Analysis of a life threatening encounter.
Many of our Tactical Defense Institute students and others interested in personal safety and personal defense have asked us to have John Benner give an analysis of the incident, linked below, involving one of our instructors. The following is from John Benner, Founder and President of TDI:
We place this for your review. I would like to look at this as to the lessons learned. We need to honestly look at incidents to try to learn from them. Since this occurred to one of our own “family” I feel comfortable looking at this critically. We don’t do these things regularly because it is rare you have all the facts.
Let’s start by looking at Mindset: Staying alert, observation skills & understanding what is around you is critical. Remember the O.D.E. Loop, Observe – Detect/Decide – Engage or Disengage.
OBSERVE: He saw it coming from a ways off using good observation skills.
DETECT: He detected the 3 thugs as a potential problem. Kept observing them until they split up – the tell tale sign.
DECIDE: The plan was to attempt to get to the house but time and distance intervened. Was it wise to send the wife ahead (where were the other 2 thugs)? What are the other options for the spouse? It would be great at this point to say “you need to know where the other thugs were”. That would be nice in a perfect world but at night on a dark unlit street – good luck.
Tactics: Did he have the tools? Here he had the 4 main items we suggest people carry whenever possible. He had with a gun, an additional magazine, a knife and a FLASHLIGHT. A good flashlight.
They tried to extricate themselves from the problem but it was not possible. They quicken their pace and then crossed the street.
He used the best available cover – effectively. The tree was substantial enough to stop a round and large enough to provide adequate cover.
Shooting: After being shot at with a shotgun he decided to fight.
ENGAGE: We do not advocate “warning shots” but, with purpose and being (A) a well trained shooter and (B) cool under pressure, fired a round into the tree the thug was using for cover after lighting the tree and area with his flashlight. He was aware of the surrounding home and the risk of potential damage of an errant shot. He did not have a good shot on the thug who was also using cover and he had lost sight of the other 2 thugs. Was that the best thing to do? It in fact worked. Thug #1 decided that these were not going to be easy victims, the other thugs never showed their face. He and his wife are safe and not injured. The incident was reviewed by local law enforcement who had no problem with his actions or his reasoning. There will be no court proceedings, no grand jury and he did not in this instance have to hire an attorney.
Was the round fired a warning shot? Had he fired prior to being shot at and not knowing for sure the thug was armed, yes it would have been a warning shot and we do NOT advocate warning shots. A warning shot may, in fact, be a crime. My opinion is that the fact that he had been shot at was the game changer. He believed he made the safest choice and knew he could make the safest shot possible in the circumstances. With not knowing where the others thugs were, the need to get this over and find his wife, I consider it a calculated shot, returning fire, that tells the thugs “this is a bad choice of potential victims”. It ended the problem, there is no argument with that.
He did a great job defending himself and his wife.
These are all lessons and tactics we consistently teach in our weapons and force on force training at TDI. We often hear from our students that they apply our lessons in tactical awareness to avoid or extricate themselves safely from dangerous circumstances. We take great pride in those success stories.
If you don’t read anything else today, READ THIS. This is a first hand account of the events which happened to one of our long time students, now a TDI Instructor, very recently. TDI begins teaching the principles of personal awareness and decisive action in Handgun 1 & 2. We begin our force on force training with our furtive movement, one on one, exercises in Handgun 3. We continue and broaden the force on force training in our upper level classes. Our students report numerous incidents where their training has allowed them to avoid or safely disengage from dangerous encounters. This is a perfect example of awareness, decisive action, use of space, proper flashlight technique, use of cover, and tactical shooting:
Early November, 8:30 p.m. While out for a walk with my wife and sister-in-law we noticed three men several hundred yards behind us. As we continued our walk the 3 men seemed to be getting closer but were not making an overt attempt to close the distance. Although they were a good distance away we decided to pick up the pace. As we turned onto the street where we were dropping off my sister-in-law, we lost sight of the three. We proceeded to drop my sister-in-law off and continued on to a neighbor’s house one block over. After going about seven houses down the street I looked over my shoulder to find two of the three men within about four houses from us. They were on the same side of the street with about 50 feet separating the two men. There was no sign of the third man. (At this point the tension really ratcheted up, but remarkably, was not much more intense than some of my more stressful experiences with force-on-force training.)
