View Full Version : Scenario: goon invades your personal space.

April 3, 2002, 10:56 AM
It's night. You're standing next to your car in a deserted mall parking lot, fumbling for your keys.

Looking down, you notice a small plastic baggie on the ground which appears to contain a white powdery substance, some of which has spilled out onto the blacktop.

Goon hails you from afar, uttering something unintelligible but not obviously threatening, and begins walking in your direction.

25 yards.

He has the build of a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys and the appearance of one who has just skipped bail. He walks with an arrogant swagger, closing the distance, eyes fixed on you.

10 yards.

You say "How can I help you?", and casually pass your hand over your IWB, which you carry at 4 o'clock.

No answer.

5 yards.

You say "That's close enough", but your words have no effect. The fail-safe perimeter has now been breached; there is no clear intent on goon's part, although the means and the opprtunity exist for landing you in dog paradise (where else would they find so many bones?); and if you're going to act, you'd better do it now.

How do you act?

April 3, 2002, 11:00 AM
Having an arrogant swagger is not a reason to shoot him. I guess it depends how he acts.

I would be stepping back to keep the distance. If I feel threatened, I will take out my gun and point it at him and give him a verbal warning. If he continues on and acts like he is going to attack me I will shoot him.


April 3, 2002, 11:15 AM
Walk around so the car is between him and me. Maybe then try to casually retreat from there back to the relative safety of a crowd of people, while keeping an eye on him.

April 3, 2002, 11:43 AM
Definitely agree on getting behind the car. I would probably draw but keep it relatively hidden. If he's looking to see if I have a gun, he'll figure it out, if he's oblivious, element of surprise on my side. Start moving back and watch his hands. I know the parking lot is deserted because I look around all the time, so I'll know which way to move to avoid light poles and such. If I'm around a mall, the area can't be totally deserted, so I'd start moving towards the nearest gas station, etc. Something well lit with at least one other person who will have a phone. If he follows, he'll get a great view of the muzzle. If he draws, he'll meet g-d. If he just stands there looking like a moron, I'll wait until he leaves, or, if that doesn't happen in a timely manner, I'll call the guys in crown vics with shotguns.

April 3, 2002, 12:27 PM
Why, if I am right outside my car with my keys in my hands, would I let this man close 20 yards without just getting in my car and driving away? Personally, I try to avoid potentially lethal confrontations, CCW or not.

I would never allow this scenario to happen.

April 3, 2002, 12:53 PM
tag: that's the problem---you don't have the keys in your hand. You're fumbling for them, remember? You could have left them in a store, for all I know, or even locked them inside your car.

As far as never allowing this scenario to happen...do all people you know, to whom something unexpected ever happened, "allow" it to happen? Does everyone avoid tall buildings since 9/11/01? Would they have "allowed" it to happen if another plane blasted into them tomorrow? :cool:

April 3, 2002, 03:57 PM
How is this man approaching me "unexpected?" This isn't like the 9-11 attacks, so that is a weak comparison. I have plenty of warning since he announced his presence 25 yards away, which gives me plenty of time to react. If I can't find my keys (which I always have in my hand before I approach my car, especially in a dark parking lot), I would keep as much distance between me and this guy as possible. I would not wait until he was 5 yards away to make a decision to act. At the very least, I would keep the car between myself and the goon. I would never let him get into contact distance. So, as I said before, I would never allow this scenario to happen.

Think about it this way: would you allow this man to get this close if you weren't armed? Since your scenario dictates that you put your hand over your firearm at 10 yards, the answer would be no. So why does the presence of your firearm change the situation, unless your just looking for a gunfight? Personally, I try my hardest to avoid using my pistol. If that means that I have to turn and run back into the mall or retreat to the opposite side of my car, then so be it. I reserve deadly force as the option of last resort.

April 3, 2002, 06:45 PM
You should never be fumbling for your keys, you should have good situational awareness, and if you wish to talk to the guy talk to him at 25 yards. If you feel threatened, then just get in the car and drive away before he breaches your "personal space".

It is up to you to control the situation, those who do that survive, those who do not become victims.

April 3, 2002, 10:58 PM
Well put Tag. To add another point to the fumbling key thing - I don't keep anything else in the pocket reserved for my keys and have a key ring that is large enough I can tell it is present with little more than a thought - kinda like mentally checking your CCW. Each key is marked or shaped in such a way that I can easily identify it in the dark. Whenever I approach my car or house door the key is ready and in hand. The keys are either out, in use, or in the pocket - I haven't fumbled for them in years...

But that still doesn't mean that at some point a goon could never broach my personal space. It could happen, has, and probably will again. When it does I make space and put obstacles between us. I don't turn my back on him. (Oh, and a linebacker doesn't worry me - I'm an offensive tackle, :D ) A crowd of witnesses is a good place to get to if he doesn't take the hint and doesn't escalate the situation.

