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Old June 9, 2014, 11:50 PM   #1
JimmyR
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A good guy with a gun

http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/09/us/las...html?hpt=hp_t1

I came across this link on CNN. It details how a CCW holder in Las Vegas attempted to confront a shooter in a local WalMart after the shooter had killed two off duty police officers. It left me with 2 thoughts:

1) We all talk about the effect of "good guys with guns," but the reality is that being that person may mean we put ourselves in harms way. It is a risk we all assume.

2) The citizen CCW, Joseph Wilcox, moved to confront someone who from what I read, fired a round into the ceiling of the Walmart store. The LEOs that had been killed were killed in a local pizza place, which I assume was not attached to the WalMart. The article also quotes Wilcox's sister, stating that he ran into the store to confront the shooter.

From a T&T standpoint, this raises the question of who you intend to defend with your weapon. Wilcox decided to try to defend other people in the store, whereas many of us believe we carry only ourselves and our famlies. I won't call either of these right or wrong, but I think it is ALWAYS a bad idea for a non-LEO citizen to engage a shooter, especially since the only known crime at the time was shooting into the ceiling and ordering people out.

Am I off base here?

ETA: I tried searching for this before posting, but just now found an earlier thread on this event. The focus on that thread appears to be the role of CCWs in stopping tragedies. As such, unless Staff feel the thread is redundant, I want to keep this one focused on the tactics used and how we can learn from this tragedy (i.e. the risks of entering an active shooter situation, the need to identify all targets, etc.)

Last edited by JimmyR; June 10, 2014 at 02:58 AM.
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Old June 10, 2014, 07:03 AM   #2
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Quote:
From a T&T standpoint, this raises the question of who you intend to defend with your weapon. Wilcox decided to try to defend other people in the store, whereas many of us believe we carry only ourselves and our famlies. I won't call either of these right or wrong, but I think it is ALWAYS a bad idea for a non-LEO citizen to engage a shooter, especially since the only known crime at the time was shooting into the ceiling and ordering people out.

Am I off base here?
Yes, you are, specifically because of the absolutist "ALWAYS" statement that you made. About the only absolute "ALWAYS" statement I would make about engaging shooters is that it comes with risks to oneself, physical and/or legal risks, but this does not mean it is necessarily a bad idea in the grand scheme of what one is trying to accomplish.

As for the...
Quote:
only known crime at the time was shooting into the ceiling and ordering people out.
...would be in error. Basically, every person threatened by that event, a threat of lethal force used against them, was victimized.

The risk concept of entering an active shooter situation is pretty simple to understand. Whether you are in it from the start or enter it after it gets started, you don't know what all the risks are and what you don't know can result in tragedy. You are operating with limited information and because you can't control the parameters, may not be able to act to the level you wish. Cops face this as well, but usually come better prepared and better trained.

1985 Springfield Mall, PA, Sylvia Seegrist killed 3, injured 7, was stopped by unarmed mall store employee who thought her gun wasn't real. This hero got very lucky despite his ignorance.

2005 Brenden McKown at Tacoma Mall - engaged a shooter verbally and did not have his gun drawn, fearing being confused for the shooter by the cops and claiming he didn't have a shot on the shooter. McKown was shot multiple times and was crippled as a result.

2005 Mark Wilson engaged an active shooter down on the square in Tyler, Texas, apparently seeing the shooting start from his apartment window overlooking the square. The firearms instructor strangely opted to respond with his pistol where upon he engaged the active shooter who was wearing body armor and who summarily killed Wilson. Wilson was credited for wounding the shooter and changing the course of events, but was killed. He had actually shot the shooter multiple times, but the vest protected the shooter from all but one shot. Wilson apparently did not realize the shooter was wearing a vest.

2011 - Giffords shooting, Joe Zamudio responded to the shooting and nearly shot the wrong person as he admitted to the press. Zamudio arrived AFTER the shooter had been disarmed and the person he claims to have almost shot was securing the weapon.

