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Old February 3, 2006, 10:57 AM   #1
tjhands
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My biggest scare EVER.

This happened two nights ago. I'm just now getting ready to talk about it.

It was around 11:30pm and my wife and I were in bed asleep. I awoke to the sound of (what I thought was) someone breaking through the side door of the attached garage and entering the house. It took me at least ten seconds to wake up sufficiently enough that I felt certain I had not dreamed the sound. My wife was awake too, and asked quietly, "what the hell was that?" I got real scared, real fast.

As I picked up my Mossberg 500 12 gauge, I heard the stairs squeak. I know the sounds that my house makes, and this squeak was the third stair heading to the basement - away from us. I handed my wife the Ruger P97 (she knows how to use it), told her to stay put, and went down the hall and positioned myself at the top of the stairs, with the gun pointed down the way the person had gone.

A million things were clouding my head as I sat there! I cursed myself for not telling my wife to dial 911 on the cell phone that was sitting right next to her on the headboard. Every time I had imagined a break-in scenario, that was ALWAYS the first thing I planned to do.....and I forgot to do it in my panic/grogginess. I remember sitting there at the top of the stairs thinking, "God, I hope I don't have to shoot somebody tonight." I couldn't believe it was actually happening to us. I imagined sirens and red and blue lights bouncing off the houses in the midnight hour. I pictured a stretcher being rolled out to an ambulance. I thought of so many things all at once.

Whoever was downstairs pulled a chain and a soft light filled the basement. Then I heard muffled talking. Couldn't make out a single word that he or they were saying. I debated yelling down at them that I was armed, but chose to just be quiet as I knew there was no other way out of the house except the way I had the shotgun pointed. I was mostly hidden behind the wall in a crouched position with just my head, arm, and gun exposed. I was shaking and was happy that I had the shotgun instead of the pistol.

When I heard the sound of a pop or beer can being opened, it started my mind turning in a different direction. One of my friends, whom I hadn't seen or spoken to for a few months, is prone to copious drinking binges. We all make it a point to not drink when he is at our house, as he gets out of control with the quantity he drinks.

The muttering continued and I thought I recognized it as his "drunk" voice. I said his name and he said, "yeah?" I put the safety on and went downstairs to find him sitting in the Lazy Boy with beer in hand, talking to himself. Either out of thankfulness for not having shot someone, or out of the climax of the situation having passed, or just pity for my alcoholic friend, I felt tears running down my face as I set the gun down and plopped onto the couch. It was such a strange feeling - I can't describe it.

He had pulled a Homer-Simpson-coming-home-from-Moe's and had parked half in the driveway and half in my front yard. He remembered where I keep the key for the side door and had actually used it to get in. The loud noise we had heard was him tripping over the step and falling through the opened door onto the floor.

I drove him home in his car while my wife following in ours to bring me back home after dropping him off. I didn't yell at him that night, but yesterday I called him up and lit into him pretty good about it. The first thing he said was, "that really HAPPENED? I thought I had DREAMED it." I hope the guy gets some help.

For us it was all TOO real, and although I'm happy it turned out OK, it did reveal some flaws in my actions and plans.
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Old February 3, 2006, 11:05 AM   #2
Psycho Magnet
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Damn man, I'm glad you kept your head though. 911 call or not that could have turned out a lot worse.
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Old February 3, 2006, 11:13 AM   #3
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Well at least you had a sort of happy ending to all this. I had some friends with similar issues. Its a lesson learned, but you did well taking a defensive position at the top of the stairs.

I know some people do this, but I would never leave a key to the house hidden somewhere outside. What if someone else with bad intentions finds it. What if your friend was drunk but for some reason in his drunken state was angry at you and wanted to do you harm and your wife. I rely on the fact that someone has to physically break something or make noise to get into my house.
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Old February 3, 2006, 11:22 AM   #4
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Yeah, thank God it turned out okay for everyone. I think you did VERY well under the circumstances. No matter what we SAY we will do, we 90% of the time revert to what we TRAIN to do in those life or death situations.

