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Old December 22, 2009, 10:05 AM   #1
QCBrob
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Recent scare...

I thought I'd share an incident that happened last month when a frightened neighbor called my house for help.

Brief background: We live in a cul-de-sac in an older, middle-class neighborhood. As a result of the economy, we've had a small number of foreclosures in the neighborhood These properties were purchased after foreclosure and then used as rentals (of course, we aren't real happy about that, but what can you do..). Anyway, with the new rentals came some semi-shady residents. Not long after, things started to disappear from garages and there were a few incidents of vandalism and a burlary. As a result, the mood in the neighborhood had been a little on-edge.

On the night of the "scare", I had just fallen asleep to the History Channel in the bedroom, and my kids had been asleep for some time. I was awakened by a ringing phone followed by my wife telling me to go next door. Apparently the older lady who lives beside us (whose husband does not return to work until midnight), heard a loud noise against her back door and her dog was barking and growling in response. She was convinced that someone was attempting to gain entry. I told my wife to take herself, the phone, and the kids into the bedroom furthest away from the direction of my neighbor's home and to call the neighbor back to tell her to go into her own upstairs bedroom while remaining on the phone with my wife, and to tell her that I would be approaching the rear of her home from the direction of my house and would be armed.

Once my wife and neighbor were on the phone I left my own house with my
Kimber .45, the only firearm I owned at that time. I had a round in the pipe and the saftey "on". As I approached the back door of the neighbors house, (very dark and heavily wooded yard) I saw a tall figure in the dark, walking slowly and quietly in the opposite direction. I thumbed off the safety and loudly said "Stop. Identify yourself!". I was holding the gun in the low-ready position.

In response, the shadow-figure identified himself as the older lady's OTHER next-door neighbor. I recognized the voice immediately, put the safety back "on" and asked him what he was doing. He stated that the neighbor lady had ALSO called HIM when she heard the noise. Of course, neighbor lady didn't tell either one of us that she had called the other. I tucked the Kimber into the back of my pants and we checked out the area. Nothing looked amiss and we attributed the noise to a raccoon or similar varmint.

We rang the neighbor's doorbell and told her all seemed well. I also told her to let us know next time WHO ELSE she had called asking for help!

Although I wouldn't call this a "close call" as I never leveled the firearm at the "intruder", never felt in danger, remained very calm and was able to identify the LACK of a threat prior to any "fight or flight" decisions, I thought afterward about all of the ways the situation COULD have gone very bad - especially in light of the heightened nervousness in the neighborhood. Nonetheless, it was a very valuable learning experience.

As a side note, the other week my wife called the house from outside in the neighborhood while jogging. She told me that an unfamiliar red SUV was driving slowly through the neighborhood with the occupants looking around in a suspicious manner. The vehicle had passed her twice and was heading for our cul-de-sac and she wanted to make sure that the kids and me were inside. I looked out the front window and saw the SUV parked in front of a house whose occupants were out of town. I recognized the SUV from passing it in the neighborhood when I was returning from work earlier in the day and remembered being a bit suspicious of the decrepit vehicle and it's sketchy-looking occupants. It was already dark and the street in front of that house was entirely shadowed from trees. I watched as the SUV stayed parked for several minutes. Two individuals then exited the vehicle and went behind the house - returning to the SUV a few minutes later. I called 911 to report a possible burglary. As I continued to watch and wait for the police response, the two individuals made two more trips behind the house, returning to the vehicle each time but appearing to be empty-handed.

After TWENTY FIVE minutes, a single sherrif's cruiser entered the cul-de sac. The SUV's lights immediately came on and the car began to move. The deputy turned his lights on and stopped the vehicle. He checked their ID's and kept them for about 20 minutes, following them out of the neighborhood afterward. I never found out what the deal was or what may have been going on, but the point is, the sherrif's dept was in no hurry to get there! Another good lesson.

Just thought I'd share.
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Old December 22, 2009, 10:39 AM   #2
bird_dog
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A couple of things stand out at me. I haven't visited this site in a few years, so feel free to disregard anything I say, but here goes:

You took the safety off because you saw someone in the dark? Seriously? Good thing it WASN'T the police.

Also "renters" don't necessarily mean "scum of the earth". After 16 years of home ownership, a tragic divorce has forced me into renting until I can get another house. Lots of good people in that situation, friend.

Hard to concentrate on the rest of your story with those two points standing out like sore thumbs.
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Old December 22, 2009, 10:42 AM   #3
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Just a few more details needed to help critique this situation:

1.) When the lady next door called both of her adjacent neighbors, did she also call the sheriff's office, and did they respond in a timely manner ?

