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.
Criminals do not want a fight; they want a victim. That’s one reason many crooks target the over-65 crowd. In Elderon, Wisconsin, a 79-year-old man went to the mall to pick up a few things. A 22-year-old man was scouting for victims at the same mall and followed the shopper home. When the older man got out of his car, the attacker raced up and stabbed him in the face.
While bleeding from the face, the defender retrieved his firearm and fired one shot at the assailant. The attacker then overpowered the man, twisted the gun out of his grip and ran away. The injured shopper called the police to report the incident. Hours later, the attacker was found dead in his car from one gunshot wound to the chest. No charges were filed.
What extra safety measures do you employ during holiday shopping season? What precautions do you take to ensure sure you aren’t being followed into your home?
I look at who is behind me as I am approaching the turn into my neighborhood. If any cars enter the neighborhood behind me that I don’t recognize as belonging in my neighborhood, and [redacted opsec] I drive past my house and go [opsec] to see what’s up
Shopping safely is hard for older people these days. They get used to live in old good times when you just went for shipping and came back home, not even thinking about bad things that might happen… because usually nothing happened.
These days everything changes.
- I park my car on the spot that gives me plenty of room to react and use cart as a divider between me and assailant
- I always look around who is close to me and my car, perhaps somebody is sitting in the car next to mine?
- I always check rear view mirror for cars which may drive too long the same route as me, especially close to my house
- Whenever I see car following me I never drive directly to my location. I have at least 4 different routers I can choose from so I drive as long different routers as I get rid of that car
I experienced to be followed several times after shopping.
I’m not an old person yet, so I know how to deal with this without fear.
Usually driving through Police station parking lot (which is close to my house) fixed all such issues.
It’s always funny to see those cars going after mine when I do this… that’s a heck of confusion to them.
Along with being a good example of making sure to be aware of your surroundings and everyone in them, this also shows that one shot from a handgun (even an eventually lethal shot) has no guarantee of stopping a determined attacker. Self defense instructors often teach to keep firing until the threat has stopped.
I don’t know if the victim in this case had a chance to get off more than one shot. But knowing that handgun rounds have a low probability of immediately stopping determined threats I train to fire as quickly and accurately as I can until the threat is clearly stopped.
Having said all that I definitely give this older person a ton of credit for their ability to deploy a firearm and hit their target while being attacked by a much younger opponent. It very likely saved their life.
I make eye contact with everyone and if someone seems out of place I find out what the situation is and take appropriate measures.
I shop on-line for the majority of all purchases. For groceries, my wife places on-line orders and we remain in the car while an employee from the store loads it with our order (thanks, COVID for the new service!). I moved to a rural area to escape the cesspit that cities are becoming. Crooks don’t follow me on my 2-hour drive home. And, their low-slung cars can’t make it over the washboards on the 2-mile dirt road leading to my house.
That’s an easy one. Been doing that for decades. If someone continues to follow, drive right to the police station or a fire station. Never let the follower know where you live.
To work backwords a little bit, in general but even moreso during holiday/shopping times I suppose,
*Notice who is noticing you
*Park away from other cars
*Look around before you park, and before you get out of your car, and right after getting out of your car. All are opportune times to decide you need to be somewhere else and reverse course if you get the wrong sense (trust your gut), especially since you aren’t parking near others (whenever possible park away from other cars)
*Be aware of others when going back to your car, look through any glass/windows/doors you can before going through doorways, look at people in the parking lot to see if anyone is out of place (are they going between building and their car, look right, are they looking at you too muich, just hanging around, looking at others…etc)
In general be aware, be off your phone, and notice what people are doing/not doing, trust your gut, avoidance is the most powerful strategy when possible
when going back to my car during night time, I flash my flashlight around, see who’s standing behind vehicles, inside vehicles, check the surrounding vehicles near my car, and then when I approach my car, I make sure nobody is in the backseat before getting in.
People give me a lot of ■■■■ for it, and say “Ain’t nobody going to rob you out here.” or “You look like a cop.” “There’s no reason to have a bright flashlight like that.”
I’ve used my flashlight as a use of force option more times than I can count. People simply associate the light with law enforcement, and run the other way.
Friends tell me worry about yourself and not what other people are doing.
You have to be aware of your surroundings, you have to know what is going on around you, and you have to have a set of defensive measures to avoid, evade, de-esculate, and defend to stay safe.
I watch my driveway about 50 yards away then overshoot so I get a clear view of the side of the house where people could hide. Then, make a turn only when it’s clear.
I had to learn this as my habit of minding my own business made me not look people in the eye, also had to overcome the “it’s rude to stare” part of my childhood.
Isn’t screwed up how we are constantly conditioned to mind our own business, not pay attention to other people, told not to carry weapons, and then we find a community such as USCCA, and change our mindset to make ourselves better protectors, but we’re surrounded by people still in the same mindset as before.
I think about this all the time now my Dad is 79 and lives on his own. He loves going to the casino and I am always afraid someone will follow him home and In Milwaukee a lot of the houses have garages that are detached and you use an alley to access the Garage. Not a lot of traffic and easy pickings for a criminal to jump him.
Staying off your phone in public is probably the single most effective thing you can do to increase your awareness!
I think I prefer the wait your turn, when he turns his head mow the MF’er down response
I learned to pick up a vehicle tail from watching too many spy movies. Cheesy, but it works. It’s easy enough to do because most people don’t have the training to follow a car stealthily. I’m working on getting better two or three cars back.
Thankfully, there are multiple entrances to my subdivision, and the roads leading up to it are in a grid formation. The one time I caught someone following me, I simply made an S up and down the grid until they left. Must have figured I was on to them by the third turn. If they hadn’t quit, I probably would have called 911 and asked where the nearest sheriff unit was so I could meet a deputy. I don’t live anywhere near a station.
People are right, but they don’t put emphasis on the right word. Ain’t nobody going to rob you out there.
Be extra vigilant in situational awareness in Transistional areas. Especially coming home, gas stations, and store parking lots. When you are driving take the time to change lanes and see if someone behind you changes lanes too. When arriving to your home if someone is behind you continue on and circle around and see if they follow you.
On returning home after work a car is behind me and I was about to continue driving but it was my next-door neighbor. I actually waited for him to pull in his driveway before I pulled in. I even always take different ways home and never be predictable on my leaving for work or going home. I was taught this when I was training to get into law enforcement. Being aware is key. Some say I might be paranoid, but it is just that I was followed by a private detective. My fiancé’s parents hired one on me to have me followed. They never did like me but that is okay, we never did get married.
Just remember, they will strike when you are at your weakest point and not paying attention.
Sounds like the counter terrorism drills they taught us in Europe during the cold war…
Don’t use weapons
- Company policy prohibits weapons in a store.
- Weapons breed violence
- The robber’s weapon is already one too many
Hmm, well, OK. You do realize that was written by folks back in the multi story headquarters building, who are not working the 10 pm to 6 am shift in a store, right?
- If the robber is already pointing a gun at you and looking in your direction, do not try to draw your own. You are not going to beat his trigger time with your draw time.
- You should know your time to draw and fire accurately to figure out how far distracted the robber must be to give you time to do so.
- If you have been robbed at gunpoint, do you really want to keep working for that store?