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Old September 9, 2013, 11:25 AM   #1
MAGon
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Clerk vs. armed robber. Comments, critiques?

Hi, guys!
No, it's not a drive by post. I saw this video, and thought it worth discussing. It struck me that despite the admirable coolness shown by the clerk, perhaps there were risks that could've been avoided. I'm not writing my opinion because I'd rather read what y'all have to say, specially experienced LEOs. http://link.brightcove.com/services/...=2645549671001

This is the associated text: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013...-end-well-for/

Last edited by MAGon; September 9, 2013 at 01:08 PM. Reason: Comply with forum rules.
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Old September 9, 2013, 12:11 PM   #2
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I have seen this. The guy behind the counter sure seemed to maintain his composure. I suppose a couple of tours in the sandbox will do that.

What I noticed was that the clerks left arm immediately went to the gun the perp had and drew his own weapon at the same time.

How he maintained his composure and did not shoot the perp is beyond me.

If you did that to a undercover police offer, I think the only thing that would beat you to the morgue would be the headlights on the ambulance.

I am not sure if putting the gun in the bad guy's face was the smartest move he could have made.

I hope some of the current and former LEOs chime in here and point out the good and bad things here.

I think there is much that can be learned here.
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Old September 9, 2013, 12:27 PM   #3
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Trying to draw without simultaneously dealing with the BG's gun probably would not have worked so well.

Sticking his own gun in the BG's face probably had a huge psychological impact on the BG, but it also put the clerk's arm in a position that would have given the leverage advantage to the BG. A quicker BG might have moved off the line and taken the clerk's gun.

I really disagree with the clerk's decision to let the BG keep his own gun. Yes, he kept it lowered, but he could have decided to go for a quick snap shot as he neared the door. How many security cam videos have we seen where the BG does exactly that?

I don't advocate attempting to detain the BG, but I would have ordered him to drop (and leave) his gun. I would consider his refusal to comprise a lethal threat, and would respond accordingly.

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Old September 9, 2013, 12:35 PM   #4
Willie Lowman
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Clerk had good situational awareness and a openly carried (therefore easily accessed sidearm) What's to say?
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Old September 9, 2013, 02:14 PM   #5
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I think the store clerk had a green-light for a shot. He stayed cool & avoided violence but he would have been fully cleared by most jury members & sworn LE investigators.
Im not being harsh or critical but I would have aimed center mass & fired.

My good friend & co-worker, a retired US Army MP Sgt and federal LE officer(US Dept of Veterans Affairs) had a early morning house breaker try and get to his house's second floor. My friend held the intoxicated male at gun-point(Colt .38spl snub) and waited for the local PD.
Nearly the entire VA police staff(80% of which were US military law enforcement: SPs, MPs, CIDC, MAAs, etc) told him he could have shot the subject. He said he decided not to because his young kids were there, which is a valid reason, .
If you check online there are 2/two good examples of security guards/retired LE officers using lethal force in central FL.
One is a uniformed guard who repels a armed robbery in a gaming parlor, the other is a retired cop who fires on a armed thug who holds up a drug store.
Im not net savvy but another forum member may find them to post.
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Old September 10, 2013, 02:44 PM   #6
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I'm certainly no expert but it sure looks like they both made a mistake of holding their weapon too close to the other party. The Bad Guy had to lower his gun away from the Good Guy so the GG couldn't grab or knock the gun away from the BG. And on the other side it looks to me like the GG then put his gun too close to the BG. BG could have knocked away or grabbed the GG's gun if he were so inclined. Luckily it worked out for the best and no one got hurt.

Last edited by southjk; September 10, 2013 at 02:45 PM. Reason: I kent spel
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Old September 10, 2013, 09:13 PM   #7
David13
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I thought there was no space for any criticism.
The clerk had no choice but to get that close. Now, given the nervousness of the thief, and his surprise or astonishment at looking down the barrel like that, I do not think for one nano second that he could have avoided a head shot. If he would have moved an inch, the clerk could have, and probably would have pulled the trigger. No, no time within which to duck.
In terms of not shooting the perp as he exits, that would be nice, if it was fatal. But don't forget how much paperwork that involves, not to mention bullet holes in the front door, and mess on the floor.
Sure it quite possibly or probably would be justified in many a state, but not in all states. And only after a whole tremendous lot of hassle, like hours upon hours worth.
If the shot was not fatal, guess who gets to pay for his doctor, and 3 hots and a cot, and guess how long he would be in, particularly in some states.
Last but not least, is there any info on the thiefs gun. Was it functional? Was it loaded? I wonder.
Does this perp have a long long record, or is this just some loser who just went out and made the biggest mistake of his life?
We are all tough guys, but we all also have a conscience.
Pulling the trigger up close and personal like that is messy, and long long term.
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Old September 10, 2013, 09:22 PM   #8
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I wasn't there, but saw the video several times and read an interview with the clerk. Very cool cookie, said he held fire because the guy didn't actually point the weapon at him, but was prepared to do so if he had.