2.) Is the sheriff aware of the increased amount of missing stuff since newcomers have taken up residency ? I mean the sheriff, not deputies or responders.

3.) How well do you and your neighbors know the people in the area that have resided there for awhile ?

4.) Any kind of neighborhood watch (official or casual) in operation ?

5.) Is 25 minutes the response time that is "typical" in your neighborhood ?

If the lady next door did not call the sheriff first, she is asking you and the other guy to be her security network, which may be fine with you neighbors or may not be, but that has to be with your consent. Best to call the officials just to get things rolling ahead of time before calling you two, especially if it is a real threat.

If a conversation has not taken place with the sheriff, do it soon. They can't upgrade the service unless they know you are having a problem. Your neighborhood is not the only one with increased crime due to the economic meltdown, and the police/sheriff are experiencing budget difficulties also. But the sheriff is an elected official that should be aware of and interested in the service his office is providing to the taxfpayers/voters. The renters in your area are not directly taxpayers.

Get to know your neighbors better, and eventually you will become aware of those that share your concern for your safety and security. You will also get to know which neighbors are the problem, and they will feel the heat if they know you are watching them and their visitors. If it gets too uncomfortable for the dirballs they will move to a neighborhood with easier pickings. If they are stealing from their neighbors you need to make them feel uncomfortable. The landlords should be held accountable for the quality of the tenants they rent to also.

Encourage your friends and neighbors to invest in better locks, better lights and better common sense in closing garage doors, bringing bikes, mowers and lawn equipment inside before dark. It ain't like it used to be in any of our neighborhoods, so we need to quit making it easy for the thieves.

Encourage the neighbors that give a damn to be more aware of who is cruising your streets. Most cell phones have cameras, and most of us carry them routinely but are clueless about how they work and how to take a pic. Learn how to quickly take a picture and photograph the suspicious visitors and maybe they will quit coming around. They don't like exposure from lights or scrutiny from others.

One last thing is some of the trail or game cameras use infrared (no obvious bright flash) for night photos and can be easily hidden around a house. Some are pretty affordable (under $200 or so). Check out the Scoutguard cameras that can even take multiple exposures and video.

It's time to take back the neighborhood while we can, because I think it is going to get much worse before we turn the corner again.

Good luck, friend.
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Old December 22, 2009, 10:52 AM   #4
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Bird Dog -
did not mean to imply that renters are "Scum of the earth" at all - just making the point that, over the past year, there have been some unfamiliar people moving into the neighborhood. Some of them are sketchy looking as gathered by appearance, behavior and the manner in which they maintain the properties they are renting. Not long after the arrival of several new families in the neighborhood, things started to go missing. Coicnidence? maybe.

As for thumbing off the safety, at least the gun was pointed at the ground when made ready to fire and was only in that condition for a second. Finger was never on the trigger. IMO, no more dangerous than a Glock (or any other gun without a manual safety) with a round in the pipe. I didn't take the safety off JUST BECAUSE I saw someone in the dark, I took the safety off because I saw an individual near a shadowed exterior door - outside of which the neighbor had heard a crash at 11:00 PM while home alone and after a recent burglary and rash of thefts.

Point of my post was that I learned firsthand to respond CAREFULLY, CALMLY and THOUGHFULLY when someone who is very frightened asks you for help, and to not let THEIR emotion OR past circumstances (in this case, a recent burglary and several garage break ins) cloud your thought process.

Last edited by QCBrob; December 22, 2009 at 11:03 AM.
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Old December 22, 2009, 11:03 AM   #5
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QCB, understood. Thanks for the clarification.
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Old December 22, 2009, 02:03 PM   #6
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Wouldn't a good bright flashlight have alleviated this issue? Yelling at someone when you can't see their response is asking to get shot by a gun you can't see. Target ID, and with a bright enough light it'll blind and disorient the bad guy (or neighbor).
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Old December 22, 2009, 02:14 PM   #7
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QCBrob,

Call me a heartless coward I suppose, but I can not envision a scenario wherein I would leave my house and family and go into the dark to check on the "bump in the night" of the lady next door.

The lesson here to me is stay in your own damn house. Let the police do their jobs. I will help my neighbors if I can but my family is my priority, I made promises to them not to my neighbor.
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Old December 22, 2009, 02:53 PM   #8
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Renters are taxpayers; it’s in the rent payment.

Good renters are as concerned about neighborhood safety as are the owners. After all, good renters usually have as much stealable property as owners.

Scum-bag renters usually quickly indicate they are scum-bags. If owner neighbors see them as scum then they usually are.