The only thing that gives me the creeps about the whole thing, is that you actually keep a key outside your home. Man.....I could never do that. I wouldn't be able to sleep. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I LOST a key once, didn't have any idea where, and couldn't sleep till I changed the locks....
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Old February 3, 2006, 11:49 AM   #5
tjhands
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Of course, everyone who hides a key outside the house thinks the hiding spot is so brilliantly clever that no person could EVER find it. I think you guys may be right. My wife and I will rethink that one.
Thanks for the kind words, too. I don't know why it is - or was - difficult to talk about. Nobody was hurt. Heck, my finger never once even touched the trigger. I think it's a feeling of vulnerability that I can't shake. While I was sitting there at the top of the stairs, I felt so VIOLATED. Violated because of the thought that some dumb jerk may, in the coming minutes, force me (ME!) to take a human life. And that would be something that would mess with my head for the rest of my life.
I know I should get over it and just thank God that it turned out fine, but all my memories of it dance around that one minute as I sat there thinking about killing a person.
I'm normally an upbeat guy, but I've been in a "funk" the past two days. My wife is totally fine; she slept like baby that night and last night, while I laid there thinking about what a fine line we walk. This'll take some time to get over, I think.
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Old February 3, 2006, 12:36 PM   #6
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TJ, You did well.

Even with forgetting to call 911 - which in review would have probably complicated things as it turns out - you formulated a plan, carried it out and kept track of changing conditions. Nor did you panic and shoot old Homer before finding out what was really happening.

Now, the effects you are feeling are normal. You were scared to the practical limit. No need to be ashamed or uncomfortable with being scared; being scared is God's way of telling you of danger. However, as there was no major 'relief' from the incident, you are still holding some of that fear, and resentment - resentment of being scared out of your wits by a friend and resentment of being all twisted up to possibly shoot someone. It's normal.

Quite possibly, the act of telling us all can act as a release, and you should be back to normal shortly. If not, you might schedule an appointment with a counsellor and talk it out. Even your pastor or some other trusted friend would probably work.

By the way; You did very well.
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Old February 3, 2006, 12:44 PM   #7
tjhands
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Archie, thanks for that. Yes, I do think that writing about it has been cathartic in a way. Feeling better already.
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Old February 3, 2006, 12:57 PM   #8
R1145
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One word: Intervention

Get your buddy into AA/rehab. This was his problem, not yours.

Pilots say, "Any landing you walk away from is a good one," and I suppose that applies to self-defense situations.

Don't focus on the negative. The reason this incident turned out OK was a direct result of the planning you did to defend your home.

You had a plan. You did not panic. You exercised good judgement.

If anything, this was a good thing, because it provides you with some assessment of your home defense plan.

Clearly, police should be notified immediately. That did not happen, in spite of the plan. Probably, delegate that task to Honorable Wife.

Re-evaluate having a key hidden outside. At least, make sure only you and your wife know where it is (I'd trust my kids, but not necessarily all of their friends, who WILL find out about it).

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Old February 3, 2006, 01:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Clearly, police should be notified immediately. That did not happen, in spite of the plan. Probably, delegate that task to Honorable Wife.
I'd agree. Talk to her now and set it up that she should call 911 the next time a situation like that arises.
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Old February 3, 2006, 01:45 PM   #10
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tj,

I'm glad no one was hurt. You showed a lot of restraint. I hope your friend gets help. At least he can recover from alcoholism. I'm not so sure he could recover from getting blasted by by a shotgun!

Do you have an alarm? We set it everytime we leave the house and usually set it at night (sometimes we forget). This will give you a little more time to react in case you are a sound sleeper and may just well scare off the bad guy. Our house is monitored by a central station and the police resonse time is pretty darn good out here. I think it is between 5 and 10 minutes. I think it is worth the money.

I also have an 80 lb. akita that alerts us if something is up. They don't bark much unless there is someone there. She could probably handle the problem by herself but I'm one of those "forget the dog, beware of owner" types.

Like other people have mentioned, reconsider your spare key idea. I would consider putting one on my dog's collar. You had better know her pretty well before grabbing the key unless you want your arm torn off.
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Old February 3, 2006, 02:00 PM   #11
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Kudos to you. You kept your wits about you and remained in the defensive, without even attempting to escalate the situation. You remained in a mode of observation and you were able to recognize that it was not, in fact, a threat, and responded accordingly. Do an after action report/debrief with your wife if you haven't already, and if you really want the cops called (I don't, steam cleaning is cheaper than door frames), delegate that to the wife and have that as her primary responsibility.
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Old February 3, 2006, 02:10 PM   #12
NBT
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Wow that ending totally ruined it, the first part of the story was creepy and exciting at the same time!