2014 - David Wilcox apparently entered the situation not realizing how many opponents he was engaging, if you summary is indeed accurate, and was killed as result.

Often when people talk about such situations, they discuss them from the perspective of hindsight, noting what the Good Sams should or should not have done based on the parameters of the situation. The problem here is that none of the Good Sams had the benefit of what would be total situational awareness or control and this can be very detrimental.
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Old June 10, 2014, 08:01 AM   #3
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I think it is ALWAYS a bad idea for a non-LEO citizen to engage a shooter
As a 3rd party in a critical incident, it's almost impossible for you to have complete knowledge of the situation and that's a MUST before employing deadly force.

While the actions of Mr Wilcox are commendable and no doubt he confronted the lunatic with the best of intentions, he lost his life w/o altering the outcome. That should be a sobering lesson for all.
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Old June 10, 2014, 08:09 AM   #4
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Having a concealed carry permit does not qualify the holder for a defensive situation.
Training for an actual event is whole nuther thing.
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Old June 10, 2014, 08:55 AM   #5
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He did what he thought was the best and most prudent thing to do: "Confront" the bad guy for the sake of others.

I commend that.

But CCW holders can sometimes feel they need to use it. They get their carry permit and all of a sudden they want to use it. They may look for any small reason to justify using their state-granted power. Kind of like getting a new toy, you want to play with it. I hope that's not what this is. Being a vigilante just because you have a CCW is the wrong way to think.

This of course would all be different if Wilcox would have done less talking and more shooting.
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Old June 10, 2014, 09:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
I think it is ALWAYS a bad idea for a non-LEO citizen to engage a shooter
Every situation is different. While in this case, not engaging would have probably been the better option, it doesn't mean it will always be the better option. You basically have a fraction of a second to assess the situation and make a choice. Hopefully whatever choice you make will be one that you can ultimately live with for as long as you continue living (which admittedly may not be long if you ever have to make that choice).
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Old June 10, 2014, 09:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
While the actions of Mr Wilcox are commendable and no doubt he confronted the lunatic with the best of intentions, he lost his life w/o altering the outcome.
We know he lost his life.

We don't know whether he changed the outcome. The BGs retreated and killed themselves just as the cops arrived. Was that their plan? Or were they planning to take hostages? Or were they planning to snipe officers from inside the building somewhere? Did he delay them just long enough to allow officers inside the building when they'd planned to have more time to set up the next phase?

We don't know.

Coulda-woulda-shoulda is such an easy game to play, but even in hindsight, we don't know (and never ever could know) what would have happened if. We only know what did happen -- and not even that much, since all we have to go by are news accounts, which are notoriously unreliable.

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Old June 10, 2014, 09:12 AM   #8
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Here's another story about a good guy with a gun. Not a good outcome -- but he was behind the curve and did the best he could under the circumstances. Certainly his actions allowed time for officers to arrive and take the perpetrators into custody. Sadly, it wasn't enough to save his brother's life.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/22088-po...-dorian-jordan

I'm posting this here because it will get little air time, and be forgotten in a week. When it's remembered, it will be remembered only for the tragic loss of an officer, not for the heroic action of the officer's brother. And that's the crying shame of things like this: when the concealed carry person makes a true difference in the outcome of an event, with an unequivocal win (as this was not) -- it won't even make the papers. We only hear about it when there's a tragedy involved, as in here; the ccw person wasn't fast enough, good enough, ahead of the curve enough to stop something horrible enough to make the news. And the worse the outcome, the more play it will get.

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Old June 10, 2014, 09:17 AM   #9
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Obviously it’s difficult to say how I might respond in a similar situation particularly if I observed innocent people being shot. If I had family members with me my primary responsibility would be to get them to safety, so I would engage only if necessary.

