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Old March 25, 2006, 09:52 PM   #1
Join Date: March 15, 2006
Location: Shenandoah Valley, VA
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Real Life situation, what I would do differently

No I didn't shoot anybody.....

Last night around 6pm or so, still light out but overcast, I pulled into my parking space at my condo. As I pulled in and stop 2 guys 18/21 years old walking down the sidewalk turned up the sidewalk that leads to my building.

(It is an 'open air' area to get to my door and others on the 1st floor, you do not have to enter the building per se. It is surrounded by the sides and overhead but not enclosed, if that makes any sense)

Which immediately got my attention because no teenagers live in my building and nowhere to go if you aren't entering a unit. The sidewalk(after a couple turns) does lead to/come out the other side of the building so someone 'could' use it as a cut through. Well they didn't turn to go down the side walk they just stopped, at the junction of the 2 walkways. By now I am getting out of my vehicle and walked to the passenger side to retrieve my stuff.

I am glancing up at them and they at me. They are just standing around 'trying' to look nonchalant but not doing a very good job of it. They are about 40-50 feet away.

So I am trying to noodle this through but I can't for the life of me think what bad intentions they would be up too. Though I have no doubt they are looking for trouble.

Aside from their actions, their physical appearance and demeanor/body language had also set my alarm off. As soon as I saw they didn't turn down the walkway to 'cut through' I knew they looking for trouble.These guys were up to NO GOOD!!

I have to go past them to get to my condo.So now I am thinking should I say something to them like, " You don't belong around here, move along". I had a box tucked under my left arm and jacket in same hand.

I decided I was too vulnerable without both arms/hands being available so I decided to not say anything. I proceeded up the sidewalk, had to walk between them, gave them both a good look as I approached and walked by, both averted eye contact with me.

So after thinking this whole episode through a few hundred times a little light bulb went off in my brain. I WAS their target!! There is no other explanation, they saw me pull up and then turned up the sidewalk they knew I would be heading up. This area is blocked from common observation also' as it is surrounded on 3 sides. I am convinced their plan was to rob me or something. So why didn't they? Two words....

Open Carry! God Bless Virginia

I think they changed their mind once they saw my sidearm. When I was getting stuff out of my car this put my right side facing them with my holstered G17 in plain view.

No, I wasn't drunk or imagining some 'scenario' or something that wasn't there, the more I think about it the more I am convinced they were going to rob/mug me or something. Once I got close to them I could see they were more then some pot smoking youths, the older one had criminal written all over him. Kinda creepy...

2 thumbs up for open carry.

What would I do differently:

* Believe that it IS possible someone can/will confront me and rob me. The whole time I was thinking , What could they be up too?, it never occurred to me that "I" was what they were up too.
* Leave my stuff in the car, go back and get it later. It was really stupid of me to have one arm/hand encumbered in that situation.
*Tell them to move along. I did go back out a few minutes later but they were gone.

Hopefully, someone can learn from some of the mistakes I made. Not that I need to say it but suggestions welcome.
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Old March 25, 2006, 10:28 PM   #2
Join Date: March 19, 2006
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I live in Colorado Springs and even though Colorado is a open carry state too, I went out and got a ccw permit. But because I'm an infantry soldier in the army who has spent a year in Iraq, I'm always very aware of whats going on around me. I myself have had to switch from conceled to open carry to avoid a conflict and would do it again if i had too.

Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!!!!
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Old March 25, 2006, 10:39 PM   #3
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I proceeded up the sidewalk, had to walk between them, gave them both a good look as I approached and walked by, both averted eye contact with me.
They had apparently moved into position to launch an attack. I am not sure walking between them was a smart thing to do. You did have a holstered gun, but the Tueller Drill would show you that they would have to be over forty feet apart for you to have a fighting chance in between them. From "sidewalk" distance, you would not have had a chance. Thankfully, they were afraid of your gun, or possibly thought you were a LEO.

A better decision might have been to park elsewhere and enter your apartment from another direction if possible. This might be a good thing to do anyway, vary your routine.

If you had alarm bells going off in your head, you were likely right about their intent. In animals those alarm bells are called survival instinct. In humans, they are called intuition and trivialized often to the point of being rationalized away.