April 4, 2002, 12:37 AM
Hey, Rick? You can't set up a scenario, then start filling in the action I've taken, and then expect me to advise what I'd do after my proxied actions- that I might not actually follow, as you list them.

I'm not going to fumble with my keys. I'm not going to leave open space between myself and someone large and threatening who's closing the distance, and I damn sure am not going to get between a dog and his bone. I could care less what's in the baggie, so long as it's not explosive [unlikely], so I will assume that could be what tall, handsome, and mannerly actually wants. Since I will be on the other side of the car well before I am close enough to be rushed, I will NOT be forced into responding with only a shoot/no shoot scenario, and if I do come down to using lethal force, will be able to do so with better effect, and more justification in court.

April 4, 2002, 02:14 AM
I'd have driven off long before he got within 5 yards of me... but just to say he get's close... assess threat and be aware... or run away screaming......:p

April 4, 2002, 03:10 AM
Don't know the dude, don't know what's in the bag. None of my business anyways, so I'd pretend not to hear him when he first hails me. If he starts closing, I wouldn't start talking to him.

Since I'm alreadly fumbling for my keys, I pretend that suddenly I remember where I left them, namely, anywhere away from here. I walk away with my hand on my piece and the goon in my peripheral vision. I quickly scan around for anyone else.

That's it. In your scenario, you've already backed yourself into a corner. As it is, you still haven't enough justification to draw on him, and it could get ugly quick since you've already confronted him.

If it HAS to be that way, then back up, do your best to get the car (or cars) between you, and leave the damn bag alone. If he goes only for the bag, let him. If he still comes after you, let him see that you're holding something. Keep retreating around cars, and fire the Nikes full-auto if you can. Only time I'd draw is if he drew first. Good guys have to play by the rules, sadly. :(

David Scott
April 4, 2002, 07:27 AM
Personally, I always have my truck's keyless entry/alarm remote in my left hand well before I get to the truck. That leave the right hand free for CCW. If he were 25 yards away when he first shouted at me, I'd have been long gone before he could close. The baggie is not my concern.

If he were closer when he surprised me, one touch of the remote's "panic" button would give a distracting festival of lights and sound. At that point, I'd decide whether I could retreat safely, or not. If not, it's 9mm time.

April 4, 2002, 10:24 AM
Thanks, all, for your replies. I often build mental scenarios of this nature on my spare time in an effort to preclude, to the best of my ability, the least desired of options: having to resort, in a real-life emergency, to the use of deadly force.

A few of you said that you would never allow this to happen to you. Well, that may hold true most of the time; but I respectfully reserve the right to doubt. The point I wanted to drive home is that the unexpected can, does, and will happen to us on occasion. No matter how well prepared we are, we cannot possibly prevent it. No one is that good.

I can think of any number of things that can happen, for instance, that will find you fumbling for your keys---whether or not you are a grand master in the defensive arts with twenty years of intensive training under your belt. Again, something unexpected might occur: a hole develops in the lining of your pocket and swallows your keys; your keys get tangled in a bit of lint; the fabric in your sweater snags your watch, ring, bracelet, or whatever; your hand is injured; something physiological momentarily disorients you, like a cramp; etc., etc...

If the unexpected can't happen to you, then by the same token you would never carry.

You wouldn't need to.

So the fumbling stands. If this would never, could never apply to you, then I wouldn't really have expected you to answer.

As far as the baggie thing...that was a deliberate artifice in the context of a larger picture, the motive of which was to get the wheels in your head spinning. If you did decide to shoot out of fear of imminent harm, and the cops later came and saw this "evidence", what would they naturally presume? Would this have played any role, however small, in whatever action you took? Would it have alerted you to the higher gravity of the situation? Anyway, that was the game plan. My only hope is that it gave you a point to ponder.

In the end, it always helps to see different points of view. Your responses are collectively worth their weight in gold, I might add, and will be analyzed for many days to come.

Okay, maybe not days; but at least until the next scenario crops up in my head.

Cheers, and thanks again.


Navy joe
April 4, 2002, 12:14 PM
First off, it is hard when someobe gives you your course of action that wouldn't be followed. Now in my case, i always leave the keys to my ignition in the car and use a keyless remote that's attached to my swiss army knife. I can get in my car have the doors locked and be gone faster than anyone I've seen. Problem is I don't know in the given scenario how much time you'd have. The people that think they can just hop in and drive away seem awfully smug. How fast can said goon be there if he decides to rapidly close the distance? Less than 2 seconds probably. While you're trying to start your car your attention is also going to be divided.

