Unlike your humble scribe, Ralph knows what it feels like to have bullets aimed in your direction. Surprisingly, our resident one-liner provider reports that the attempted murder made him angry. “I just wanted to kill him,” Ralph said. And there you have it: the “fight” part of the “fight, flight or freeze” response to life-threatening danger. While fighting is a perfectly understandable and entirely useful strategic option, it’s important to realize its limits. You need to know when to turn it on—and when to turn it off. You know; if you can. And if you can, you really need to stop fighting when your life is no longer in danger. To wit this, via chicagotribune.com: “The incident began when an eyewitness called 911 to report three masked men entering the business, according to Pat Camden, a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police . . .

Four officers arriving at the scene heard gunshots from inside the business, then saw the three masked men carrying handguns fleeing outside, Camden said.

Behind them was a fourth man, later determined to be the store clerk, firing shots at the fleeing men, Camden said.

The cops, not knowing who the aggressor was, opened fire, Camden said.

Well, of course they did. Equally obvious, the Chicago cops are saying that it wazzunt them that shot the clerk. Maybe.

“(The officers) had no idea what was going on — police officers return fire, three offenders are hit,” Camden said. The store clerk was also struck, he said.

Camden said it wasn’t immediately clear whether the four were struck by police gunfire, or whether the men wounded one another.

“At this point, we don’t know if the (masked men) were hit by the store clerk, or…if the offenders fired,” Camden said. “It’s kind of all up in the air.”

In a statement released this morning, Chicago police said the officers wounded the three men, but only when they pointed their weapons at the officers. The statement also said the fourth victim, presumably the store clerk, was discovered wounded inside the business, but doesn’t say who shot him.

So we don’t really know if the cops would have opened fire on the trio of robbers if the clerk hadn’t been chasing the bad guys, attempting to shoot them. But we do know that the clerk got shot for his crime fighting/retaliatory efforts. That he was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing.

Race car drivers call it the “red mist”: a state of mind characterized by unbridled aggression. They suddenly lose the ability to think, reason or plan. In other words, drive. Misted men often crash, and take others with them. As it did here, the red mist can lead to a real mess.

As always situational awareness and avoidance is the best “solution.” As far as training yourself to know when to stop goes, to avoid playing misty, the rabbi’s shoot/no-shoot video is ace and force-on-force training (paintball?) is a must. In any case, be mindful of your inner Dirty Harry. The shorter the gun fight, the luckier you get.

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40 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Do Not Pursue an Attacker

  1. You’re being critical of a hero again.

    You don’t know who shot the clerk but you’re willing to criticize him nonetheless. If the robbers were the one who shot him then that implies that he was justified in fighting back.

    But that wouldn’t fit your agenda to encourage supine behavior in the face of a threat.

    If those men were armed and had the intent to further their crimes then this hero had a moral obligation to stop them if he had the means. The police had an obligation to figure out who was the bad guy before shooting. If they make an error then we should all agree that no fault lies with them, but that doesn’t mean we transfer the blame to the victim.

    • I dont agree with the criticism, but around here RF would be correct. Our self defense laws in IL include a duty to retreat.

    • It seems to me Robert is using this situation as an example for a particular type of scenario – it is not a detailed blow by blow analysis of what happened. He explicitly states that it is not known who shot the store clerk.

    • Yes, let’s be critical, because that’s how you come to understand. Think of this as an after action review. It looks like in this case, as in a lot of cases, pursuit was a bad option. As appealing as the idea of deputizing oneself is, you’re doing so at your own risk, at no one else’s behest.

      • Evaluating the situation as a means of an after action review is a good thing, but in this case we know far too few facts to have that understanding in order to be critical. This is just spouting off in ignorance.

        • If we know too little to criticize, then we know too little to praise as well. Deferring judgment goes both ways. Getting back on topic, I don’t think Robert was encouraging submission in this case. My reading of this post was to caution against stepping over the line from defense to offense. In a lot of juridictions, even those without a duty to retreat, you can lose your legal protections associated with self-defense if you’re seen as becoming the aggressor. Why risk that? Also, from the purely tactical standpoint, if the attacker has turned and truly departed the scene, you’ve won the encounter. Take the victory and turn your attention to what’s going on around you. Are you hurt? Is anyone else hurt? Is there anything you need to do right now?

  2. I agree that one should stop fighting once the threat has ceased, but the clerk may very well have been shot by the criminals well before the ensuing chase outside and police involvement.