However, even if I were alone I would be hesitant to engage simply because of the variety of unknowns. I also wonder if I did confront someone might I be mistaken for a bad guy by law enforcement or even another armed citizen. Could you imagine what might happen if as you fled an active shooter situation you encountered Police with a gun in your hand.
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Old June 10, 2014, 09:51 AM   #10
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Years ago, an officer posted or told me that at an active mall shooter, a male spouse was seen running towards the mall with gun out to save his sweeties. Only common sense and intervention of some officers stopped others from shooting him.

As Pax said - this is all so fluid we really don't know. I'd be interested in the actual confrontation in Vegas. Otherwise, it's all speculation.
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Old June 10, 2014, 10:15 AM   #11
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my only duty is to protect myself. the CCW holder didn't know what was going on. the pair could have been undercover chasing someone the CCW holder didn't see enter the store. they could have been on the run and had a ND.

the outcome wasn't one he wanted, but it's the one he got.

if you aren't being personally threatened, and you don't know what is going on, call 911 and stay safe.
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Old June 10, 2014, 10:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Often when people talk about such situations, they discuss them from the perspective of hindsight, noting what the Good Sams should or should not have done based on the parameters of the situation. The problem here is that none of the Good Sams had the benefit of what would be total situational awareness or control and this can be very detrimental.

That's a good point. Wilcox saw a guy with a gun enter the Walmart, shoot the ceiling and start shouting at folks. We know the shooter had a partner and had killed two police officers. Wilcox didn't have the benefit of this information. There also may be information that Wilcox had that we don't that influenced his decision. Hopefully, we'll be able to learn from what happened after the information gets out.
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Old June 10, 2014, 10:56 AM   #13
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I look at the sitations where a armed citizen has stopped a crime . They didn't stop and think things over they acted . The police will arive in time to hopefully end the situation and do a report where someone that could make a differance did .
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Old June 10, 2014, 11:12 AM   #14
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Possessing a CCW, CHL, CWP or whatever, doesn't make you a police officer, and automatically give you the inside track on what's going on.

From what I have heard and read, the criminal husband / wife team entered the Walmart yelling and screaming for everyone to get out and leave.

When you decide to carry a handgun in public, most don't fully realize the awesome responsibility they are taking on. It is one that if not carefully thought out and executed properly, could prove to be very costly.
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Old June 10, 2014, 11:22 AM   #15
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Pax,

You hit a point that many miss. In a SD encounter you will always be behind the curve trying to play catchup. The BG makes his move and we try to counter it.
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Old June 10, 2014, 12:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pax
We know he lost his life.

We don't know whether he changed the outcome. The BGs retreated and killed themselves just as the cops arrived. Was that their plan? Or were they planning to take hostages? Or were they planning to snipe officers from inside the building somewhere? Did he delay them just long enough to allow officers inside the building when they'd planned to have more time to set up the next phase?

We don't know.
True. We don't know for certain. But we do know that Wilcox failed to stop them and at that point they were free to carry on with whatever they intended to do. And what they did next is on record.

I still think it's a very chancy proposition for a concealed handgun licensee to get involved as a 3rd party because it's nearly impossible to know what's unfolding. And applying deadly force when you "think" or "assume" things has a good probability of ending badly.
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Old June 10, 2014, 01:02 PM   #17
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skoro,

Please don't get me wrong: we are in absolute agreement about the riskiness of intervening in a third party situation. I'm on record -- multiple times in multiple places, including in my The Cornered Cat book -- as saying that when you use a gun, you gamble literally everything you have. You put your life, your happiness, and your freedom on the line. You bet your family's security, your ability to sleep at night with the person you love, your ability to watch your children grow up in person. At risk is every penny you've ever earned or ever will earn, every dollar you have in the bank, your job and every job you might apply for in future, every friendship you've ever treasured, your standing in the community, your reputation, your church membership if you have one. You're gambling your emotional and mental health, including the risk of sexual dysfunction, sleep disturbances, severe depression, alcoholism or other drug abuse, and a lifetime of regret if you get it wrong. And all of those things pale before the awful, horrible risk of killing an innocent person who would otherwise have lived. Everything is on the line when you pull a gun to use it against another human being.

