assuming he/she was capable (having ready access to a knife suggests so) I will assume the age was in the upper half of the teens. Further, given the success of the defensive measure I will assume physical capability. Given the action taken, I will assume proper mind set (that being self protection at any cost). I respectfully disagree with Attorney DeWitt on this matter.

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The one thing that is not addressed is motive/reason for the attack. Why would a 48-yr-old man "break into the house, to then beat the teenager with a cain?
The whole story is not being told (a common practice of MSM omissions). In my assessment, these two had history, bad blood, an encounter gone wrong.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Self-defense is a Creator-given right. I found the assailant’s choice of weapon… interesting; **A cain, ** which suggests a possible disability. Hmmm…
We read here from point of break-in, to confrontation, to hospitalization, to assailant dying from multiple stab wounds, to the “teen”(term used broadly) not being charged.
This case was not random. I can’t “determine” whether the teen was justified, or not; nor can I determine the cause for the initial attack. I wasn’t there. However, the story is fishy for its lack of pretty important details. In the criminal justice system, nothing is as simple as it might seem. Too much murky gray…
Was the man totally evil… or psychologically unstable? Was the teen totally innocent, and simply the victim of a home invasion attack? With Double Jeopardy, we may never know.
Sorry for the downer comment, dear USCCA family, but as an investigator, I’m just not certain.


Where do you get “DOUBLE JEOPARDY” from in this case? (Or non-case, as the case may be.) That’s a lot of ‘cases’…:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Not knowing the age of the teenager (experience a concern) or why the 48-year-old man was able to enter the home or why he had with him a metal cane (needed it for his ailment?), even the physical difference in the two individuals not discussed, so what would I do differently?

Avoidance it not always a first or even possible choice, although attorney DeWitt is correct in stating it as a good choice. Let’s consider the teen as young and in fear for his life from a much larger assailant (let’s also infer), escaping to the Kitchen (?) to obtain a knife while being pursued (?) by his assailant gives the youngster a chance for defense. If he did not know the man (?), multiple stab wounds would be likely, since he was pumping adrenalin, was in pain, and had little awareness of what it would take to stop the attack. Escaping to a room with a door would delay his attacker, but then he is merely cornered. Could he get out of the house? The teen’s thought processes are only to choose a better weapon for defense than the metal cane. The police were correct in not charging the youngster.

In a similar circumstance, I might have retreated upstairs (?) to my room, barricaded the door and escaped through a window. Stairs and door would delay attacker and give me time for this action. No stairs? Use whatever furniture and throwable objects (lamps, for example) I could to distract and delay approach of attacker as I found an outside door to exit house. Go to neighbor, call police.


@Brian175 Welcome to the community and USCCA

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Welcome to the family brother and god bless you.

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Hind sight is usually 20-20. A sofa commando might have an incredible response to how to deal with such a situation. The variables are many and how a person may think they will respond may actually be different upon being in such a situation. What could you have on hand or near by to protect yourself if escape was not available? A baseball bat comes to mind because I am watching baseball right now. Escape and evading is always the first thing on the agenda. calling 9-1-1 comes into play at this time. This is why it is good to go through scenarios in your mind to have a plan for different situations. What would you do if a man steps in your front door and asks if you got any money holding a knife?