    So, no, we don’t “know that the clerk got shot for his crime fighting/retaliatory efforts.” He may have been shot incident to the robbery then drawn his own weapon to return fire.

  3. Ive lived in Chicago. If there is any place where chasing the perps is entirely an appropriate response it is in that city.

    Considering that a defensive gun use in Chicago is a certain ticket to jail in any event, the guy had nothing to loose by ensuring the jackwagons who tried to kill him never did it again.

  4. The point is that the moment the BGs turn around placing their back to you and run away, your life is no longer in danger according to the law. As a result you no longer have justification for use of deadly force. At that point you cannot shoot them because you are no longer on the defense. You have become offensive, going after a person. Good luck not being charged with something if you shoot anyone in the back.

  5. So the CPD pulled an NYPD and the clerk is the bad guy? I would love to see details from the scene but I have a feeling the officers were not in the line of fire, then proceeded to go all beirut once any shooting started. Whats going to happen when IL finally gets conceal carry? You cant just have cpd officers opening fire without warning if they are not in danger or you are going to see more ccers killed than bad guys by the CPD.

  6. Okay, it’s kinda wise to break off rather than pursue, but that’s not always going to happen.

    When the bullets are flying in your direction, you will not be going through the math in your head. You will not be saying to yourself, “gee, according to Section 3 of Paragraph 6b sub (i) of the Municipal Code, if I fire I could get into trouble.”

    No, once you are on the wrong end of the gun, you already are in trouble, and you will either fight or piss your pants. And the odds are that when you’re jacked up on adrenalin and fighting for your life, you will not disengage at precisely the moment in time seemingly required by statute.

    Prosecutions of an honest citizen in “hot pursuit” are rare. That’s because the law isn’t stupid. It understands that people are not immune from the pressure of life and death situations. Based on this post, the defender didn’t cross the line from pursuer to avenging angel. Unwise is not a synonym for wrong.

    • “Prosecutions of an honest citizen in “hot pursuit” are rare. ”

      You have to remember that this is Cook county, a place our state legislature tried to kick out of Illinois, by default making it the 51st state. As a 15 year old kid, I had a Cook county ASA ask a judge I be incarcerated indefinitely (yes they really did say indefinitely) because I had a trench coat after the Columbine HS incident.

    • All the more natural to continue in hot-pursuit when the clerk is outnumbered three-to-one. The danger is enormous and his emotions would be screaming “make sure they don’t turn back toward the store.” As for Cook County, it holds DGU complexities far beyond my comphrehension. We could as well be discussing the safety of well-water in Kazakhstan.

  7. I had to read this twice. At first, I thought that the TTAG’s own great sage Ralph had taken a job as a store clerk in Chicago at B&B Beauty Supply, and then gotten into a shootout with local hoods and the local Brown Shirt police.

    “Three masked bandits and a store clerk were wounded in a shootout after police officers were called to a robbery”
    — The using of the word Bandits (to me) to describe robbers (of some nature) is more associated with the old American West and Mexico.

    • At first, I thought that the TTAG’s own great sage Ralph had gotten into a shootout with local hoods and the local Brown Shirt police.

      Haaaaaaaa. First of all, the only great sage I’m aware of goes into my world famous cornbread chicken stuffing. Don’t even ask for the recipe — I’m taking it to my grave. And second, I wouldn’t be caught dead in Chicago, much less get shot there.

      • Your attitude toward Chicago can only be called a sage grouse. Noun or adjective… either interpretation works.

      • “Ralph’s world famous cornbread chicken stuffing”
        I’m taking it to my grave’

        Ralph,

        Share that recipe with your brother gun owners. Every time we make it we’ll be honoring you. Remember the poem by Will Allen Dromgoole:

        The Bridge Builder

        An old man, going a lone highway,
        Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
        To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
        Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

        The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
        The sullen stream had no fear for him;
        But he turned, when safe on the other side,
        And built a bridge to span the tide.

        “Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,
        “You are wasting strength with building here;
        Your journey will end with the ending day;
        You never again will pass this way;
        You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
        Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?”

        The builder lifted his old gray head:
        “Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
        “There followeth after me today,
        A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

        This chasm, that has been naught to me,
        To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
        He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
        Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”

        • Ralph,

          A great Christian mystic Saint Francis of Assisi wrote his famous prayer that contains many lessons about life.

          Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
          Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
          where there is injury,pardon;
          where there is doubt, faith;
          where there is despair, hope;
          where there is darkness, light;
          and where there is sadness, joy.