Is the life of a stranger worth that kind of gamble? For some people, the answer will be an unequivocal, "Yes, by my lights and morals, it is worth it."

To those people I say, "Good! Thank you! That's why we have civilization, is because of people like you. Now do it smart..."

Doing it smart means, don't take that gamble unless you are overwhelmingly sure of the circumstances.

Doing it smart means, if you know you're the type of person who absolutely would get involved in a fight that's really not your own: GET. TRAINING. Don't just sit there an fantasize about coulda-woulda-shoulda. Teach your hands how to do the things your brain or your morals want them to do. Learn well.

Doing it smart means counting the cost, thinking it through, being absolutely certain in your own mind what you're willing to pay, what you're willing to live with, what you're willing to walk away from.

Because when you pull a gun, you gamble everything.

And sometimes... you lose.

pax

ps -- But none of this means I think Wilcox made the wrong call. I. Don't. Know. And neither do you. We don't know what the other road looks like, the one he didn't take. We only know what the road he did take looks like.
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Old June 10, 2014, 01:09 PM   #18
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We'll have to wait for the video.
Chances are it will be along at some point.
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Old June 10, 2014, 01:13 PM   #19
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In my own perspective, I'm only concerned about 3 people. My wife, and my sons.
If they're not in immediate danger we're finding an exit.

As Pax pointed out, we don't know what would have happened if he'd gone the other way, but it seems likely he would have lived. After all, everyone else in that Wal-Mart did.

I'm not a LEO, and it's not my job to put my life on the line for strangers.
It may sound heartless, but me making it home to my kids is more important to me than someone else making it home to theirs.
I'll leave engaging crazed gunmen up to those that are paid and trained to do it.

I didn't get my CHL because I wanted to be a hero, a vigilante, or a "sheep dog". I got it so that - if I need to - I'll be better prepared to protect my own family. That's it.
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Old June 10, 2014, 01:16 PM   #20
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Quote:
True. We don't know for certain. But we do know that Wilcox failed to stop them and at that point they were free to carry on with whatever they intended to do. And what they did next is on record.

I still think it's a very chancy proposition for a concealed handgun licensee to get involved as a 3rd party because it's nearly impossible to know what's unfolding. And applying deadly force when you "think" or "assume" things has a good probability of ending badly.
The indication is that he did not know that there was more than one. He confronted the one he knew and was shot by the other.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...onged-cop.html

Quote:
Wilcox, who was legally carrying a concealed weapon, told his friends he was going to confront the gunman - not realizing that he had an accomplice.
Wilcox was shot by the wife who was behind him as he tried to deal with the husband.

Behind the curve and not with the situational awareness to realize he had more than one opponent.
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Old June 10, 2014, 01:21 PM   #21
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Quote:
Behind the curve and not with the situational awareness to realize he had more than one opponent.
That said, we don't know if she was out of view or blending in with the crowd. We can only second-guess at this point. Wilcox was probably focusing on the guy shooting and waving the gun around.

It's also very rare for women to be involved in such shootings.
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Old June 10, 2014, 01:29 PM   #22
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As Pax pointed out, we don't know what would have happened if he'd gone the other way, but it seems likely he would have lived. After all, everyone else in that Wal-Mart did.
Sure. He may have lived -- but then again, maybe everyone else in the WalMart lived because he got involved. Maybe.

We. Don't. Know.

Maybe, if he hadn't acted, someone's three-year-old would have been taken hostage and ultimately killed. Would he have been able to live with that, after? Would that have been the outcome?

We. Don't. Know.

Maybe, if he hadn't acted, he would have stayed alive, gone home safe to his family, no additional deaths and the bad guys taken into custody alive. Would that have been the outcome?

We. Don't. Know.

