“The wounded man was down, screaming for help, and the man with the gun looked like he might not be done shooting. That’s when Andrew Schilperoort, who had just pulled into the parking lot of the Safeway store on Yakima’s North Fifth Avenue, put his pistol and concealed-weapons permit to good use.” So reports yakima-herald.com. Schilperoort is credited with chasing off the shooter before he could put another round into Jaime Partida who had argued with the gunman over a cell phone. Given the same circumstances – seeing a man down, the attacker possibly about to fire a killshot – and the ability to step in, would ya?

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60 Responses to Question of the Day: Would You Have Intervened?

  1. This comment is off the subject . I visit this site everyday . As of yesterday Norton keeps blocking me and says It is a fraudulent web page . What gives ?

  2. I think I would not. Not a person that I’m willing to lose my life and possessions for. It would haunt me though if he was executed

    This is a disturbing statement. “I turned away for a moment…”. One guy down, another one you don’t know, with weapon in hand, and you turn away?

    • “This is a disturbing statement. ‘I turned away for a moment …’. One guy down, another one you don’t know, with weapon in hand, and you turn away?”

      I agree 1000%.

      Another question is why the armed citizen who intervened didn’t actually shoot the criminal … unless the criminal immediately dropped his firearm … which the news account doesn’t say one way or another.

  3. “Given the same circumstances – seeing a man down, the attacker possibly about to fire a killshot – and the ability to step in, would ya?”

    If all I saw was a man with a gun pointed at a man on the ground who appeared to be wounded, I would not intervene because I would have no way of knowing whether the guy standing up with a gun was a good guy or a bad guy. The guy standing up could be an armed citizen who successfully defended themselves from a criminal … and the wounded criminal on the ground could still be a threat, e.g. reaching for a handgun. Thus I would be a “good witness” in that situation.

    In this case the armed citizen saw the entire event. (You can read the entire story at the Yakima Herald link of Mr. Zimmerman’s post) That means the citizen saw the criminal draw his firearm and shoot the the victim. Assuming it was then crystal clear that the man standing up with the gun was the bad guy, I would only intervene if I had the element of surprise and ideally cover.

    I do not look forward to such an event. Part of me says that it was the victim’s responsibility to secure himself and failed thus he deserves whatever happens to him. Another part of me says that the criminal could target me or my family next time so I should stop him now that I have the opportunity. And maybe the victim took all practical steps to secure himself and the criminal got the drop on him anyway.

    The whole point of society is gaining advantage from “strength in numbers”. It sucks to put yourself at risk in a situation like this. It sucks even more if everyone’s attitude is “every man for himself” … like the criminal in this story. As the adage goes, “The only thing good people have to do for evil to succeed is to do nothing at all.”

  4. I’d intervene, but I don’t think I’d start shooting right off, I’d want to make sure who was who first. A weapon draw and verbal commands, definitely. Intervening in an already-in-progress shoot is a pretty delicate proposition, the other guy will be all sorts of jumped up on adrenaline, and you don’t know the circumstances behind what is happening. That said, I absolutely feel a duty to respond.

  5. Why in heaven’s name wouldn’t you intervene?

    Even if you don’t know who is right or wrong, you step up to the situation (figuratively, stay behind cover if you are able) and make it clear that no one else will be shooting anyone especially not the guy already down unless someone makes a threatening move. Then you let them decide how to behave.

    If the guy with the gun is a good guy he will agree to wait. If he tries to shoot again, without a threat, then you shoot him.

    Those of you saying you would do nothing sicken me. Why do you have a gun? What kind of men are you?

    • +1 Skyler. I made my mind up long ago that if I’m in a situation like that I will act and act swiftly. I believe it’s important to make your mind up before you find yourself in the middle of a shit storm (the whole ahead of the curve thing). It may make all the difference. I believe it did for me just a few months ago when I stopped a mugging. I didn’t have to pull my pistol but I was ready and the scumbag knew it.

    • I’ve spoken with our new web guy (a.k.a., the Director of Happiness). He reckons migration misegos means it will be “early” next week before we sort it out. Thanks for your support and patronage.

  6. Let’s turn the tables. You were in a situation where you had to draw down on someone and they are now pleading with you on the ground. In comes someone else who has drawn on you. My first instinct is that this could be his friend. This 3rd party pointing a gun at me now becomes the immediate and much greater threat than someone on the ground.

    I call the police and be a good witness unless I know the person or I am seeing a crime in progress where by law I can intercede with deadly force if necessary.

    • This underscores my earlier comment. Unless you see the entire event unfold and it is crystal clear who the bad guy is, you should be a good witness.

