It Should Have Been A Defensive Gun Use: San Bernardino Gas Station Edition

“John Faust had stopped at a San Bernardino gas station in the early morning hours of June 24 when he was suddenly approached by two male robbers armed with guns,” ktla.com reports. “One of the robbers said, ‘Give me your wallet,’ according to Faust, and then punched the 78-year-old great-grandfather in the face. ‘The next thing I knew, I was lying on the ground,’ Faust said.” Yes. Yes he was. The remarkably clear surveillance video that reveals the severity of the punch. In fact, the attack could have killed Mr. Faust. There are a few lessons to be learned here . . .

1. Gas stations are not a great place to be “in the early morning hours” – Where else can a robber rob at o’ dark? Equally, late night gas stations are easy-in, easy-out; usually positioned at crossroads. They’re excellent for quick getaways.

2. Gas stations offer excellent visibility and security – for the bad guys – Gas station thieves can see cops coming from a long way off. They can loiter or hide without seeming suspicious. They can plan their attack, wait for the right moment and then strike. Not to mention the fact that they can pin good guys in, as they did here.

3. Crank-up your situational awareness to 10 at a gas station – If you don’t see the bad guys coming and they get as close as these perps did to Mr. Faust, you are WAY behind the eight-ball (a.k.a., OODA loop).

4. Have a plan – be ready to forget the fill, flee your car, run around your car (putting it between you and the perps) and/or draw your gun to defend yourself. Do NOT let the bad guys get within bad breath distance, assuming compliance will save your proverbial bacon.

5. Carry a gun. Always.

[h/t DrVino]

comments

  1. avatar IthinkIhaveaProblem says:

    I am at home it is 1915 4th of July, and I have a gun on my hip. Late night at a gas station I will have it out and ready!

    1. avatar John F says:

      It was 1962 I was stationed at Ft Bragg NC, 82nd Airborne, I was in a parking lot for a convenience store. A prerp came up to my car with a Baseball Bat and said
      “You pull away and I gona smash you window”
      I reached under my drivers seat and pulled my 22 Colt Challenger, as it came up to the side window, I racked the slide.
      Perp than said as walking away, ” I just kiddin man”

  2. avatar NYC2AZ says:

    I had a teenager try to walk (sneak?) up to me at a gas station about a year ago (after dark). I looked right at him when he was about 20 feet out. He froze and asked if I “had change for the bus.” I glanced back and saw another young man start to veer away from the back of my truck. I said “no” to the first kid and then I watched as they both walked away in different directions. I have no idea what the whole thing was all about, but my ‘oh-shit-o-meter’ went into high gear when that first kid froze in his tracks. Even so, I have no evidence if I actually averted a robbery by keeping my head on a swivel.

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      Sounds like you caught them mid stroke, which is usually the best way to stop a mugging.

      1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

        I’ve been caught mid stroke. Not fun.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Next time, remember to keep looking around. There could have been a third or even a fourth converging from all sides.

      1. avatar Rusty Shackleford says:

        Massad Ayoob had a good article in the January 2014 issue of Handguns magazine about awareness when you are out and about. It had some good info on facing out (towards the pump) and keeping your head on a swivel when filling your gas tank. It also showed the proper way to load up your groceries/supplies in the back of your automobile and even how to negotiate your way around a rest stop /public bathroom, no pun intended.

  3. avatar S.CROCK says:

    I had a situation where I was at public tennis courts and two very crepy guys approached me. My situational awareness was up and saw them coming from a good distance away. I was very much unarmed and somewhat (not totally) trapped by surrounding fences and nets. For some reason I didn’t react correctly. I don’t know what the correct respond would have been but it sure wasn’t my reaction. I let them get about 10 yards from me and they said they worked there and needed to clean the courts. I was obviously in no danger and felt so relieved to hear them say that. I saw them from about 50 yards away and did nothing because I didn’t know what they were doing. There was enough time for me to imagine a robbery going down.

    How should I have reacted???

    1. avatar Vhyrus says:

      I would have gotten out of the courts before they got there so they could not have blocked me in. Other than that, not much you can do without some kind of ranged weapon.

      1. avatar S.CROCK says:

        They were already on the courts (a different court) but still it was basically by the time I saw them I was already trapped.

        1. avatar Bob says:

          A tennis racket makes a damn good weapon for beating the ____ out of a would be robber. A hard hit with the edge of the racket to his face or throat could kill. It probably won’t be a good tennis racket after you’re finished with him/them, but … you can always buy another racket.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      I was at public tennis courts. . . . How should I have reacted???