But it's best it turned out that way...
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Old February 3, 2006, 02:12 PM   #13
High Planes Drifter
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You might consider giving a spare key to a trusted neighbor if its important that a spare be had at all.

And leave the beer cooler outside from now on
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Old February 3, 2006, 02:24 PM   #14
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Good job, TJ! You know now that you won't always do what you think you'll do when things go South.

On the key issue, I've locked myself out of the house on several occasions, and I also had a key in what I thought was a "hidden" location. That was, until I had the opportunity to interview a couple of professional burglars. These guys were good! They had slipped the noose numerous times before getting caught. One of their techniques was to look for that "hidden" key, and they were damned good at it.

That got me thinking. The solution came when I replaced my garage door and opener. I had a keypad opener mounted outside, and by using a relay, a spotlight goes on to illuminate the keypad area when there's an attempt to use it. No more hidden keys for me!

Keypads today are usually wireless and can be added as an aftermarket accessory to most of the newer openers. Food for thought.
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Old February 3, 2006, 02:55 PM   #15
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Glad to hear it all worked out okay. Just reading the story, I could almost feel the butterflies forming in my stomach as the adrenaline rushes into the bloodstream.

Seems to me your buddy was double lucky. Not only did he not get shot, but your forgetting to call 911 probably saved him the trouble of a DUI or DWI.

Good job keeping your cool.
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Old February 3, 2006, 04:06 PM   #16
tjhands
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Thanks everyone.
We won't be keeping the key out there anymore. When enough people know where it is, it becomes a matter of when not if something like this will happen. I realize that now.
So glad I keep the guns easily accessible. We don't have children so we needn't think about locks, finger pad safes and the like. If I didn't have those guns nearby, I would have had no choice but to call 911 and wait for them to come out and protect and serve. That would have been a painfully long wait. LOL, I think he'd have stayed down there and drunk my fridge dry in the interim.
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Old February 3, 2006, 07:42 PM   #17
DerDer
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I would have grabbed an AK and pointed it right in his face (Out of instinct).

But seriously, if something like that happened I would just push it to the back of my mind to a dream-like memory, like the drunk guy.

Tonight I am looking forward to a sobor evening after which I'll make sweet love to my wife.

Glad everything turned out allright.
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Old February 3, 2006, 08:59 PM   #18
JakeMate
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Kiss your wife.
Scold your friend again.
Get your friend some help.
Re-hide your key in a new spot.
Kiss your wife again.
Pat yourself on the back for getting through the situation and learning from it.

Next time, you'll be even more prepared. Read On Combat if you need help figuring out some of the physical things your body went through during the situation.
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Old February 4, 2006, 05:05 AM   #19
Sir William
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This is a fine reason for a 4 legged alarm system. I had a idiot do the same thing many years ago. I let the dog handle it. He did. The idiot didn't come back to my place again. The dog had his shots. The idiot went downhill, hit bottom and has a dead end pizza delivery job. He still drinks too much. Tell that guy to pull it together or push off. You survived. That is the goal.
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Old February 4, 2006, 06:14 AM   #20
Weeg
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Even a friend doesn't just drop by like that, unannounced, in the middle of the night, without a courtesy PHONE CALL


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Old February 5, 2006, 02:40 AM   #21
Sun Tzu
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AKitas

Brother,

Nice happy ending to a great real life story. YOU & your wife should get a dog or two. I own 2 Akitas a male & female they are brother & sister. At 115lbs & 85lbs respectively they can handle their business w/ease. W/good locks, guns and some dogs everymans house can become his secured castle...

Late, S Tzu

Never relinquish your "instruments of ill omen" for w/out them we are mere slaves of the state...
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Old February 5, 2006, 03:06 AM   #22
GlocksRfun
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Hind sight is 20/20.. with that said, u picked up on what didn't go as planned and the small oversights. looking at the big picture, U were ready to and did a good jb of protecting yourself and family. Good job, it's real easy for us to pick apart what u did or didn't do or did wrong or what not, But when it came time for action, u acted and sounds like u kept ur cool. When the going got tough, u took it like a man and did what had to be done. Luckily it all turned out OK and no one got hurt.
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