      In your scenario a violent criminal who was willing to do great bodily harm or murder just attacked and you defended yourself. Now he’s laying on the ground screaming for help. His equally violent friend shows up and draws on you. (I say equally violent because he is armed, knows his friend is a criminal committing a crime, and draws his gun on you.) Do you really think the criminal’s friend who is also a violent armed criminal is going to trust you not to shoot his friend and extend to you the courtesy of telling you to drop your gun? Probably not but anything is possible.

  7. I do not know what I would do. It partially depends what the laws are in the state that the event occurred in. A person intervening takes on the responsibility and gamble not to make the unknown situation worse and not to side with the bad person. What if they are both bad guys? I know that I do not want to risk my liberty and loss of assets being too idealistic. I also do not want to risk getting shot in what might have been a case of one street-stupid idiot who antagonized an over-reactive nut-case.

    Again, I call upon the publishers of this site to post Ralph’s cell phone number so we all have access to discuss the legal and moral right course of action.

    • I call upon the publishers of this site to post Ralph’s cell phone number

      You want intervention? I’ll show you intervention. I got your intervention right here. 🙂

  8. This is one of those great questions which I truly believe separates gun owners. Some carry for their own protection, others carry for the bettering of society. I personally would intervene, because I am not about just saving myself, but others too. I guess to a lot of people this argument is also circumstantial. Almost everyone would save the 8 year old girl, but not everyone would save the 40 year old man. Just a little more depth for ya.

  9. I’m not sure, depends on how I felt at the moment, if I had my kids with me or my wife, most likely I would have but if I had my children then no.

  10. Those of us that carry concealed act as Sheep Dogs to keep the Wolves at bay. Intervening would have been the right/moral thing to do.

  11. Intervene in what? A bad guy killing a good guy? A plainchothes cop apprehending a serial killer? Two bad guys fighting it out over control of drug territory? I certainly hope that the two people involved are wearing signs so I know which one to shoot.

    Every situation is different, but I carry a gun to protect me and mine. Period. In this scenario, I’m carrying a cell phone to protect the guy who’s about to get popped. If some keyboard commando wants to plays half-assed amateur cop, all I can say is, have fun in prison, tough guy.

    • I’m with Ralph on this, because you could have 100 different scenarios going on here. I’d call 911 because if the guy with the gun is an undercover cop or the good guy defending himself, I’d really be screwed. Unless you know for sure that the person who’d been shot is the innocent victim, you’re better off letting the cops deal with the shooter.

    • I’m with Ralph here.

      There are simply too many “unknown unknowns” in this situation.

      Call 911? Sure. Take pictures? Sure. Write down what I see/saw? Sure.

      Insert myself into the middle of a situation about which I know very little, where a gun is already out and in use? Yea, I think I’m going to give that a miss.

      Consider what the law-abiding gentleman who intervened now has to contend with. His name is out in the press. The perp, who might be a member of a gang, now knows exactly who faced him down in the parking lot, thanks to the wonderful reporting powers of liberal arts majors who attended J-school.

      Even if the hero has taken pains to make himself more difficult to find in online databases, if the perp is a member of a gang, it won’t be two days before the gang has used their accomplices in the DMV or law enforcement to learn the hero’s home address.

      But let’s say that the situation is actually abundantly clear upon even cursory examination. Folks might want to think REAL hard before involving themselves… because there’s a huge pack of drooling idiots in society now that exist merely to make the life of those who would do the right thing a living hell, including (in no particular order): the press and their need to fill up space and sell ads, lawyers who don’t have enough ambulances to chase, cops/LEO’s who might be embarrassed by their incompetence, social workers looking for something to do, bloggers, social activists, “community organizers” and race-baiting poverty pimps of all stripes.

      If I’m pulling my heater, it’s because someone has decided to come after me or a member of my tribe. Outsiders? Sorry, you’re not worth the impending hassle.

    • Exactly the right answer. In the world I would like to see there would be several other CCW holders in any semi-populated, public area. One of the scenarios that the grabbers are so terrified of is a situation like that where three or four other CCW holders draw and start blasting. Me too. Depending on the definition of “intervene” my answer would be no. You can’t talk about what is the morally right course of action without knowing all the details.

  12. For what it’s worth, I would intervene. Ideally I would draw and instruct both parties to stop/stand down. In the best case both parties would comply and it would then become a matter of calling and waiting for the police to come sort it out. Shooting would be the last option.

    I’m a very quote oriented guy so I’ll give you a few:
    “With great power comes great responsibility”
    “All that must occur for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing”

    In my book if you could, without entering into unreasonable danger yourself, prevent an unnecessary death (even of a criminal), you are morally obligated to do so.