      You should have served to their backhand and charged the net.

    3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      S.Crock,

      Keep a handgun in a good (snug) holster in an athletic bag and keep that courtside. If you see anyone approaching who isn’t obviously there to play tennis, promptly walk over to your athletic bag, reach inside it, unholster your handgun, and have it ready in hand in case you need it. Of course keep your handgun in your bag so it looks like you were checking your phone or something. Remember, you can always shoot through your bag if necessary.

      If he/she/they keep approaching, issue them a verbal challenge … maybe something like “Whoa guys, back off!”

      Before any of that happens, though, you should have surveyed the area and had a sense of where you can exit the “cage” so you don’t have to think about that with everything else going on.

    4. avatar jon says:

      It’s a free country, people are free to walk around. Until they act in a threatening way, you don’t do anything – you don’t respond with force, you don’t threaten them, you don’t panic – you simply remain calm and go about what you were doing while remaining aware of the people around you.

      I sometimes go walking at night. I was once going to the laundromat at around midnight or one o’clock when someone started walking down the sidewalk to their apartment. I had a right to be there. This lady didn’t know why I was there, she just saw me, at night, in the dark, walking down the sidewalk towards her.
      Now imagine: what would have happened if she saw me as a threat and had a gun? She could have overreacted, panicked, and drawn a gun on me. I don’t want to get shot because some stupid woman overreacts! The last thing we need is more hysterical women.

  4. avatar Vhyrus says:

    Even if he had a gun he was so far behind the curve it wouldn’t have helped him one bit and might have gotten him shot in that situation. Having a gun means dick if the first sign of trouble you see is a gun barrel up your nose.

    1. avatar BlueBronco says:

      Well, getting cold cocked and knocked down was risky, though. People get seriously injured and killed from that stuff. Plus, there is no guarantee they want shoot you anyway. That happens as well. There is no such thing as a safe interaction with criminal thugs.

  5. avatar Sabrewolfe says:

    Stuff like this is a big part of why I try very hard never to let my gas tank go below half. Any place that favors hit-and-run or ambush tactics leave me a little paranoid and gas stations, as noted here, are one of the worst for that. Better to lose a little sleep and get up early to fill the tank tomorrow than have to be stuck outside a shut-off vehicle after dark.

    1. avatar Jonathan -- Houston says:

      Same here. In whatever endeavor, you always want to preserve options whenever possible. A near empty gas tank forces your to accept scenarios that may not be to your advantage, such as refilling under sketchy circumstances.

      We always refuel at the local Costco. It’s convenient to stop by midday. It’s set way back from the road and not even visible from the streets for being blocked by Lowe’s and Costco itself. . Most people don’t know it’s even there. There’s nothing immediately around it but wide open parking lot with no places to hide.

      It’s members-only, with a card required to activate the pumps, and there’s an attendant posted. So anyone just lingering around would stick out and one of the two cops at the front of the store would be summoned to investigate. It’s a really criminal-unfriendly location.

      1. avatar Clay says:

        I know that exact Costco you’re talking about. Over by the Bunker Hill area.

    2. avatar John says:

      I’m the same way. I always try to fill it before I get to half a tank. When I do fill it up, I get the hose in, then get the heck away from the pump so I can see what’s going on around me. I don’t like having things blocking my field of vision and those pumps are tall and can keep you from seeing what’s coming for you. I usually go to the back of my car and start the “scan” and looking for things out of the ordinary, even it it’s people not coming for me, but going for someone else. I also go to the same station to fill up most times. I get my coffee there in the morning, so the people kind of know me there.

      1. avatar racer88 says:

        Yep…. I lock the nozzle “on” and stand at the back of my car. I get very annoyed if the nozzle lock is broken or missing, forcing me to hold it. In that case, I turn my back to my car and hold the nozzle “backwards.” Always scanning.

  6. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

    I do the Dave Spaulding “Prepared, Not Paranoid” thing pretty much all the time. Situational awareness, just keeping eyes and ears open. And it’s stunning when you really start to pay attention to some things:

    1) Pretty much every other person around you is totally in his or her own bubble. We all talk about how people are unaware of their surroundings – it’s startling when you take the time to see just how unaware they are.