Coincidentally, I just wrote a piece this morning on threat recognition.
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Old March 26, 2006, 12:56 AM   #4
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If you had time to get back into your car and drive away, that's what I would have done. Or, you could sit in your car and honk once or twice. Then yell out the window for your "imaginary friend" to hurry up! Distance is your friend.
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Old March 26, 2006, 03:37 AM   #5
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One big no-no...

was to walk between them. By doing so, you exposed yourself to a simultaneous attack from both sides, which would have been almost impossible to neutralize.

What would I have done?

Upon seeing these two, I would not have unloaded my vehicle. I would have stood in plain view, though, on the other side of my car. As you said, this is the one great aspect of open carry--as you stand up, they can see your firearm.

Call out to them, "Hi! Are you waiting for someone?"

Chances are they will not answer. If they do, tell them you will call them and tell them that they have visitors. One of the following will happen:

1. They will mumble a lame excuse and disappear. (Most likely)
2. They will say, "OK" and stay there. Call the police then, and report suspicious behavior.
3. They will start walking toward you and your vehicle. Get back in, drive off a distance, and call the police.
Hiding in plain sight...
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Old March 26, 2006, 08:30 AM   #6
Join Date: March 15, 2006
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I agree walking between them was a big no no. It never occurred to me that "I" was the trouble they were looking for. That was really the biggest mistake I made. Had I realized this at the time I wouldn't have walked between them or even near them most likely.
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Old March 26, 2006, 09:38 AM   #7
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call 911??

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Old March 26, 2006, 09:59 AM   #8
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I have started to take photographs of suspicious characters and vehicles in my neighborhood. I keep a camera in my car incase I get into a wreck. I keep a notepad and write down plate numbers/dates/times ect. There is a cop that lives around the corner from me. Every few weeks I give him my "stuff". Turns out one of the vehicles I photographed is registered to a guy that is under some type of contempt of court warrant. If I see him again the cops will come running and haul is tail off! There are covert ways to fight crime in your community.
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Old March 26, 2006, 04:12 PM   #9
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I wouldn't have carried the stuff with me. You would need both hands; and having to drop the stuff takes time.

I wouldn't have walked between them; but would have said something like "Hey how you doin?" from 20-30 feet. Observe their reaction in respect to having a G17 on your hip. If they mumble something and move on; they weren't up to good. If they respond friendly with a valid response, I'd feel slightly better.

In the real world, you can't always avoid shady people without not living life. The guy had to get home; he couldn't just leave. He couldn't tell the guys to move; they could have a legit reason for being there. Also, in some areas that could be considered threatening especially with an exposed weapon.
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Old March 26, 2006, 04:29 PM   #10
Join Date: December 31, 2005
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Very interesting situation...

Along with everyone else here, I would not have walked between them. I too am a big fan of open carry just for situations like this. Even after I receive my CCW, I will still open carry most of the time...

In that situation, I would have parked the car and pretended to do something on the passenger side. Then I would have hung around at my car for a few minutes kinda looking in their direction. I would probably have started a conversation with them from the car area if it was close enough, showing that
1. I was not afraid to make eye contact and conversate, and
2. That I was not afraid to make eye contact and conversate.

In no way would that have made me feel better though. Once the alarm goes off, I am paranoid about every little detail until I am a good distance away from the area or I am positive the perceived threat is gone. Making eye contact and showing that you are aware of your surroundings by making small talk might deter them from thinking you are easy prey. A buddy of mine uses humour to diffuse situations such as this. I could very easily picture him saying, "How yall doing? Man yall look like you're ready to rob somebody or somethin... If so then don't even bother with me cause I am flat broke!" while laughing at himself. From that conversation, he might proceed into, "Are yall waiting on someone?"

In any light, having both hands free would have been very important had a situation occured. Since you got a good look at them, be weary of their return to the area... If they come back, with the same type of "look" it might be worth a call to LE.
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Old March 26, 2006, 05:41 PM   #11
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As others have noted and you have acknowledged walking between them was not a good thing. Good on you for your situational awareness, You had a small bell going off. Why even get out of your car? Sit and observe then if your suspicions grow call for a patrol to check them out. Yes, your open carry may and probably did deter them but consider this, you placed your self in a position to react to their action. IOW they had the option to initiate action while you did not. It's hard to outdraw someone who gets a head start. It's good to see that you're doing an "after action review" with the goal of improving.
All that is neccessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
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Old March 26, 2006, 07:57 PM   #12
Join Date: September 18, 2005
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CC to Open

The tactic of swtching from Concealed Carry to Open in states where Open is legal is an interesting idea I have not encountered before. Tactically, it is almost legalized brandishing. (I realize you have to actually draw for it it be technically and illegally brandishing)

Usually one reads about the advantage of surprise with cc. But in this situation, display can be an effective deterrent, while cc is only a more desperate resort when an attack is imminent or in progress. Deterrence is much preferable when you know you are a target.