April 6, 2002, 12:16 AM
If I was a cop and saw a baggie of "white powder" under your car, I'd be asssuming it's yours.

Add in a dead man who could very well be a good samaritan trying to tell you that some punks were trying to break into your car but he scared them off, and I'd asssume (being a cop and all) that you killed him in a drug deal gone wrong.

It'd be on you to prove yourself innocent, and don't think otherwise. Even if you get off, it'll have cost you a LOT!

As for "I'd never be got fumbling...", maybe so, but the lock could jam, key break, battery in keyfob dies, etc. Assume murphy is on your ass that day.

I don't carry or even own a pistol, only a rifle, so that wouldn't be an option for me. I'd ignore him if possible, but since he's closing the distance, if I can't in my car before he shows up, I'm keep it and several others (if any are around) between me and him while manuvering towards others.

If he gets to the car just as I'm getting in, I have a car fire extinguisher by my right knee with the safety pin long lost and can give him a nice snout full of it. It's dropped 300 pound drug crazed rednecks before, I'm sure it'll work again. :D

April 6, 2002, 07:45 AM
i have heard this " a blast in the face from a fire extingusher
will put him down" before, As a kid my bother and I would play with all the discarded 1/2 empty fire exting. laying around ( dad was the city fire inspector Got blasted and did the blasting many times point blank, face etc. No results at all would laugh, play and wipe our faces and hair clean of all the white powder, but my expierence a blast from fire ext. cant but a 10yr. old playing in the backyard down? dont think of them as self defense alt.'s

David Blinder
April 10, 2002, 06:47 AM
Since many of you have mentioned that at 25 yards, you would simply get in your car and drive away, this seems like a good time to tell you about a simunitions excercise I did a while back. We set it up so that the "victim" was about 10 yards from their car and a "badguy" was hidden about 25 yards from them. Out of 22 people, NONE were able to enter their car and drive off before BG could get in physical contact and or shoot/stab them. Keep in mind that the "victims" in our scenario didn't even have to take the time to make a decision about what was really happening or whether they should fight. They only had to recognize that the threat had appeared and then attempt to retreat. Lesson learned was reality sucks.

April 12, 2002, 01:14 AM
I'm not quoting some urban legend about the fire extinguisher. I've seen it first hand (as described above) and seen it work.

discarded 1/2 empty fire exting. laying around...

That's why it didn't have any effect. Because it's already been discharged and has barely any pressure in it. Try it with a fully charged FE at 200 PSI, point blank, and you won't doubt it any longer.

April 12, 2002, 01:26 AM
I'd shoot him, scalp him, and do a line of the white powdery substance off his steaming brain. But that's just me, YMMV.

DubbL Tap
April 12, 2002, 01:19 PM
1) My Jeep has remote keyless entry so I doubt that that while alone in a mall parking lot I'd be standing there "fumbling with my keys". I will admit that on rare occasions my keys may get caught up in the lint in my pockets. However I've already figured it out before arriving at my vehicle.

2) When and if a person calls me out in the street I usually ignore them by force of habit on the first call if they're not calling me by name. They would have to be a little more persistent to "get my attention" even though I'm already aware of them.

3) In a situation like this (if this guy is/or has begun approaching me). a)Because I ignored him I would've just continued my business of leaving. Then he has to either give up or quicken his pace. If he chooses the latter we make direct eye contact. I determine whether its a threatening glare or a person with a plea. Either way the reply is [firmly - and with a look of "No Compromise"]: "Sorry, I can't help you". Its a conversation stopper. Saying, "How may I help you?" allows this guy to close in a little more as he begins talking. Peripheral vision would be keeping watch while I opened the door to the Jeep and picked up the pepper spray if he continues to approach me (I never get this far). There would've been no way to just hop in and drive away because of the locks that are on my Jeep.

4) Also, by this time at some point I would have prayed that I don't have to get into a situation wher I have to hurt someone or end up getting hurt (most likely this would've been after the initial call and before the eye contact).

5)I probably wouldn't have been at a mall by myself. Thats not my kind of place. I don't carry a gun so that feeling at 4 o'clock business is something I wouldn't experience. Basically most times when an attacker feels he's going to have more trouble than he bargained for, he may feel less inclined. Thus, giving you the edge since (hopefully) you've made a resolve to yourself that you're not going to be a victim of some senseless BG's impulse.

April 12, 2002, 01:49 PM
My apologies to Ateam and nbk200 anyone else that I offended.......I'm very new to posting on this forum ........

I guess I thought he was being serious....and I took offense to his joking about such a serious thing........

But the bottom line is,,,,my comments were out of line and I again apologize for them.....

Be aware and be safe ..............