    Even in the worst case it would be the wisest option: If the criminal is the armed one then he would turn on you (not good) and the victim would have an opportunity to escape (good). If the criminal is on the ground then he would be unlikely to be drawing a weapon as he would have had to do that for the good guy to have shot him in the first place. Even if he was you have given the good guy backup.

    The bottom line is no one one should be ‘going for the kill shot’ once the other man is down and you may have stopped a good guy from making a very bad decision.

    • I think I would draw, but try to keep my pistol hidden (behind a car or some other cover/concealment). I would yell, “Stop. Don’t shoot.” Hopefully this will keep him from pulling the trigger. Then in a calmer voice, I would say, “He’s down. He’s not a threat anymore.”

      I think the shooter has so much adrenaline that he has temporarily lost control. He needs someone to stop him from making a terrible mistake. If the shooter turns his gun in my direction, then I shoot him. (Then I am defending myself.) Since my gun is drawn, I can fire before he can turn and fire.

      It’s also possible the shooter is the bad guy. I can’t tell from what I have seen. Either way (shooter is a good guy or a bad guy), my response works.

  13. George Zimmerman intervened in a situation he already knew something about; a suspicious person to him walking in his neighborhood. GM is now facing prison, loss of financial assets, and a lifetime of stress even if he gets acquitted because he overplayed hero.

    • Not that I disagree with your final assessment, but that’s a gross over-simplification.

      There’s a difference between following a mysterious nighttime wanderer who appears to have POSSIBLE criminal intent, and ending up in a physical altercation necessitating the use of lethal force to stop a lethal assault, and intervening when a gunman appears to be preparing to perform a coup de grâce on an already wounded person in public and in broad daylight. One is a muddied pond of circumstances, the other is generally more clear cut, given the presence of a lethal threat BEFORE intervention.

      Legally speaking, the latter case is arguably easier to stand behind as a legal use of force: if he was prepared to kill his victim in public in broad daylight, what would stop him from killing witnesses next?

      Not that I’m advocating intervention regardless of circumstances, but there are plenty of places I go on a regular basis where there is little or no access to cover. If I happen to find myself in such a situation, I intend to take such action as I judge will result in the greatest chances for my IMMEDIATE survival. As such, if I find myself without cover or concealment, and no reliable means of retreat, I am more likely to intervene, especially if I happened to witness the entirety of the event. On the other hand, if I have good cover and a safe escape route, I am much more likely to take advantage of it.

      I don’t carry a firearm to protect the public; I carry a firearm to ensure my survival; If I judge my survival to be in jeopardy I have no compunctions about using lethal force to protect my own life.

  14. What is morally right isn’t necessarily going to be supported by law, and living in the real world, unfortunately, we have to take that into account. In addition, I wasn’t there. If I could determine the totality of the situation, if I could act without putting people I care for in danger, if I could actually do something useful, then I would intervene. The good citizen here did the right thing, and it turned out to be the legal thing as well, and it came to a good end. But he had the information that he needed and the opportunity.

  15. The anti’s floated a lot of test balloons after the Giffords (God bless her) shooting. They didn’t see an appreciable shift in opinion on an AWB. The same thing happened when the administration took office and immediately began talking about the “Iron River” into Mexico *GASP*. They will keep testing the water, and throwing stuff at the wall to see if something sticks. If it doesn’t, and trends indicate they won’t, expect more of the same.
    If they got any indication of an anti argument gaining traction, however, don’t kid yourself that a lifelong gun-banner like Obama has “come to Jesus” on the 2nd Amendment, and would do anything to protect gun rights.
    Inaction does NOT equal assent of approval.
    I do hope that trends continue, and gun control continues to fall off of the DNC core issues list…..I’m just going to need a bit more convincing.

  16. The article is not terribly well-written, so the chronology is a little confusing. To me, it sounds like things had defused somewhat if the alleged attacker was calm enough to be showing off his concealed pistol license and Andrew S. felt safe enough to turn away for a moment. Re: the showing of his license, I wonder if the alleged attacker picked up some strange ideas from recent media accounts and thought a CPL was his get-out-of-jail-free card….

  17. If I had a gun…maybe…depends upon the circumstances. If I were there with my wife and kids, NO. If I were there by myself, probably.

    • In my case, it depends not only on those with me, but on the surroundings. If I’m alone, or with minors/elderly, and I have ready means of safe escape, I am likely to take advantage thereof.

      However, if I’m with other proficient gun owners, or I have no ready means of safe escape, then I am much more likely to be confrontational.

