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Old November 22, 2009, 01:44 PM   #1
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Today's Denver Post Article on Thugs

Got me thinking about this disturbing trend in urban violence. Gang members attack and rob citizens while their confederates videotape the crime.

Last night I was downtown for dinner and a show with my wife. I was carrying, a Sig P232 with an extra magazine and laser sights, as always. I am 57, with an artificial hip that limits my mobility, my wife is 60 and can't run either, due to back injuries suffered when a horse went down and fell on her. We had a lovely evening, and not a hint of trouble. But. . .

If confronted by a group of young, threatening men taunting and trying to goad me into a sucker punch; I'd like to think that I would not be drawn into a confrontation, however,

Failing that should I:

Tell them to leave us alone, that I will defend us if we are not left alone?

Try and move quickly to a defensive position with my wife behind me and a solid object behind her, so that I only have to concentrate on what is in front of me and on my flanks. Yell Fire! or Help? Have the wife dial 911 on her cell. . .

Draw my weapon, light up the closest or most threatening member of the group with the laser and have my wife call 911?

I'd like to hear what others would do if faced with a threat like this?


The Denver Police Department arrested 32 men and juvenile boys after a months-long undercover investigation into what police said were racially motivated assaults and robberies in downtown Denver, including the LoDo entertainment district.

A task force composed of Denver police, the FBI and the Denver district attorney's office investigated 26 incidents in which groups of black males verbally harassed, assaulted and at times robbed white or Latino males, according to Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman.

All of the suspects are young black males, most of whom told police they were associated with either the Rollin' 60s Crips gang or the Black Gangster Disciples gang.

They are charged with varying counts of bias-motivated assault and, in some cases, robbery — all felony crimes.

The investigation determined that there was no single mastermind behind the summer and fall assaults, District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said. It is clear, however, that the two groups communicated, he said.

Groups of four or five black men would approach a victim late at night or early in the morning and attempt to spark a fight by verbally berating him, Whitman said.

The suspects made references to the victims' race during the assaults.

Victims were punched in the head, resulting in head injuries, broken noses and shattered eye sockets, according to Whitman. No one was killed during the months of attacks.

Some victims' wallets, iPods, cash and other small items were stolen after the assault.

Whitman said it might be the largest racially motivated criminal group effort ever in Denver.

"We have seen coordinated efforts before, but not by this large of a group," Whitman said.

A pattern emerged

Assaults were often recorded on video cameras mounted throughout parts of the city. The first of the assaults was in July.

As a pattern emerged, police dispatched undercover teams to areas near clubs and late-night restaurants where assaults were occurring to intervene.

In September, police asked the public for help in solving 14 downtown muggings but chose not to alert the public to the racial nature of the crimes, or the scope of the investigation underway, out of concern that the undercover effort would be compromised.

Denver police are still looking for suspects and victims involved in six unreported robberies and assaults captured on video.

The footage indicates that they may be related to the 26 reported instan ces.

Victims involved in the assaults may not know that their attacks were part of a larger pattern, Morrissey said.

Fifty-five warrants were issued for the 35 suspects. Some suspects may have been involved in more than one assault.

24-hour sweep

All 32 suspects arrested during the 24-hour sweep know one another, Morrissey said.

But finding almost all of the people they wanted surprised police.

"I was surprised we only missed four of them," Whitman said.

A short time after he spoke, one more was caught.

Three suspects, Allen Ford, Torrence McCall and one juvenile, are still at large.

Suspects are being held on $1 million bail for each count.

Last edited by Dresden2001; November 22, 2009 at 01:46 PM. Reason: Punctuation
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Old November 22, 2009, 05:52 PM   #2
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Physically, we are probably even, though I am 65 & my wife is 60.

Given the parameters as you described them, . . . I've already made my decision, . . . and it won't be to yell fire or help.