April 12, 2002, 02:03 PM
Kmb, I do believe that AteaM was being sarcastic. ( and damn funny by the way). There are no rules here against sarcasm, but there are rules against calling people names.

On a serious note. My keychain is a Spyderco Delica. I keep it clipped to my pants pocket. The keys are attached by a quick release buckle if I just want the knife. Good way to hold on to you keys. And a handy defensive knife should you need it.

Perhaps this isn't a situation that most of us would get ourselves into. (agree, I would try to make distance) But I thought of one that I don't like, but I have to do just about every day. Buckling your child into a car seat. It forces me to turn my back and stick my head into the vehicle while I fumble around with a squirming 2 year old. Not fun, and somebody could close on you pretty quickly while you are doing this.

We had another TFLer who had a thug get into his "personal space" while he was vacumming out his van. The incident ended with a groin kicked thug.

So maybe this scenario doesn't really apply to us a 100% but I do think it has some merit to examine how we should react if we are taken by surprise. I try to always be in condition yellow. But any of us can be taken by surprise. It would be really easy to look up from something and have a thug within 5 yards. How we react is up to us.

April 12, 2002, 04:13 PM
A curious little incident to follow up with.

On that bright and sunny day that I most recently presented myself at the range for my CCW proficiency test (mandatory for CHL applicants and holders in Texas), I was getting out of my car just as the trainer---a retired army commander with 20 years in the service---was stepping out of the adjacent building for a smoke.

Now it should be noted here that he didn't know me; nor had he seen me at this point, although I did notice him sweep the peripherals with a quick glance as he came through the door.

He reached into his pockets. And it was at this moment, as he was lighting up---weak hand holding the cigarette to his mouth, strong hand holding one of those old Zippo lighters---that all at once I called out to him: "Sir!"

I was less than five yards away, having suddenly emerged full stature on the opposite side of my Chevy.

For whatever reason---possibly the glare coming off the windshields of nearby cars, including my own---he was taken by surprise. What's more: when he saw me, he instantly froze, staring at me with that aquiline gaze of one who knows that this could be it; the day he had trained for; the encounter with the unexpected. But he didn't move. How could he?

One could have cut the tension with a knife in the second or two that followed.

His acknowledgement then came with a controlled, but visibly concerned nodding of the head. He later revealed to me that he carried an STI Eagle cocked and locked under his dark blue Smith & Alexander (or maybe it was a Bratari); and I am absolutely sure to this day that under "normal" conditions, he, with his training and experience, could have sliced me, diced me, and folded each of the tiny pieces four ways before I could have said squat or diddly, if I was a perp. But what got to me was that he could have been an easy target for me then and there, if I were the other guy, what with the glare in his eyes, stuff burning in his hands, and mine nowhere to be reckoned.

I wonder, every time I think about it, what might have happened if someone had had a bone to pick with the commander that day. A sober reminder that, for all of our preparation and awareness, there is always a little blind spot in the manifold of our worldy existence.


April 12, 2002, 08:30 PM

nbk2000(I think was the user name),get a handgun, a permit to carry and some training, and that goes for the rest of you that dont understand the proper use of lethal force.

Sorry if my reply doesn't meet your narrow definition of what a proper response to this scenario should be. I guess if I had said "Unload a magazine of .44 magnum to CNS, reload, and repeat as needed", then that'd get your approval?

Please read some of my prior postings (likethis topic thread (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=108095) ) before painting me with the broad brush of being "ignorant" about the proper use of lethal force and CCW.

I could, if needed, quite easily crush a skull with the cast-iron body of an extinguisher while the attacker is blinded and gagging, so lethal force is still available to me.

Not every weapon has to be a gun.

April 16, 2002, 11:39 PM
I'd say the white powder substance would play a significant role in the investigation if you were to shoot the BG. Of course you wouldn't be thinking of that at the time, but it is interesting. And I am amazed at how many people said it was none of their business. If there is a white powder substance on the ground of a mall parking lot(great teenage hangout place) and it appears to be drugs, it is your business..

As far as answering the question.. I would reach for my cell phone way before my gun, unless of course he threatened my life.. Like everything else, this is different for each person, I run a 4.3 40 and could run circles around the fastest 300 pounder in the world.. So I would simply grab my phone and keep my distance..

April 19, 2002, 02:38 AM
well since he is a big guy i can assume he can't run that fast. so i show him some of my gun and warn him to back off. he doesn't so i run far away from my car and get my car key ready. when he is close enough to me and far from my car i immediately run back to my car. with my car key already in hand i immediately open the door, get inside and lock all the doors. then i start the engine and take off then make a u-turn facing the bad guy. then i play chicken with him. i would not run him over per say, i would try to run over his foot (both of them). see no bullets wasted.