    2) People get very uncomfortable when you DON’T look at your feet and ignore them. Look up, face toward people a little – wigs ’em out a bit. I see this at the gas station. Not staring at the nozzle, not staring at a cell phone, but turning to face away from the car a little bit, seeing people around you – they just don’t know what to make of it. Oh well. More’s the pity for them.

    I grew up smiling and saying hello to people you passed on the sidewalk. Not to do so would be rude. But now – they assume you’re a serial killer. And that’s a sad commentary on society.

    1. avatar Del says:

      I face the car using windows as mirrors as I have a large Honda van, locked as soon as I exit. I can see behind me and in front of me through the other side of the windows. Keep watchful eyes to the sides. My 9mm firearm is in my pocket. I don’t want a problem, but have been schooled on being prepared for self defense.

  7. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    This type of crime is the one that tips me over the anger cliff.
    Beating an old man for a few dollars.
    It’s really too bad there aren’t two air temperature perps at the end of the video.

  8. avatar Scrubula says:

    So we can learn two things. Be aware of your surroundings, and go inside the station while your car fills up at night! Being armed would have helped if he saw them, but they won’t break into an empty car if they know the owner is near by and unseen.

  9. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    I’m seriously PO’d watching this. No the old guy had zero situational awareness. He even left his door open making a possible carjacking easier. I don’t bother being friendly at a gas station. I’ve had creeps approach me at times in questionable neighborhoods. I also don’t roll my window down to hand people $ when I am stopped. You learn this stuff when you live in Chicago and now in a town south of the city. Stay safe people. As I type this my Neighborhood sounds like a freaking WAR ZONE. It sounds like a firefight outside…perfect weather for the lunatics. Happy 4th!

  10. avatar Excedrine says:

    Proof positive that gun control advocates openly support, endorse, protect, and practice ageism.

    You can add that to the list of: sexism, racism, and antisemitism.

    To all practicable degrees.

    In all conceivable forms.

    In all imaginable places.

    At all times.

    With no exceptions.

  11. avatar Jonathan -- Houston says:

    “Carry a gun. Always.”

    I agree. Carrying a self-defense firearm is both the cause and consequence of the other tips which the article mentions. You carry a sidearm, you realize the risks that are out there. You realize the risks that are out there, well, you’re going to want to carry a sidearm to deal with the worst of them, if necessary.

    Often the most potent benefit to carrying a self-defense firearm is that heightened sense of situational awareness. Anti’s call it being paranoid and living in fear. I call it being prepared and living alert.

    It doesn’t always have to come down to a “Do you feel lucky, PUNK? Well, DO ya?!” moment. It’s often enough that the bad guys are aware that you’re aware, and so they ask that question of themselves and answer in the negative, without ever initiating an attack.

  12. avatar tdiinva says:

    During the the time of the DC sniper killings gas stations were considered a prime target. I always the side of the pump away from the street and used the care or the pump for cover. By the end of it I had a loaded rifle in the back seat more as security blanket than anything else. The incident would have been over before I got to the gun. I don’t know how safe these precautions made me. My office mate was shot at a local Home Depot that looked like covered position. It wasn’t.

  13. avatar BlueBronco says:

    Those robbery thugs look like a couple of “undocumented” Democrats.

  14. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    As I commented to NYC2AZ, keep looking around in all directions even if someone is approaching. They could have multiple accomplices closing in on all sides.

    I recently had someone hail me in a parking lot of a strip mall. He was a good 30 yards away when he first waved at me and said something. I immediately noticed another person 20 feet to his right and walking parallel to him. After 1/2 second to scan both men approaching me, I quickly glanced to my right, looked back to both men, quickly glanced left, looked back to both men, quickly glanced behind me, and then back to both men.

    Nothing ever came of it — the person turned out to be a clever panhandler. Nevertheless, the entire time he talked to me, I watched his hands and kept making quick glances in all directions. And I made sure that he stayed some distance away.

    This actually takes practice. You will suck at it the first time. Each time something happens, you will get better. This panhandler was my fourth approach of unknown people with unknown intentions in an unusual location. The first three times someone approached me, I had not managed to survey all 360 degrees around me.

  15. avatar Bob D Calif says:

    Aside from situational awareness, I always keep my hand on the fill nozzle. I would not hesitate to spray them down. I can think of a few followup moves too. Got a light?

    1. avatar Amok! says:

      Would not have worked in the video. Gun and flanked.