          O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
          to be consoled as to console;
          to be understood as to understand;
          to be loved as to love.
          For it is in giving that we receive;
          it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
          and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
          Amen

          Remember, the key lesson here Ralph; “For it is in giving that we receive”

          By sharing your Cornbread Chicken Stuffing Recipe with us you will receive far more than you can ever imagine. Even St. Francis wants you to share it with us.

  8. I would really like to learn more as to the outcome of this incident. At face the glaring fact to me is something I’ve known for years. One of the most dangerous creatures on earth is a confused cop. For the poor clerk the danger he faced in three armed hold-up men was compounded when the cops arrived in the middle of the shoot-out. The other bad luck he had that day was to live where he lives. That may be proven by learning more. In the ‘guns bad’ parts of the country many of the things the previous posters have said are true. In fact, he may face civil lawsuits from his ‘victims.’ A cop told me once if you have to shoot a bad guy, finish him off, you’re less likely to be sued by a dead man.

    • One of the most dangerous creatures on earth is a confused cop.

      One of the most dangerous creatures on earth is a confused cop with a gun and six of his friends buzzing around screaming unintelligible sh!t.

  9. I don’t want to get in a battle with anyone, I just want to take my next breath and if I can do that without popping off a few caps then I’m better because of it. Problem is, the other dude may not feel as charitable as I am.

  10. Wait! This is a joke, right? This happened in Chicago? But… that’s not possible. Chicago has no crime. They don’t need guns. You’re not allowed to think about guns in Chicago. This must be a joke. Chicago is the only city in the world that is immune to violence. I think they meant Detroit or something. Must’ve been a typo. Impossible!

  11. Two points to ponder…
    1) This is just the beginning of this story. 2)In the two or three years it is going to take to investigate and prosecute this case, do you really think we are going to find out who really shot the clerk.

    Three guys coming out of a store masked and carrying guns, being followed by a forth guy (Not Masked) carrying a gun. Who do the cops shoot? Mask or no mask.

  12. Real recipe for disaster.

    I actually fear that if I ever get in a gun battle or I have the BGs cornered down under cover or vice versa; and the cops finally show up: Who do they shoot? Me?

  13. Fortunately in Ohio we have a Castle Doctrine law. You can’t be sued by either the perp or his relatives for a DEFENSIVE shooting. Chasing after a fleeing bad guy may change the situation. I don’t think it’s worth trying.

  14. In Chicago, LA, SF, NY, DC, Philly, Miami, Honolulu, Boston, Newark, Hartford, Detroit, Seattle, New Orleans and other Constitution-free zones, Gun Owner equals Criminal.

  15. Seems so very simple to me. The Bad Guys were done with the Robbery & were leaving! The Cops were outside & the Armed Clerk was inside to deny them Cover, Concealment, & a few Hostages! The Bad Guys were stuck between a Rock & a Hard Place! Surrender or get shot down. Unless they had enough Firepower to blast their way out of there. Bonnie & Clyde had been ambushed by the Law before. Bonnie would yell to Clyde, “turn it on Clyde!” Then Clyde would Whip Out his Whip it, a cut down to fit under a Coat BAR. A Select Fire Browning Automatic Rifle aka 30.06 that would punh holes through cars, engine blocks & trees. The Cops had a choice of getting shot or laying flat on the ground. It’s harder to engage a moving target when Your hanging on to the ground. They’d Escaped from more than one Ambush with that method! I doubt these robbers knew about or carried any heavy firepower with them. They were in a bad spot all thanks to the Clerk that fought back. They make a quick safe box for Rifles now. Too bad that He didn’t have an AR-15 or an M-16 with Him. And a way to drop a Cage onto the front of the stores entrance! Then they’d be stuck out there. Just them & the Cops! Then comes the Tear Gas Sprayers! CN/CS. One makes You Cry & Your Skin Burn while You Choke on it. The other makes You Vomit incontrolably & lose control of Your Bowels. Hard to be a Real Tough Guy covered in Vomit & Crap!

  16. In our state, the legal test for the use of deadly force is that there has to be an “imminent and immediate” threat to life or loss of limb, to self or other. It looks like this window may have closed when the perps turned and were fleeing for their lives — or making their get-a-way. I guess “window space” could be added to that legal test since it was already determined that the perps were still armed, still dangerous and now a threat to life or limb of other people outside of the business. That might be the case in my home state of South Carolina and in other enlightened states where the police, media, and fellow citizens might shower the clerk with accolades of appreciation — but … we’re talking about Chicago.

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