      How much I saw preceding the first volley of gunfire also plays into it, as does my immediate threat assessment of the active shooter and his target.

      In short, intervention is a complicated matter depending on a LARGE number of factors, and cannot be reduced to a simple yes or no.

  18. Isn’t it fantastic that armed citizens have a choice? They can decide what to do or not to do based on several considerations such as the specifics of any given event, personal values, experience, etc.

    If the gun grabbers had their way, they would force everyone to do what lines up with the gun grabbers’ values, judgment, and experience.

  19. You CAN’T intervene!!! You are armed for SELF-defense (you and your family/friends). Anything more is VIGILANTISM! You are not a hero, you are not a cop, you are at most eyes and ears for cops.

    • Many states have “Good Samaritan” clauses along with their SYG laws. In those states, you most definitely can intervene and afford all the protections of SYG.

      • I don’t know anything about Good Samaritan clauses. But I do know that I have my own prejudices (not racial, I’m not racist, all humans irritate me) about what bad guys and good guys look like from life experience. There’s no way I’d be willing to wager other people’s lives or my own based on looks. And looks is the only indicator available to you when you happen upon a scene like the one above. I imagine the Good Samaritan clauses would cover you for things blatantly obvious like walking up on a rape for instance, otherwise there are too many unknowns to make a informed decision with lives in the balance.

      • Also, there is the argument that if an aggressor is willing to execute his target in plain view of the public that he presents himself as an immediate lethal threat to any witness present.

        Thus, as I said above, my contention that my inclination to intervene is based heavily on who I am with, and whether or not I deem it safe to retreat.

  20. An emphatic no.

    It’s been pretty well established that we don’t know for sure which actors are in play. Dialing 911 out of earshot makes the most sense. What if someone else rang the the po-po first? Deputy Gungho might(will) have you in his sights. You have the potential of getting caught between to hostile forces. Comforting.

    • Alright, say such a situation occurs while you’re eating at a restaurant (alone or with other armed friends), the gunman is between you and your only means of escape, and there is nothing to use as cover between you and the gunman. What do you do when the gunman appears ready to perform a coup de grâce on his target?

      Do you judge such an event to realistically have the potential for the gunman to start executing witnesses next?

      This question of the day is flawed, because it is much too general to permit a definitive answer.

  21. Mine was the first reply to this thread. I read through all the comments.
    My answer is still “Yes”.

  22. NO!

    Here’s why.
    My burden of action is a direct threat to myself. There’s no mistaking the context of a guy or gal threatening to kill ME , either directly or in the course of attacking everyone else in my general area. If Im sitting down at Denny’s and some scumbag walks in with a piece and blows away the clerk, a waiter, and says everyone in the store is a dead mother***r, “time to go to work”.

    IF I come across a guy standing over someone else with a gun at random, ill dial 911 and pass on a description of the players. Not only could one of the parties-OR BOTH OF THEM-be cops or an attacked citizen, but this situation does not meet the standard of a personal threat. My life is not in danger in this situation:unless I charge in Hawaii Five-Oh style gun blazing to take out the “bad guy”, only to get dropped by his accomplice or backup…or shot by law enforcement….or taken out by the guy on the ground because that was his family I just killed.

    Note that just because someone has police credentials does not mean I’m not going to take steps to defend myself-the Norway shooter/bomber had fake police credentials when he went on his rampage,so if I see an “FBI Agent” go kill crazy like in the Denny’s example Im not just going to stand there and let myself be killed.

    It is easy to forget that after a shots fired incident , the consequences go beyond the legal system. A gunfight isn’t a light thing to consider:you can be maimed, disabled, paralyzed or obviously killed outright playing hero, ON TOP of losing your estate or freedom in a biased court case after the fact assuming you did survive. Its one thing to risk all that when someone kicks in your door at 2am, because someone else made the call for you. Its another level of stupidity to willingly risk being killed or permanently disabled charging into a situation with no intel,no background, and no mandate except to nebulously try to “improve society”. I do not know about you guys but that is not my job.

    • YES: Here is why.
      I am defined by my actions. To stand by and watch someone get murdered does not define me. I have weighed the risks. The risk to be being sued, injured, killed, or arrested does not outweigh the consequences of what I would have become.

      • The problem is how do you know?

        How do you know the standing man with a gun isn’t the defender?

        How do you know if he’s covering the downed threat until help arrives or is about to execute the man on the ground?

        How do you know he’s in the right even if he is the defender?

        The possibilities if you shoot:
        You become a Murderer or
        You become a Hero

        If you don’t shoot:
        You become a good witness to keep a good person from prison or
        You become a good witness to send a bad person to prison.
        and
        You can always shoot later, if something makes it absolutely clear what’s happening.