I see nothing wrong with checking out a “bump in the night” for a neighbor. Calling 911 for every bump in the night will get old to the police when bumps in the night keep turning out to just be bumps. And the police get there in time to write up the report and call the coroner.

I would never turn on a flashlight when looking for a perp in the dark. This immediately lets the perp know where I am before I know where the perp is.

I DO NOT keep my gun on safety when checking for a perp. I carry the gun to take out a perp if the need comes to that. My safety is not pulling the trigger.

The police do not go skulking around houses in the dark unless it’s a house that’s already had operations in it that makes it skulkable. And you can well believe all the neighbors know which houses are such and don’t go checking bumps in the night at that house.

I believe QCBrob did well. The one to be chastised in this situation is the neighbor who didn’t let QC know the other neighbor was in on the bump-check, nor let the other neighbor know QC was also doing a bump-check. She needs a good talking to.

QCBrob did assure the safety of his family before he went bump checking.

QCBrob, perhaps a neighborhood meeting to set up a formal Neighborhood Watch is in order with all the renters invited. Announce that some of the owners are armed and ready. speak of 357s and 44s and shotguns. Tell of how JHPs go in like a pencil and come out like a watermelon. Renters with reason to fear 357s and 44s and shotguns will get the word that some other place might better suit their life style.

If neighbors don’t help neighbors then they aren’t good neighbors. Sometimes when someone relates an incident like this we believe we haven’t done our job if we don’t find some fault somewhere. The is nothing wrong with agreeing the right thing was done when the right thing was done. I take QCBrob’s post as giving an example of things to be aware of and things to make better in the future..
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Old December 22, 2009, 03:18 PM   #9
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You sound like a really good neighbor QCBrob! {Mr. Rogers' theme song}

I like to keep a rechargable spotlight (1million candlepower, i think) near the back door for outside excursions in the dark; it lets me see what it is pointed at and blinds the crap out of anyone in it's beam up to at least 50 yards. You might find one handy & they aren't very expensive anymore.
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Old December 22, 2009, 03:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClayInTx
QCBrob, perhaps a neighborhood meeting to set up a formal Neighborhood Watch is in order with all the renters invited. Announce that some of the owners are armed and ready. speak of 357s and 44s and shotguns. Tell of how JHPs go in like a pencil and come out like a watermelon. Renters with reason to fear 357s and 44s and shotguns will get the word that some other place might better suit their life style.
And now the "shady" renters all know which houses have guns inside, so they can break in and steal them when no one's home.

I think organizing a neighborhood watch is a fine idea, but I'd either start with just the neighbors I know, or invite everyone and make it clear the sheriff will be called when folks see suspicious activity, but leave out the part that involves posturing about guns.
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Old December 22, 2009, 03:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClayInTx
I would never turn on a flashlight when looking for a perp in the dark. This immediately lets the perp know where I am before I know where the perp is.
Quote:
Originally Posted by QCBrob
As I approached the back door of the neighbors house, (very dark and heavily wooded yard) I saw a tall figure in the dark, walking slowly and quietly in the opposite direction. I thumbed off the safety and loudly said "Stop. Identify yourself!". I was holding the gun in the low-ready position.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Balog
Yelling at someone when you can't see their response is asking to get shot by a gun you can't see.
Reading is fundamental, nicht wahr?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ClayInTx
QCBrob, perhaps a neighborhood meeting to set up a formal Neighborhood Watch is in order with all the renters invited. Announce that some of the owners are armed and ready. speak of 357s and 44s and shotguns. Tell of how JHPs go in like a pencil and come out like a watermelon.
So you're going to invite these people over... and threaten them? Someone invites me over for a friendly neighborhood get together then starts making thinly veiled threats I'm gonna take that a mite personally.

Last edited by Balog; December 22, 2009 at 03:48 PM. Reason: Fixed quote
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Old December 22, 2009, 04:18 PM   #12
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Sometimes I get P O'd at the BOD of our HOA, especially in light of the fact that there are only 36 homes in our community. However, there's some good to being in a gated, small community. If something is out of place, everyone knows it almost immediately.

You are a good neighbor to go check out noises that go bump in the night. As was pointed out, I would have made sure my flashlight went with me, along with my Kimber .45.

These are changing times, as you had pointed out. When the neighborhood is in a dynamic state with the socio-economic barometer swinging in a direction other than what you would like to see, it may be beneficial to consider an investment in a decent home alarm system and a dog.

Besides being an early warning system, a dog will love you back unconditionally, will walk you when you need the exercise, and lick your face when your wife is mad at you.