More preferable still is not entering a situation which you recognize as dangerous. Then the question becomes: is ths situation dangerous if you can warn off the no-goods by displaying a holstered weapon, and maintaining a safe distance? It sounds like in this case it still was not possible to maintain a safe distance, althought an attack was unlikely because at least one would get it.

That leaves the last consideration: if there was an attack and you survived, there are still the legal and emotional issues to consider. That leads me to conclude that ideally, one would not expose oneself to such a situation, but instead employ one of the other delaying/warning off tactics that were suggested.

Interesting post: thanks.
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Old March 26, 2006, 11:24 PM   #13
Join Date: March 12, 2006
Location: Columbus, OH
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I agree with the 'leer at them til they give themselves away' approach. If they were blocking my path I would simply wait them out, unless I was in a hurry. I would probably throw a casual 'can i help you guys find anything' to see if they realized I had my eye on them, and then pick a unobstructed path into my abode. I see suspicious characters from time to time (not that I live in a bad neighborhood) but usually just eyeing them up will make them realize they are under scrutiny, and probably think twice about what they are goona do.

You have probably thought this all out, but I have to ask: do you really fear a daylight attack on yourself in the area you live in? I would venture that it takes a pretty rough place to make that sort of thing remotely possible. Some people just look suspicious no matter what they're doing, even if they are standing outside for a smoke minding their own. On the other hand, if this is the sort of thing that happens more often than most think, maybe I should reconsider who i see as a threat.
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Old March 27, 2006, 12:20 AM   #14
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I have to agree with the others. Why even get out of the car if you think there's even the slightest possibility of these guys being up to no good. Either drive away or sit there with the engine running and call 911. Just because they didn't bother you that doesn't mean they didn't mug the guy next door. You should have called the cops.
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Old March 27, 2006, 02:55 AM   #15
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You left the relative safety of your vehicle where you could have driven away or sounded your horn and flashed you lights to attract attention.But the worst mistake was to approach and walk between the two people who made you suspicious in the first place !! .....There was a bit of film I saw on tv [from the cruisers video camera] where an officer made a traffic stop because he was suspicious, he then found some drugs confirming his suspicions. He then let the three suspects get behind him .They were unarmed but they jumped him and killed him !!...Carrying a gun is just part of the survival process, the rest of it is to be alert and avoid problems !!
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Old March 27, 2006, 04:42 AM   #16
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Daylight attacks

joebob2000, what part of columbus do you live in that you dont think a daytime attack is a threat? Where I am from looking someone in the eyes if they are just standing there minding their own will most likely provoke a problem. My aunt was stabbed in the throat with an ice pick while she was at the drive threw window of a burger king in broad daylight.
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Old March 27, 2006, 12:26 PM   #17
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I'd restart the car and drive off. Go do something and come back later.

If that's not an option, then I'd stay in the car and observe them in detail. Try to see if they are carrying any weapons, and maybe time it so that other people are around and get out.
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Old March 27, 2006, 01:26 PM   #18
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What is wrong with just driving away...

... is that, if these are BG's casing the neighborhood, you have:

1) let them know the residents can be intimidated. If they learn that lesson, next time they're in the area you might not see them until it's too late to avoid a confrontation.

2) let them go. I'm all for avoiding confrontations, but I would have called for police to check these characters out. If they are BG's, they probably have a record already, which means the cops know them and want to be kept current on what they are up to. Heck, if they had a warrant out, or were on probation and carrying a weapon, it might even get them locked up, which would be the best outcome of the incident, IMHO.