It's very easy to look at the road not taken and think we know where it goes. But the point is, the road not taken was not taken. Which means we absolutely Do. Not. Know. where that road would have led, if someone had taken it.

There's no such thing as 20/20 hindsight.

Yes, it's horrible that a good and brave guy died. We want to construct a reality where he would be alive and the bad guys did absolutely nothing more to any other innocents. (We really want a reality where the officers lived, too.)

But that's not the reality we have. The reality we have is this one, where Wilcox did what he did and then he died. Would he, himself, if he had it to do over, have done something else?

We. Don't. Know.

Maybe he thought it was worth the risk, counted the cost and accepted it in peace. Maybe his action did, in actual fact, save a hundred lives because the bad guys were going to torch the whole building or something.

We. Don't. Know.

Maybe he bitterly regretted it with his dying breath, and died for nothing.

We. Don't. Know.

It's human nature to make up stories about things like this. But we will absolutely never know what would have happened in some other universe, on the road that wasn't taken.

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Old June 10, 2014, 02:16 PM   #23
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Obviously we don't *know* what would have happened either way.
However, isn't the point of this thread to dissect "tactics"?
And - outside of just matter-of-factly describing what happened - that's going to involve a certain amount of discussion and statistical reasoning.

If we don't discuss things that "we don't know" there's not much of a point to this sub-forum.

I wasn't trying to say that had the man walked in the other direction things would have definitely been better.
However, the whole situation does serve as a pretty poignant example of the fact that things don't always go well for the "good guy" in a gunfight.

This story might help us think up some helpful tactics for wading into a fight. But, for me, it reinforces the wisdom of running in the other direction if at all possible - my own prefered tactic.
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Old June 10, 2014, 02:24 PM   #24
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Now -- that said, let's refocus this back to what JimmyR requested when he started the thread:

Quote:
... I want to keep this one focused on the tactics used and how we can learn from this tragedy (i.e. the risks of entering an active shooter situation, the need to identify all targets, etc.)
One thing I think we can learn here, without a doubt, is the importance of not getting sucked into tunnel vision. We talk about "tunnel vision" as if it's an eyesight thing, but it's really not. It's a brain function thing -- the human tendency to completely focus on the threat we know is real, and thus miss seeing other things that are equally dangerous but not as obvious.

Tunnel vision is why some small number of EMTs and paramedics get electrocuted every year, when they rush in to help the victims of a car accident involving a telephone pole.

Tunnel vision is why little kids run right in front a car while chasing a ball.

Tunnel vision is why outfielders run into the back wall while they're trying to catch a pop fly.

As any firearms trainer could tell you, teaching people not to get sucked into hyperfocus is hard, even when it's just a calm day on the range and all you're doing is learning how to shoot. That's why some schools really emphasize the "I'm done shooting" dance, where you take your shot and then swivel your head from side to side. Unfortunately, for too many students, a dance move is all that is. They never really grok the purpose in fullness, and thus never really see what's going on around them.

Add in lots of commotion, noise, screaming, shots fired, the breathlessness and adrenalin -- well, it's not surprising that someone might get so focused in on what they know is wrong that they forget to look for accomplices.

But as someone once pointed out: "Bad guys have friends, too."

Good idea to keep that in mind.

Other thoughts?

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Old June 10, 2014, 02:36 PM   #25
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another way of thinking is to copy Captain Jack Sparrow of movie fame. when given the option, he ran. live to live another day.

similar to the 'cornered cat' analogy (i need to spend more time reading your site, looks good).

in the case at hand, the CCW holder was not immediately and directly threatened. he moved toward danger, not away. now, if danger comes to you, and you can't get away, that's the time to fight.

my CCW instructor put it this way: if you decide to shoot, that's at least a $250,000 decision. maybe more. don't make a bad decision.

so i'm with Pax, if you can run, run.

at some point, someone with a badge will show up, their job is to run toward danger. and they have training and equipment and buddies sufficient for such an activity.

your duty is to go home for dinner.
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