Two or more young, gang-banger looking dudes (race is absolutely irrelevant), corner my wife and I, . . . indicate robbery or mugging, . . . I'll probably say something like "Let me get my check book" and while they are anticipating a check, . . . I'll retrieve my 1911, . . . and the story will unfold from there.

No, . . . I have no desire to shoot anyone, . . . and if they decide to leave for parts other-where, . . . goodbye and good riddance. If not, . . . I have no inclination to become a punching bag for a bunch of punks.

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Old November 22, 2009, 06:23 PM   #3
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but chose not to alert the public to the racial nature of the crimes, or the scope of the investigation underway, out of concern that the undercover effort would be compromised.

I'm sure that is the real reason.
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Old November 22, 2009, 07:14 PM   #4
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Better to get hurt fighting than acting like an unconcerned sheep.

My 2 cents.
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Old November 22, 2009, 07:55 PM   #5
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Wife is Denver PD who worked foot patrol while this was brewing in that area (Dist 6 and Dist 2) and there is more to this story than what's being told here (surprize). In MOST of these assaults, these were ambushes, plain and simple. The whole 'confront and insult' bit simply wasn't happening as the article implies. Also, a lot of these fights were coming out of a select few bars and a select few areas around the Denver light rail at 1am or later.

I would hope that the vast majority of TFL readers would heed COL Cooper's advice about not going stupid places with stupid people. The thing that annoys me is that this isn't being pursued as a race/hate crime.
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Old November 23, 2009, 12:12 AM   #6
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I wouldn't be surprised if some of these assaults and robberies were committed in Colorado Springs. There's been a string of incidents where people were jumped in business parking lots or walking on sidewalks. It looked to me like the criminals were cruising looking for easy prey.
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Old November 23, 2009, 05:17 AM   #7
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Whenever I see thugs I see a problem. Avoid them like the plague. Don't be in a position to be accosted by them. Not a single one of us wants to shoot anyone so the best thing to do is not to make one's self a target.
There is a saying "you don't have to go looking for trouble because trouble will go looking for you"
Are you in an area where you don't need to be.
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2. Never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot.
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Old November 23, 2009, 03:22 PM   #8
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Try and move quickly to a defensive position with my wife behind me and a solid object behind her, so that I only have to concentrate on what is in front of me and on my flanks. Yell Fire! or Help? Have the wife dial 911 on her cell. . .
Draw my weapon, light up the closest or most threatening member of the group with the laser and have my wife call 911?
I'd like to hear what others would do if faced with a threat like this?
Beating on me is one thing. I'd gladly give up a cell, wallet, cash, not to have to shoot someone. And I can fight pretty damn dirty and pretty well. Or used to, anyhow. Still, i'd think that anyone of us, surrounded by 5 young men intent on forcible felony (i didn't see mention of weapons - were there any?), could justify lethal force once the beating actually began. Those kind of lopsided numbers could easily translate into fear of imminent death or great bodily injury.

But your question was, what if my wife and i...?

Several young men, intent on forcible felony, with my wife in the picture? Absolutely cause for fearing for her life, her virtue, my life, in that order. Just as a female alone drawing a gun in that situation would almost certainly pass the "reasonable person" test, i believe so could an older (i'm nearly 50) man with his wife in jeopardy. As in, they could beat me unconscious or kill me, take her and do unspeakable things to her, then kill her and leave no witnesses.

So yes, i think backing up to a solid surface - maybe a car, a building is better - giving the "I am armed and will shoot you" command in my best Sargeant's voice, and painting the closest one with a laser might very well be appropriate while the Mrs. calls 911. Not trying to be gonzo, but the reason i carry in the first place is to defend my family.

A much better strategy is not to be there at all. Remember the first rule - if you're going somewhere that you really "need" to carry your gun, don't go. I'm sure there are lots of nice suburban restaurants or better locations with brightly lit parking lots you can frequent.
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Old November 23, 2009, 04:20 PM   #9
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If I was armed in the situation you described:

Keep walking away without turning your backs on them and don't say a word. If nothing happens, then great - you're done.