Lots of people in the world you don't want to mess with, I think this guy qualifies.
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Old September 11, 2013, 07:19 AM   #9
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Lots of people in the world you don't want to mess with, I think this guy qualifies.
Don't you just hate it when you come across someone you should have left alone? Paraphrase Clint Eastwood-Gran Torino
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Old September 11, 2013, 08:06 AM   #10
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Posted by TXAZ: Very cool cookie, said he held fire because the guy didn't actually point the weapon at him, but was prepared to do so if he had.
Consider how long it would have taken for (1) a man with his gun in his hand to "actually point the weapon", (2) how long it would take for the defender to realize it, (3) how long it would take for the defender to decide to shoot and to do so, and (4) how effective the defender's shot would have been in preventing the robber from shooting at that point.

The clerk says he has a service record and a resume that might pertain to handing criminals, but that statement and the video give the lie to any claim of relevant professional competence.

In an armed robbery, one either complies or chooses to go for broke. Had the clerk survived the draw and had the robber dropped the gun, one could argue that the clerk took a calculated risk that worked for him, whether it would have been prudent or not.

But he didn't do that. He reached for the robber's gun without success, drew his own, put it out where it could be taken, and stood directly in front of a man who had a gun in his hand--and did not fire. He says he would have fired had he seen the bore of the robber's gun, but he had lost the opportunity to save himself by that time. One can only say that he was very lucky indeed.

I see two possibilities here: the clerk did not know what he was doing but was incredibly lucky, or things were not what we have been told.

Both men are lucky.

I know of no competent trainer anywhere who advises sticking a gun into an attacker's reach.

The clerk would be better served by keeping the gun held close. And it is difficult to support his not having fired for the reason he has given.

This does underscore the importance of getting some really good defensive pistol training, including, if possible, some FoF training using simunitions.

The latter would demonstrate convincingly that a victim of an armed robbery should do something very different from what is shown in the video.

Last edited by OldMarksman; September 11, 2013 at 08:21 AM. Reason: sp.
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Old September 11, 2013, 09:08 AM   #11
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Both men are lucky.
Considering the number of ways this could have gone, this is an understatement.
Anytime you pull a weapon on another person, it's going to cost.
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Old September 11, 2013, 07:35 PM   #12
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He handled it perfectly.
As evidence of that, I present the fact that nobody got robbed, and nobody got killed.

Based on how quickly he was able to react and draw, I'm willing to bet that by the time his gun was in the BG's face he could have gotten off a shot faster than the would-be robber could have raised his gun. He may not have gotten control of the BG's gun in his grab, but he did seem to have his hand in a position that would have made it difficult for the BG to raise his weapon. By the time he was in a position to fire, the BG wasn't. According to the clerk, had the BG tried to raise his gun he could have simply pulled the trigger.
Same goes for while he was leaving the store. The BG could have turned around and tried for a shot, but the clerk seemed to be covering him as he left, and would have almost certainly been able to shoot before the BG's gun came to bear.
It might not be the way all of us would handle it, but I think it's still safe to say the guy knew what he was doing.

As far as demanding that the perp drop his weapon - what if he said no? At that point you have to consciously decide whether or not to kill someone who may or may not be an immanent threat. Without audio we don't know that the clerk didn't tell the BG to drop it, but then decide not to kill him when he ran away instead.
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Old September 11, 2013, 09:02 PM   #13
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Agree with dayman (mostly)... I am not sure I would use the word "perfectly" to describe the clerk's action, but I hope that if I were in the same situation I would do as well.

Watching the video after the fact we can not know the body language communication that passed between these two men. Something caused the clerk not to fire. He did not feel, right at that instant, that the robber was a grave threat. And with hindsight, we can say with absolute certainty that the clerk was correct... the robber did not attempt to shoot him, the robber fled. Some communication, perhaps subconsciously sent by the robber and subconsciously perceived by the clerk, indicated that the robber was done with the confrontation. He was only interested in leaving, and living another day.

As an aside, the robber made the right choice as well, since he was within microseconds of being shot in the face. He may spend years in prison, but that is better than a coffin.
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Old September 11, 2013, 09:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Posted by dayman: He handled it perfectly.
Are there any professionals or competent trainers who would agree with that assertion? I most seriously doubt it.

Should the clerk conclude that his actions were the correct ones and rely upon the same approach in another encounter, we might well not be saying "good guy won."

More importantly, it is critical that no one else ever follow his example.

Quote:
As evidence of that, I present the fact that nobody got robbed, and nobody got killed.
That is evidence that this time, the robber chose to not shoot.