And don't worry about "bugging" the local LE. EVERY time my wife or I or our neighbors call the locals to come check something out, they make a point of thanking us and encouraging us to keep it up. The say they can't be everywhere, they need us to be eyes and ears, and they would much rather come to a call that turns out to be nothing than arrive too late to a real crime because folks hold off summoning help until they're "sure" something's up. And think about this, too: even if the guys you see don't get arrested, it lets them know that YOUR neighborhood is one to keep out of if they have trouble on their mind.

Avoiding confrontations and staying safe in the moment is your first goal, no doubt. But remember the longer term and your other neighbors. These guys may have learned not to mess with you, but they may or may not have learned to stay away from your neighbors, too.
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Old March 27, 2006, 05:35 PM   #19
Join Date: March 15, 2006
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There are alot of things I would do differently but driving away in my car is not one of them. Not from in front of my own home.

I'll talk to the Condo Manager tomorrow. There was an increase in crime here over the winter, car break ins, vandalism. It's pretty much a hooligan free area though, so characters like these 2 stand out as soon as you see them.
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Old April 1, 2006, 04:02 PM   #20
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I am actually in hilliard, where the worst we have is petty theft due to pampered high school kids who get into trouble out of boredom. I agree there are some bad parts of c-bus, thankfully I am far away from them. If I lived where I feared a broad daylight attack in any way, I would be looking for a new residence at any cost. I really feel for those without the means to live anywhere else.
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Old April 1, 2006, 05:07 PM   #21
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Get back in your car, start the engine, and call 911 on your cell.
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Old April 1, 2006, 07:31 PM   #22
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It seems like everyone else has pretty much hit on all the points, but I would just like to add one thing.

I am seriously on the fence as to open carry. Strongly leaning towards not liking it at all. My opinion is that I like to maintain the element of surprise in a given situation. If the criminal sees my exposed weapon before he attacks me, it allows him to have critical info, and possibly change his tactic to include dealing with a gun. Might make him kill me quickly as opposed to just robbing me, because he sees I have the weapon.

Put yourself in a different situation. You are approached by a couple guys. One clearly has a gun, the other none showing. Who do you shoot first? I like keeping any edge I can have.....
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Old April 28, 2006, 11:56 AM   #23
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While open carry is legal in Colorado, I wouldn't do it in an urban area. I think it just invites weird looks, suspicion, repeatedly answering the same harassing questions, and also routine harrassment from the police. I think it would be prudent for police officers to stop someone carrying a gun to question him and I don't need that hassel in my life.

I also think open carry may "target" the person for an attack. The attack may be swift and deadly to immediately disable you.
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Old April 28, 2006, 01:22 PM   #24
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I think it would be prudent for police officers to stop someone carrying a gun to question him...
Providing open carry is legal w/out permit in a particular state (i.e., in WI), do you really believe it's appropriate for police to stop and question you when you're engaged in lawful activity and openly carrying a firearm?


You're shopping, no one has called police about the spooky man with a firearm, but an officer notices you and your firearm whilst you're picking out a new cordless drill at Home Depot.

There's no required permit needed (i.e., no need for officer to check), you have not attempted to rob the establishment (i.e., not engaged in unlawful activity)... so what exactly are the prudent reasons behind an officer's questioning, and what particularly prudent questions can you foresee being asked in this situation?
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Old May 2, 2006, 07:46 PM   #25
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Ah, I've run into this situation several times at my apartment complex with shady kids. Former tenants below me were in their early 20s and their pad seemed to be a hangout for underage partying.
The first few times, when it wasn't obvious that they were coming and going from this apartment and they were between me and my front door, I asked them from a safe distance what they were doing. If they were waiting for so-and-so to get home, I told them to wait somewhere else. My response the one time I got lip was, "I live here, you don't. You're in my way. You wouldn't like it if I started showing up on your doorstep everytime you went home at night. This isn't a bus stop. Go away or I'm calling the cops."
Two weeks later they were partying in the parking lot -- drinking and yelling (in Ohio in January) and I got fed up and called the cops. They pulled up three deep and just started throwing kids in the back seat. I felt bad because I definitely had my wilder days, but I never hassled anyone and I certainly wasn't getting hammered in a parking lot when it was 10 degrees outside.
The tenants were evicted about two weeks later. This was in February or so. Maintenance is still trying to clean that apartment out. They even had to rip out the toilet the wrecked the place so bad.
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