If one or more of them approach you in a threatening manner, pull your gun, and loudly tell them to STOP right where they are. Have your wife call 911 if possible. If no phone is available, start putting distance between you and them - most likely they will shoult a few things but won't advance.

If they don't stop, but continue to advance in a threatening manner, despite several warnings - shoot the one who's closest. Call your attorney, then call the cops.....It's going to be a bad day for everyone.

If you are not armed - do whatever you can to buy some time to get your wife the heck out of there and to the car. Try your best to buy more time, to difuse the situation and get the heck out of there. Run!! Run like your life depends on it. Unless you're a really well trained fighter, you're not going to come out the winner in a fight with multiple Urban Youth.
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Old November 23, 2009, 04:29 PM   #10
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try to avoid but don't be naive. Multiple youths vs older couple = assault and/or injury many times.

I agree if there is imminent danger of bodily harm then fire multiple times on the aggressor to stop the threat. If he stops but another persists then he also gets hollow points.

Odds are the remaining few will scatter. But watch your back and call the cops.

And try to locate any witnesses who will talk with police and agree that you were threatened / attacked first.
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Old November 23, 2009, 06:12 PM   #11
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Be perfectly aware that todays gang punks are a totally different breed of cat than what most of us were used to back in our fighting days of youth. If they get you down, they will kick you as hard they can, several times. The result won't be a cut lip or a bloody nose. They will be trying to mess you up.
If you manage to get the drop on them, if there are 5 of them chances are good they will all try to outdo the other in who can display the biggest show of bravado. They will likely try to call your bluff. "Wachu gonna do shoot us?" I think I'd try to make it perfectly clear that the price of poker just went up and the first one who takes another step toward me is going to be dead on his feet, not just shot, dead. And then pray that I have what it takes to do it. We all think we can, we never know for sure till the balloon goes up.
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Old November 23, 2009, 06:24 PM   #12
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Try and move quickly to a defensive position

Draw my weapon, light up t

I no longer can move my legs fast enough to 'move away quickly' so I won't.

I can draw and be on target (COM) in 2 seconds because I've practiced this.

I would place my loved one(s) behind me and warn these guys to stay where they are.

If they continued to advance I would draw and warn again.

If they had little enough sense to continue to advance within 5 yds I would 'light them up' for sure.
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Old November 24, 2009, 02:39 PM   #13
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I agree with many of the suggestions above, except for the "don't go there in the first place" one. Couples ought to go downtown for dinner and a show. It's healthy and fun, and much better than yet another trip to the suburban Golden Corral.

My livelihood puts me in downtown urban areas, often late at night. I'm not going to give up a gig at HOB for fear of my surroundings. I love working in live music, and that means dealing with certain elements. I almost always take the train when traveling downtown.

All I can add to the conversation is this:

You will typically hear a group of people before seeing them. As I stand by the train station at 1:30 a.m., I'm amazed at how loudly people laugh and talk. Some yell into phones, others basically shout to people standing two feet away. I'd be shocked if a group of kids drew close without first signaling their presence via sound. It might allow me to take a detour without being seen.

Know your precise location at all times. A 911 call will prove absolutely meaningless if your wife cannot relay your exact location. Understand the lay of the land beforehand, and pay attention to the block numbers on every street sign.

If you must drive, use the valet service. You're asking for trouble in so many ways if you try to park your car downtown. If you can keep your feet off the street entirely, it kinda eliminates the threat, right?