Quote:
Based on how quickly he was able to react and draw, I'm willing to bet that by the time his gun was in the BG's face he could have gotten off a shot faster than the would-be robber could have raised his gun. ... According to the clerk, had the BG tried to raise his gun he could have simply pulled the trigger.
The clerk would have had to (1) realize that the robber had raised his gun, (2) decided to shoot, and (3) fired his gun. The next very important question is, would the defender's shot have prevented the robber from firing? Not likely.

There are two facets of the issue. The first is what to do if a man points a gun at someone and demands money. We discuss that all the time.

One course of action is to hand over the money, and hope that the robber chooses to not shoot. That often works out. Sometimes it does not. But is the "school solution" in most circumstances.

Another is to assume that the robber will shoot anyway, and to try to use deadly force. The problem is that that strategy may precipitate the robber's use of deadly force, which might not have occurred had the victim not tried to resist. And it may or may not prevent the victim from being harmed.

A variation on the latter is to hand over the money and prepare to shoot while the robber is preoccupied.

In this case, the victim tried none of the above. Faced wit h an armed robber holding a gun in his hand, he reached out at the robber's gun and drew his own, but he did not shoot.

He got away with it--this time.

His stated reasoning was that he did not see the bore of the robber's gun. That is not at all the mark of experience or sound judgment.

That takes to the second facet--that of using a weapon to defend against an armed robber. Drawing on a man with gun in hand is a very high risk gambit indeed. It should be attempted only when it is absolutely necessary, probably in concert with doing something else to distract him; the victim should probably move off line, behind something if possible. And if he has already made the move to escalate the situation by drawing his gun, the victim should open fire immediately.

This dude was just plain lucky.
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Old September 11, 2013, 09:34 PM   #15
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The clerk did an excellent job! He reacted quickly, decisively and defused the situation. He avoided a gunfight and nobody died.
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Last edited by pax; September 12, 2013 at 09:43 AM. Reason: deleted an ad hom
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Old September 11, 2013, 09:50 PM   #16
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RetiredMajor, there is a big difference between saying the clerk made choices that reputable trainers would not recommend, and being a keyboard commando / tactical ninja who thinks they could do better, as you put it.

[...]

Just because a tactic works in a given instance, that is no reason to think it is generally sound.

Example: an ex survived a high speed car wreck because she was not wearing a seat belt. Passenger side of the Camaro she rode in was completely crushed; she flew out of the car and had her impact softened by a hedgerow, and only shattered some leg bones and had her foot torn around backwards (all surgically repaired, with multiple pins).

Because not wearing a seat belt resulted in her survival in that instance, is not wearing a seat belt "good tactics?"

Last edited by pax; September 12, 2013 at 09:24 AM. Reason: keeping on topic
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Old September 11, 2013, 10:35 PM   #17
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I cannot understand where the time to bring to bear all this 'tactical training', and professional knowledge would come from.
That thing moved fast and there was no time to plan it out "according to the book".
No situation like this is ever perfect, even with many many many "professional" and "tactical" classes, eduction, theory, practice, etc, ad infinitum.
The clerk did what he had to do at the time, the best he could. In a nano second or two.
The second guessing seems to me like Major says, Monday morning quarterbacking.
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Old September 11, 2013, 10:56 PM   #18
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The second guessing seems to me like Major says, Monday morning quarterbacking.
When a scenario is posted here, it's not so that we can all share in a hug and agree that all is well with the world.

The entire point of discussing scenarios is to see what was done right, what was done wrong and how things could have been done better. So yes, it's Monday morning quarterbacking and that's exactly what it should be.

The stated description of T&T reads: "When your best defense is a quick, hard offense, the lessons learned here may prove invaluable. This is a "no holds barred" training area." T&T is not intended to be a support group holding feel good sessions.

The clerk did some things right. He did some things wrong. For one thing, not many experts would advise holding a gun out one-handed toward an opponent at bad breath distance.

Did he do the best he could? Probably. And it's great that it worked out well for him.

Does that mean what he did is the best that can be done? Certainly not, and there's value in understanding what he could have done better. For example, one slight modification to his response would have been to grab and control the shooter's hand with his left hand (as he did) and then draw his gun to a one-handed retention position instead of holding it out to the attacker. It would have controlled the situation effectively while keeping his gun much more secure from the criminal.

Another questionable move was to relinquish control of the attacker's gun hand while it still held the gun. That gun was a deadly threat as long as it remained in the attacker's hand and there's no way he could predict with any level of certainty, that when he released the man's hand that the man would choose to retreat instead of choosing to shoot.
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Old September 12, 2013, 12:33 AM   #19
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Re: Clerk vs. armed robber. Comments, critiques?