One more comment, if I may. With regards to the safety coming to off.....
When reconning with your gun, you should have hands in the firing position and your gun close to your belly, elbows bent. (If they are locked straight out, someone can come out of nowhere and grab that sucker away from you.)
Once you identify a target, your arms now lock out straight, your finger by the trigger guard (straight forward) and the strong hand thumb ready to move the safety up, to off. My mindset is that if the safety comes off, I'm going for the trigger.

And, with that being said, the point of this is that the safety should never come off until the target is ID'd as hostile and you are in imminent danger, with the threat needing to be neutralized. You did good for your first time. Just take that lesson and apply it. What if you had shot that other neighbor?
No harm, no foul this time. Just learn from it. And don't forget that flashlight next time. I would bet your neighbors appreciate your readiness to protect and help them. I could use a neighbor like that, regardless of where I lived.
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Old December 22, 2009, 08:24 PM   #13
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I commend you on your willingness to help your neighbor. And I understand how you feel because my wife and I are seeing the exact same thing happening on our street. Home owners/buyers are losing their homes and are forced to move out while renters are moving in and all of a sudden, our quiet street is louder due to shouting matches in the street, our neighbors are being burglarized, arguments between the established residents and newer, etc. And to those on the forum that rent or lease, please do not feel that I lump everyone that does so into the same category. That would be rude and plainly ignorant of me. I am only hoping to convey what I have been seeing in my neighborhood and that I can sympathize with the OP.
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Old December 23, 2009, 12:10 AM   #14
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peetzakilla has a valid point.

But once you decided to go outside you should have had two additional items that would have helped. A flashlight to identify your target in the dark, and a cell phone to give you options in communication.
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Old December 23, 2009, 01:02 AM   #15
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This post really demonstrates the dangers and pitfalls of trying to be a good samaritan. It could easily have ended in QCBrob killing his neighbor, or being killed by an actual thief.

When people without the proper mindset, training, and tools try to do stuff that's dangerous for even the best, it can easily lead to tragedy.

I won't advocate not helping your neighbors; I just hope people realize that it can lead to a world of trouble and prepare accordingly.
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Old December 23, 2009, 02:18 AM   #16
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Quote:
an unfamiliar red SUV was driving slowly through the neighborhood with the occupants looking around in a suspicious manner
What is a 'suspicous manner' ?
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Old December 23, 2009, 02:39 AM   #17
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a 'suspicious manner' is where they act like they don't belong, and are scoping the area out. if this case, driving slowly several times through the neighborhood, and parking in front of a vacationing families home, and making several trips towards the rear of the home. haven't you ever seen someone up to no good? who knows what they were up to, I commend him for calling the police. had it not been for the wife and his actions, his neghbors could have become victims of robbery. suspicious is something that makes you suspect that they are not there for legit reasons. community activism is the best deterent to crime, and that group may never return simply because of that one call. they know that the neighborhood has concerned citizens... all it takes is one. good job on the post. I think you handled both situations well.
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Old December 23, 2009, 07:54 AM   #18
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The only thing I would suggest is a good flash light would of been good to have in the dark, (not walking around with the light on like a babe in the woods) seeing the threat and putting the light on him would have cleared things up fast. Two, do you and your neighbors have motion sensor lights? I use them in my yard and its hard to sneak up to a area when it goes from dark to light in a matter of a second. Good job being a good neighbor, more people should follow your example.
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Old December 23, 2009, 09:07 AM   #19
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As usual, here's yet another situation where an untrained, unauthorized armed citizen attempts to take on the role of a badge-carrying police officer, and the the uncertainty and confusion of opinions, guesses, macho chest-thumping and just plain ignorance that results fills another thread.

The Pizza chef has it exactly right- protect yourself and your home, period.
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Old December 23, 2009, 09:33 AM   #20
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Response time will vary with the nature of the call. You reported a suspicious condition, which is going to take a back burner to any actual robber, burglary, or shots fired calls they may already be working on. Next time if you really need a car, call it in as an actual burglary. When the cop determines they didn't actually enter, oh well, you swear he was breaking in!

As far as your neighbor is concerned, you need to have a talk with her about calling 911 first. You should also let everybody in your family to call 911 FIRST, then call you after if they can. Around here we had a girl who was abducted a while back. Instead of calling 911, she called her boyfriend from the trunk of the car. Needless to say the BF wasn't of much help, and she was killed. Call 911 first.
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Old December 23, 2009, 10:16 AM   #21
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QCBrob, . . . just one point, . . . but first I'm on your side, . . . you did good, . . . many neighbors are afraid to or just unwilling to put themselves in any kind of situation for another neighbor or friend, . . . good to know you are not like that.

What you did is to me a reasonable response to a "most likely" situation, . . . that being that it was just an innocent "bump" in the night.