I'll let others answer the question of what to do if actually confronted. I've been fortunate enough to avoid danger so far. If I'm on the street that late I'm probably jogging or running anyway, and I'd probably just start running a lot faster. I sincerely understand that that's not always an option, though. It would be a different ballgame involving the wife.
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Old November 24, 2009, 03:28 PM   #14
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If you stay under your bed and be real quiet you will probably be safe ???
I get the point of staying out of bad places, most people know the neighborhoods in their town were the drug dealers ply their trade openly on the street corners (I often wonder why Local PD doesn't know ? ) and I say definitely stay away from these places, but going downtown for dinner and a show you should not deny yourself.
If my wife and I was accosted in this scenario I would have my wife behind me as we backed away from the threat I would pull back my coat and place my hand on my 4013 which I wear on my waist at 4 o'clock and shout some form of warning and keep backing away until the point of no return when I would draw and fire.
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Old November 25, 2009, 12:35 PM   #15
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Deadly force vs. Fear of Great Bodily Harm

Okay, assume this encounter took place in a location you wouldn't normally think about avoiding. I concede the point about taking your wife out from time to time!

To take this discussion to a slightly different plane, let me pose the following:

As i already said, and others agree, 5 dudes coming at a middle age couple is an obvious disparity of force sufficient to create a reasonable fear of great bodily injury or death. So, when does that threat become "legal"? What i mean is, when have the gang satisfied the three requirements so you would be legally justified to draw and shoot?

1.Intent. If they say, "give up your money or die", they've signalled their intent - to rob you, and perhaps kill you. If they threaten you or display a weapon, they satisfy the intent question also. What if they don't? What if it starts with a guy trying to bum a cigarette, then there's 2 guys starting to argue with you, then 5 guys all obviously agitated and shouting crap at you but they haven't threatened you with violence yet or closed the gap between you. Do they have to start beating on you or grab your wife before their intent is clear? What would a reasonable person deduce from the same circumstances?

2. Ability. Yeah, 5 guys could almost certainly beat the crap out of me. I'm not bruce (lee or willis). Even if i could take one, or even 2, down with me, i'm eventually going down and the rest of them would still be standing (and angrier). So yeah, ability here doesn't even require them to display a weapon. If they display a weapon, all bets are off. Then i believe they would satisfy Ability, Intent and Opportunity.

3. Opportunity. When could they actually take you down? A guy with a knife isn't an imminent threat from 60 feet away, but from 60 inches certainly would be. what if they have a couple of baseball bats? Same thing. What about fists? How close do you let them get before you pull? Before you shoot? 10 feet? 20 feet?

Just asking. This is the kind of scenario that turns me cold - with my wife or kids in jeopardy and there is no right answer, no immediate "guy in the bedroom holding a knife shoot NOW" recognition of the imminent peril. It might seem like it escalates quickly, but in reality this could take several minutes to go down or build up, as you prefer.

Generally speaking, it is considered unlawful to draw if your aren't - at that moment - also justified in shooting, whether you do or do not then shoot. In a case like this, i expect that drawing the gun would immediately cause 1 of 2 things. Either they would vanish, or they would attack. If they vanish, fine. If they attack, you shoot. Might a reasonable person (ie., member of a jury)think your act of drawing the gun precipitated the attack?

Your thoughts?
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Old November 25, 2009, 12:55 PM   #16
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Keep them eyes peeled! The fishbowl we live in is only getting smaller and more hostile.
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Old November 26, 2009, 08:19 AM   #17
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From my experiences -

Definitely don't get encircled, backing into a corner or against a wall can help prevent that. It may also limit the numbers than can access you but don't allow yourself to be put into a position where observation by others is less likely. In addition or as an alternative get some object between you and them. That can be something as simple as a pole, a trash can, a table, or a parked vehicle. They will recognize the object as a line you have drawn not to be crossed.

I don't say anything when standing off attackers. People fear the unknown and their instinct for self-preservation causes them to be hesitant. I warn only with my eyes and my stance. I've seen a simple verbal warning enrage the aggressor into initiating his attack. That was burned into my consciousness as a huge mistake and it is not one I will ever make again.

Anything to buy time helps. Stall for witnesses who will testify you were cornered and reluctant to fight. Rescuers can and do happen along. I faced a life threatening criminal down to the point that he backed off and left me alone (he had a butcher knife). According to him I was "just not worth it". I assume he meant the gamble was not worth it because although I was unarmed I had every intention of surviving that incident. If deadly force is needed stalling for time may provide you with an opening. Action beats reaction but when coupled with distraction or inattention on their part it can be worth a great deal more.