I didn't read the text only watched the video so idk where this was or any other details..but given my experience my reaction would have been different...
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Old September 12, 2013, 03:26 AM   #20
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The clerk faced a less-than-determined robber and as a result, came out unscathed. So for the situation, he did well, but not because of good tactics. People often win with poor tactics, but often get slaughtered as well. So just because it worked this time does not indicate that this what should be learned by others for the future to try to repeat in similar situations.

Quote:
That thing moved fast and there was no time to plan it out "according to the book".
No situation like this is ever perfect, even with many many many "professional" and "tactical" classes, eduction, theory, practice, etc, ad infinitum.
The clerk did what he had to do at the time, the best he could. In a nano second or two.
The second guessing seems to me like Major says, Monday morning quarterbacking.
Actually, there was time. In fact, for the draw, even more time if drawn to a retention firing position. He may have done the best he could, but that doesn't make it the best way.

As for Monday morning quarterbacking, if you are passing any judgement yourself, and you are, then you are just as guilty of that which you suggest we are doing, LOL.
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Old September 12, 2013, 07:17 AM   #21
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Quote:
Posted by David13: That thing moved fast and there was no time to plan it out "according to the book".
Most self defense confrontations develop extremely quickly. One important thing is to have the proper training; one will almost always default to his or her training when faced with violence.

Such training must necessarily address the skills necessary to react extremely quickly. Such skills include drawing, presenting, and firing a weapon very quickly, from retention position if necessary; retaining one's firearm, should someone try to take it; doing something, if possible, to keep the attacker from drawing and shooting first; moving to the side, putting something between oneself and the attacker, seeking cover or concealment, etc., if possible.

The Marionville incident happened to end with the best possible outcome: no one was hurt. But as Double Naught Spy has pointed out,

Quote:
The clerk faced a less-than-determined robber and as a result, came out unscathed. So for the situation, he did well, but not because of good tactics. People often win with poor tactics, but often get slaughtered as well. So just because it worked this time does not indicate that this what should be learned by others for the future to try to repeat in similar situations.
To point out the shortcomings of the clerk's actions may seem unnecessarily critical and non productive, but the video does provide us with useful material for contemplation and training. One can either characterize it in terms of a demonstration of what not to do or as a demonstration of what to do better; it doesn't really matter.

One can start with JohnKSa's comments:

Quote:
For one thing, not many experts would advise holding a gun out one-handed toward an opponent at bad breath distance.

... there's value in understanding what he could have done better. For example, one slight modification to his response would have been to grab and control the shooter's hand with his left hand (as he did) and then draw his gun to a one-handed retention position instead of holding it out to the attacker. It would have controlled the situation effectively while keeping his gun much more secure from the criminal.

Another questionable move was to relinquish control of the attacker's gun hand while it still held the gun. That gun was a deadly threat as long as it remained in the attacker's hand and there's no way he could predict with any level of certainty, that when he released the man's hand that the man would choose to retreat instead of choosing to shoot.
One other thing: we have discussed whether or not the clerk would have been able to shoot quickly enough had the robber "raised his gun." It occurs to me that some people may have in mind the idea that the robber would bring his gun up to eye level, as in gun range shooting. Keep in mind that at the distance involved, all the robber would have had to do is rotate his wrist very slightly and open up from the hip. The clerk was potentially in extreme danger from the moment the robber came in with the gun until the man had left the store. As John has mentioned,

Quote:
...there's no way he could predict with any level of certainty, that when he released the man's hand that the man would choose to retreat instead of choosing to shoot.
None of us would reasonably have hoped for the robber to be injured, but it is clear that the clerk was uninjured only because of the inaction of the robber. A more prudent defender, having made the decision to resist rather than to comply, most certainly would have fired, unless perchance he had been able to gain control of the robber's firearm, or unless the robber had dropped it very quickly.
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Old September 12, 2013, 07:29 AM   #22
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The Robber

...has been identified, apprehended in Arizona, and charged.

It is reported that Arvin Smith was under the influence; alcohol, methamphetamines, synthetic marijuana, and prescription dugs are mentioned in the article.

According to the report, he was armed with a small gas or air powered pistol.

That would not lessen the charges, but it may well explain why he did not shoot when faced with a firearm.
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Old September 12, 2013, 07:32 AM   #23
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Looks like Old Marksman, JohnKsa, and I all see this in very much the same way, and across the board.

Double Naught Spy, too, quite possibly.

Some others seem to either believe that ends not only justify but exalt means, or that critiquing is just not nice.
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Old September 12, 2013, 07:34 AM   #24
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OM, I had wondered if he might have had an unloaded or fake weapon. That explains quite a bit, but begs the question as to how the robber might have acted had his gun been loaded and real.
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Old September 12, 2013, 08:02 AM   #25
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Posted by MLeake: That [the fake weapon] explains quite a bit, but begs the question as to how the robber might have acted had his gun been loaded and real.
It does indeed.

LEO friends tell me that meth heads are often extremely violent and cannot be reasoned with.
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