As we picked up the pace another look over my shoulder showed the closest man (thug #1) closing the gap, with about 25 feet separating us. At this point I said to my wife “we’re crossing the street”, which we did on the diagonal. As we rapidly moved across the street thug #1 yelled “hey man, don’t do it”. Our perception at the time was that he was referring to crossing the street (I was carrying in the appendix position and doubt he could see my draw, although, I can’t remember the specific point at which I drew my gun). After thug #1 called out his warning I told my wife to run while I took cover behind a tree on the opposite side of the street. This put me in a position to block the advance of thug #1 toward the area where my wife ran. Not knowing where the other two thugs were I took position behind a tree in an area which provided cover from thug #1, who was at a 45 degree angle from me, and to anyone who may have crossed over to my side of the street.
At this point the tension disappeared and things became eerily calm. Since thug #1 was in the shadows he was difficult to assess. As I was considering my next move I saw the muzzle flash from across the street. (The police later found a 7 ½ shot 12 gauge shotgun shell at thug #1’s location. The impact of the shot was later found in the wet leaves at the base of the tree where I was taking cover.)
Using the 200 lumen light, which I always carry in my left hand when walking at night, I positioned my left arm to the forward part of the right side of the tree to prevent backlighting myself, illuminating the tree where thug #1 was located. (It’s funny what pops into your head … at this point I can hear instructions from previous training to get the light forward, as if I’m being coached.)
After being illuminated, thug #1 hid completely behind the tree which was when, using a single handed grip, I fired one round at the center of the tree where thug #1 was hiding. The purpose of this shot was to keep him behind the tree so he could not shoot again. I believe it also caused him to reconsider the potential cost of continuing the attack. The biggest issues with making this shot were the houses in the background and the contorted shooting position. I thought I took the time to get a good sight picture since it seemed to take a while to get set up to return fire. While I don’t remember the sight picture before firing, afterward I have a vivid mental image of the tree illuminated in white light while the gun and sights appear silhouetted in the yellow light from the muzzle flash.
After firing I yelled “hey man, get out of here, leave me alone”. (Why did I address thug #1 with the same term he used on me? Beats me, just seemed like the thing to do at the time.) Shortly after, thug #1 stepped partially out from behind the tree (but still not a viable target) and seemed to be contemplating what to do next; he then ran off in the opposite direction. After seeing him leave I ran toward the area where I thought my wife was and she directed me to her location, after which we cut through a yard to a parallel street and ran to my in-laws house where we called 911.
What are the key points from this experience?
1-Situational awareness: We kept track of them as best we could; on my in-laws street they were out of sight or we would not have continued on. I picked them up shortly thereafter. In retrospect, it seems we were being hunted after they first saw us.
2-Flashlight: With a high quality flashlight I was able to illuminate the area where thug #1 was hiding which forced him completely behind cover and unable to fire. The light had to be disorienting to him and also disconcerting that he had targeted someone more prepared then he was expecting.
3-Tritium sights: While I don’t explicitly remember using the sights, it was far too dark to make the shot without them. Since the bullet hit the center of the tree where I was aiming, the sights had to be aligned.
4-Awareness of what is in the area of your threat: There were houses directly behind the tree where thug #1 was hiding, making accurate fire critical. I also fired only one round to keep him from firing again and to take the initiative. Thug #1 had a free fire zone; I have to worry about stray rounds. Make every shot count.
Use of space: Space truly is your friend. I later counted 12 paces as the distance between us when the shooting started. That forced him to shoot at a distance beyond his skills set and provided me the opportunity to use the tree for cover against the two thugs on the street.
5-Training: There is no doubt in my mind that force-on-force training was the key to dealing with the stress, integrating the tactics and shooting skills that led to a successful outcome.
Comments are closed.