It may be possible to send the female on ahead to seek safety while holding them at bay? That isn't always going to be possible because they may have bracketed you with lookouts, but it is something I would consider.

If I ever have to shoot anyone it will be their choice, not mine. I think can live with that.
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Old November 26, 2009, 12:59 PM   #18
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One situation that has never been discussed here, and hopefully this practice will not take root in the USA. However with the explosive growth of Latino gangs it could.

I was in Lima, Peru. Gangs of homeless youths run in packs...their favorite tactic is to run by you, and stab you in the loose your mobility, and get swarmed, robbed, kicked, and you are leaking blood.

I came close, but was able to get my back against a wall, and one side had a little protection as well. They just ran down the street looking for easier prey.
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Old November 26, 2009, 01:41 PM   #19
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It's great advice for good people to avoid bad places. Sadly though those bent on robbery, and mayhem tend to go to good places, to find good people. If a person wanted to make a quick easy buck by force... for what ever reason. Would he go to a bad place where the average person is as least as bad as he? Will probably be at least as well armed as he? May have more friends than he?... Probably not. The guy bent on robbery will most go to where people will be less aware of the dangers of the streets, less likely to be armed, less likely to be willing to defend themselves.

As I've stated in earlier posts I believe that most criminals who are willing to use force against Herb's ( the street name for a likely victim) is pretty much a lazy,coward.

Knowing this I tend to be as aware of my surroundings, in good company as well as in bad. I also carry a firearm to places many people would deem inapropriate. My advice would be to always be armed and prepared for a confronataion... even at the finest resturant.
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Old November 27, 2009, 04:26 PM   #20
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i didn't see in the article where thier confederates were videoing it, but that doesn't really matter.
in oklahoma we have the stand your ground law in which you can use deadly force to defend your self if you feel in fear for your life anyplace you have a legal right to be.a group corners me in said manner i would feel great fear
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Old November 27, 2009, 05:36 PM   #21
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That is the exact reason I avoid downtown if I can help it. If it cant be helped I load a little heavier for the trip. I always try to get a big pack to travel in, safety in numbers. I try to remain in view of one or more other people on the street for witness.

When I'm downtown I adopt the attitude of me and the stranger across the street are in this together. I keep watch on him, he keeps watch on me. That way we see if the other is attacked, and, hopefully, we see if the other is going to attack.

It's kinda like: you could be my enemy, but you also could be my friend. If your trying to stay safe from thugs then we can help each other. If your going to come after me, at least I'll see you coming and be ready.
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Old November 27, 2009, 06:12 PM   #22
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Gang-bangers, Thugs, etc... I can say with honesty that I do in fact hate this breed of individual no matter the race (i'm hesitant to refer to them as humans--I consider them bottom of the barrel humanoid impersonators at best). They feed on and take pleasure in how much pain and grief they can cause other people--usually people who I would consider honest, good, hard-working people. Call it extreme--personally I don't care--but if more people WOULD stand up for themselves with lethal force against this sub-human gutter-scum, the problem just might decline as the little slime-suckers keep finding themselves winding up dead as a result. Eliminate enough of 'em, and the smarter ones just might wisen up enough to join the human race. There is no place in society for this kind of scum, and I really don't see the point in spending $40K a year of taxpayer money for each of them to put them in a facility that gives them more rights and opportunities than the rest of us get.
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Old November 27, 2009, 07:03 PM   #23
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Just one observation...

Generally speaking it is unwise, no matter how old you are, to draw a weapon and attempt to threaten anyone with it...particularly when facing multiple adversaries.

If circumstances warrant the legal use of deadly force ('you reasonably believe you are in immediate jeopardy from a threat to your life or that of others'), and those circumstances result in you producing a weapon, you'd better use it.