        • You made an assumption that I would shoot first and ask questions later. I think you overlooked the original question. It was “Would you have intervened”. It was not would I take the head shot. No one asked the all important “how”.

        • This is what I tried to say several feet above (in the comments thread above).

          The purpose of the intervention is to stop the shooter from taking another shot, because it is obvious the guy on the ground is not a threat anymore. There are several ways to do that, which do not require killing the shooter. Yelling something like, “Stop. Don’t shoot” should stop a good guy shooter from making a terrible mistake, and it should warn a bad guy shooter that there are deadly consequences to his next action. If the shooter then turns his gun in my direction, then I shoot him before he can get turned and aimed at me.

          If you haven’t trained yourself such that you can hit center mass everytime, then don’t intervene, because there is a good chance you could be shot and killed before your bad shooting stops the other guy.

  23. This is a great discussion to have, I think looking at news events involving deadly force and kind of “wargaming” how you would react is a good idea.

    Personally, in this case If I were carrying a gun (something I don’t do in my homestate because i’m not yet 21, when I’m visiting neighboring states where open carry is legal at 18 I do carry a firearm in those states) and came upon this scenario I would call 911 and be a good witness, even if the guy on the ground gets executed, that’s not my problem unless he decides he doesn’t want witnesses around. The court system would already be skeptical of a 19 year old college student openly carrying his piece in public enough to where if it turned out I shot/drew down on the good guy I’d be highly likely to face prosecution. now if I came out of a building and say the guy on the ground was in some sort of uniform (police, security, etc) and the shooter was walking over I may be more inclined to act to prevent a kill shot because it would be easier to articulate in court why I felt the man with the gun was the aggressor. Let’s face it, you need the right tools for the job, and different jobs require different tools. me+family/friends=firearm everybody else=911

  24. Sure, get in the middle of somebody elses BS, possibly get arrested, definitely gonna get sued, yeah sure you betcha. Unless you are directly involved you should get to cover and just defend yourself.

    • Nope. Disagree completely. So if you are in trouble I will help you. If I am in trouble, I can expect you to record everything on your video phone.
      I get sued, I get sued. I get arrested – so be it. I am killed or injured is expected.
      I stand by and watch someone else get murdered because I don’t want to get involved does not define me.

  25. I’ll only intervene if it’s a woman, child, friend or family member that’s about to buy the farm.

  26. I probably would have. And probably what I would have done, given the dark situation would be to present myself as an armed off duty police officer. So as to make certain the any weapon that could be used against me, would be dropped. Just a theory, but I think it would work.

    And I think the REASON that I would have done so, is more because, I can’t fucking stand people that make shit like this their LIVES! It happened, it may or may not have sucked… move on! It wouldn’t bother me as much if the majority of people that care so much about this, weren’t just issue jumping retards that buy everything that Fox news sells. They just jump on any and every news story they can to further vaunt their Care wagon to the neighbors, or their stupid friends.

    I would intervene, just to stop the “I care about the moment, but not really the big picture” train from rolling out of the station, yet again!

  27. I would, given what state I’m in. Alot of states are sketchy about the “Stand your ground” thing… people that were well within their legal right to defend themselves with deadly force, have refrained from using such force, and had their weapons taken away (sometimes for good), and worse in some states. My state, is one of those states that basically says “If I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen”, so I would feel more than comfortable defending someone I don’t know with my firearm there. When I carry in other states however, I would most likely use restrained force, or even warnings, if I indeed felt compelled to intervene at all.

    • Things shouldn’t be like that… I believe 100% that what is true for one state should be true for all. I firmly believe that every person whom legally and consciously chooses to take on the duty, and responsibility of guarding the public from harm with a firearm should have the same rights and laws in ALL states. I really believe that ALL states should abide by the Castle Doctrine, and no distinction between open or concealed carry like my state does.

  28. Based on the incomplete information in this post, no. Intervening in an active situation like that when all you know is that someone has shot someone else would be stupid. Besides which, seeing someone with a gun and not knowing why they were shooting would put me in full defensive mode; in that situation, you only “intervene” if that gun gets pointed toward you before you can get out of danger.

    Now that I’ve read the full article in the Yakima Herald, I say yes. Absolutely intervene. At least, I hope I’d have the guts to intervene if I’d just seen someone draw and shoot an unarmed and (apparently) innocent man.

    It’s a sad commentary on our society when so many people say they’d never intervene in any circumstance. We all are responsible for helping other people when we can. It’s also a sad commentary on our society when doing the right thing means a truckload of legal trouble could be headed your way.

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