My one point I would like to make though, . . . your story reminded me of the first time we thought we were under fire in Viet Nam. Our sentry relayed info that there was automatic weapons fire over at the boat compound, . . . 400 yds from our BEQ. Dropped the cards, . . . grabbed a weapon, . . . in the jeep, . . . and fanned out to see what was going on.

As I rounded the corner of the operations building, . . . 1911 in hand, . . . I began to wish I had a shotty or another long gun with me. Didn't do that again either.

Now when I go out at night (and it is not often that I will go out to check on something outside), . . . but when the occasion does arise, . . . I take as primary, . . . a semi auto 12 ga with 3 # 4's, 2 00 buck, and 2 slugs, . . . with 5 more slugs on the stock, . . . IN ADDITION TO my 1911.

Just food for thought, . . . I know in low light conditions, . . . I'm much more accurate with the shotty than the 1911, . . . and with a little bit of spread, . . . it can be a real advantage.

But as old sarge would say, . . . "Ya did good", . . . you can move into my neighborhood any time.

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Old December 23, 2009, 10:26 AM   #22
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Quote:
Call me a heartless coward I suppose, but I can not envision a scenario wherein I would leave my house and family and go into the dark to check on the "bump in the night" of the lady next door.

The lesson here to me is stay in your own damn house. Let the police do their jobs. I will help my neighbors if I can but my family is my priority, I made promises to them not to my neighbor.
In my area of the country, that is exactly what you would be called. However, I respect your choice as yours to make -probably in a lot of circumstances a wise choice. It does, however, reinforce what my liberal friend at work always told me about the 2nd amendment. His belief was that the 2nd amendment was more about protection of our country and he noted that most gun owners only use it to justify their personal protection. He said that the idea of the gun owners in this country being able to come together as a legitimate fighting force was laughable because he considered us to be some of the most "self-oriented" people he knew.

Now, granted he is a dedicated gun control freak. However, he does read a tremendous amount of internet information from gun forums (as he puts it, to gather information on the enemy! Most of his opinions and arguments on gun control I can counter, but the above opinions almost seem logical.

Regarding helping the neighbor, I guess I am locked into a belief that I am "My Brother's Keeper". The OP does open my eyes to the fact that I need to maybe have a plan as to how my help will be provided before I am faced with a situation similar to his.
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Old December 23, 2009, 10:49 AM   #23
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There is the risk of getting hurt when venturing outside the home to help others. There is the risk of sitting idly by while a neighbor is raped and murdered. /shrug Your choice of course, but I might be inclined to help.
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Old December 23, 2009, 10:56 AM   #24
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Quote:
unauthorized armed citizen
Huh. :barf: Kind of catchy, though. :barf::barf:
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Old December 23, 2009, 11:31 AM   #25
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Thank you all for your feedback.

As I said already in so many words, the purpose of my original post was to share the experience and what I learned from it. Perhaps someone who reads my post will also learn from my experience and from everyone's feedback regarding it, and file my situation in the back of their mind - remembering the key point of my post that a frightened, elderly, home-alone neighbor asked for assistance from TWO other neighbors without telling each one about the other, thereby inadvertantly setting up a potentially unfortunate or lethal scenario. That's all.

FWIW, this neighbor lady and her husband are like family to us, and we have known them for years. That likely has some significant bearing as to my willingness to respond, as I couldn't imagine telling her husband that I opted to call the cops and wait it out while she was being robbed (or worse).

Also FWIW, yes, I guess I AM an "untrained, unauthorized, armed citizen". I have taken several classes, have a carry permit and practice regularly with my firearms at the range. I'm a reasonably intelligent and thoughtful guy, IMO, not a "wannabe cop" or an "ignorant chest thumper". I understand the responsibility of carrying a firearm for protection and take it very seriously. I hope I NEVER have to fire upon another individual EVER.

As for taking responsibility for the safety of family / neighbors / or even strangers... Several years ago when my oldest son still got around in a stroller, my wife, first son and I were walking through the neighborhood when another neighbor (retired LEO) drove up quickly in his pickup truck and told us to "GET IN THE BACK NOW!". As it turns out, HIS next-door neighbor had just left the neighborhood and was approached by two large, loose, snarling pitbulls at the stop sign. He called the police and then my neighbor who then drove up the street and got us. As he drove up the street with us in the back to turn around, we saw the dogs. They were just around the curve from where he picked us up and we certainly would have crossed paths at the peril of my wife, our infant son, and myself. I'm sure glad he chose to leave the house! Lesson learned and I now keep my Jframe in my pocket when taking my family on a walk.
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