If you don't intend to draw it and fire, think twice about drawing it to begin with.

Drawing a weapon and attempting to hold it on someone while facing multiple adversaries puts you at risk not only tactically but also legally - especially if videotape footage might suggest that at the moment you produced a firearm you were NOT facing an imminent threat to your life or that of someone else.

Certainly finding yourself suddenly facing a half dozen young men might be construed as threatening, as they demand your money etc. In my opinion, however, unless you're intending to immediately take them under fire - whether they are actually armed, or displaying weapons, or not - there may be other response options that are more defensible in court than drawing a weapon and threatening them with it.

For what its worth.

Your mileage may most definitely vary...
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Old November 27, 2009, 07:50 PM   #24
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Here's my take on it.

First a little information from the new article (correct in detail or not, it's a reference).
All of the suspects are young black males, most of whom told police they were associated with either the Rollin' 60s Crips gang or the Black Gangster Disciples gang.
Groups of four or five black men would approach a victim late at night or early in the morning and attempt to spark a fight by verbally berating him, Whitman said.

The suspects made references to the victims' race during the assaults.

Victims were punched in the head, resulting in head injuries, broken noses and shattered eye sockets, according to Whitman. No one was killed during the months of attacks.
The key element here is disparity of force.
Four or five young men against an older male or couple.
Hostile and using taunting statements, insults, racial epithets, etc.

In the cases outlined, notice the types of injuries sustained by the victims are mostly to the head. These can be seriously disabling or fatal.

If I'm confronted of odds of 4:1 or 5:2, especially if my companion is a woman who isn't a trained fighter, then the last component in this is distance. If they are across a busy street I'll continue walking while splitting my attention between them and what's ahead. I'd worry that their taunts were diversionary to allow cohorts to surprise us a little further ahead.

However, if they are within 25 feet and/or are attempting to close around us, it's show & tell time. That will be followed with either "Go away!" or "Get out of here!"

If, as nitetrane says, one of them calls the bluff and asks "Whatcha gonna do, shoot us?" the answer is simple. "Yes, you first." whilst holding the muzzle on his COM. If one or more approach, it's time to light 'em up because they are not dissuaded by your weapon or defensive capability.

At 25 feet, it is possible that one of them could charge you and reach you before deploying your firearm. Two or more could certainly overwhelm you, even if you got off a shot.

Also remember that in a court, your defense attorney is going to argue the disparity of force favors you -- that your age & physical condition were no match for 4-5 opponents who were hostile enough to ignore the presence of your firearm. That you were concerned with defending yourself and companion.

The reality is, I believe, that you are unlikely to receive much of a warning. They will come out of some space - a parking lot, restaurant waiting area or shop - already having pegged you as their victim. They may step out almost in front of you or come out as a group with most passing you by, only to attack from the rear while you're watching the last one or two approach.

In such a case you may not be able to draw your gun with two of them beating on you. Breaking contact to give yourself a second or two to deploy and re-engage may be your only chance to defend your companion. Alone, breaking contact to deploy your weapon as you retreat, trying to avoid tunnel vision as you go.
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Old November 27, 2009, 08:41 PM   #25
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My reality; A 68 year old disabled male with a 74 year old Admiral who I will defend at the risk of myself as all of us here would. But our physical condition leaves me one option. Stop the threat before it can really materialize. Disparity of force? Your average 18 year old fits that requirement. So, we are always careful where we go, restaraunts with well lit parking lots and go fairly early, avoid malls and WW at night, use some common sense. We've both lived a long time and plan to live a lot longer. So I make sure the battery in my laser is checked weekly and I try to put 100 rounds thru my main carry every month.

And these banger/thug types? I'll swerve to miss a squirell. The only reason I'd swerve to miss one of them is to not dent my car. 40 tears ago I did not have a gun but one of them got cut pretty bad. I have a lot less use for that scum now than I did 40 years ago.

And thanks be that I live in Florida. No retreat.
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