  16. avatar Mark C says:

    Defensive gun use? In California? They’d probably charge the grandpa with assault with a deadly weapon or manslaughter. California has four types of people: victims, criminals, politicians, and guards. Whether the guards defend the politicians or the victims is up to the guard. But they’ll only do it if paid. A victim defending themselves is just another criminal in Cali.

  17. avatar Daily Beatings says:

    It’s simple, don’t carry cash in your wallet since credit cards can be canceled pretty quickly. When they demand to hand it over throw the wallet on the ground 5-10 feet away from you. Like a cat to a laser pointer they’re going to ignore you and go for the shiny object. Gives you time to draw or flee the vicinity.

  18. avatar Pashtun6 says:

    Yeah no guns on me tonight. My 220 is into office desk drawer, but tonight the only defensive options I had were my Emerson Horseman.

  19. avatar Greg in Cali says:

    or just buy a Tesla and don’t go to gas stations 😉

  20. avatar Gunr says:

    “Lessons to be learned” First, #5 is an improbability. The poor guy lives in Kalifornia, Fat chance of having a gun. Even if he had one in his truck, and not on him, he probably would not be able to get to it.
    Second: Number 6 should be, “Get the F*** out of Kalifornia.

  21. avatar mb says:

    The wife and I wanted to watch a movie late in the evening so I headed out to a nearby Redbox to rent a DVD. Of course, I took my pistol to keep my company. Boy am I glad I did. I had looked up the address online and when I pulled up to the kiosk, I noticed that it was located at an after-hours Walgreens. The premises was completely deserted and they had shut off most of their lights. The place looked like a perfect location for some thugs to lie in wait for an unsuspecting victim. Throughout the time I was away from my car, I was constantly scanning my surroundings. I thought I was being paranoid at the time but watching the video of this poor man has reminded me that you can never be too careful.

    I wonder though, how could a firearm have been of much help by the time the bad guys closed in on him? I understand that situational awareness would have most likely prevented this outcome or at least lessened the damage. However, with that out the window, is there any viable course of action a person could take in a situation like this? I’ve given it a lot of thought and nothing comes to mind. Every scenario I consider seems more risky than just giving up the wallet and praying for the best. I may be wrong though. Perhaps those of you out there who are more tactically inclined can provide some input.

  22. avatar racer88 says:

    Also been there, done that. My experience was in broad daylight at a gas station.

    I was fueling up on the inside (facing the store) of the “outboard” gas pump ( two pumps away from the store). A car pulled up in front of the store, but parked askew (so it can leave by pulling forward instead having to back up first). The driver stayed in the car, but the passenger got out. Instead of going into the store, the dude walked towards me.

    We locked eyes. I assumed an “assertive posture” (aka “do NOT **** with me”) at the back of my car (not trapped between car and pump). Body language works! He realized that I’m watching him and said, “Hey man… you got a quarter?” (Why he would ask for such a small amount, I don’t know.) Using a “command voice,” and raising my hand, palm out (stop), I loudly said, “NO.” It stopped the dude in his tracks. Without saying another word, he went back to the car, and they drove away.

    An older man was fueling up at the pump closer to the store. He walked over to me and said, “Those boys were up to no good.” Yep. They sure were.

    I’ve been approached at gas stations more times than I can count. Most are harmless beggars. But, I don’t let ANY of them get “in my space.” My SA is always on high alert at gas stations, day or night. Here in Florida, the warm weather attracts all kinds, and it’s always mugging season.

  23. avatar Mk10108 says:

    Once again our elected representatives in the Golden State allow a disarmed population to be robbed, raped and murdered. The logic that criminals will abide by laws and therefore disarm law abiding citizens is the answer to violence, remains the single, most ludicrous cranial infection the among the breathing electorate can muster.

  24. avatar Amok! says:

    I wish I had been fueling up at the same time as that elderly gentleman.

  25. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    The guy in the video said, “next time the criminals are going to pick on someone younger and more coordinated and they’re gonna get it.”

    No they won’t. He was targeted for being older and slower. That’s their MO. BGs aren’t looking for a fair fight throw-down.

  26. avatar ThomasR says:

    Yep; ROHC, predators look for the helpless, the weak, the old and the defenseless. It’s what all predators look for, the two legged as well as the four.

  27. avatar cmeat says:

    i dislike autos with fuel fillers on the passenger side. my squareback was like that. some chrysler products too. and all those gm’s with the neck under the rear plate. i’d rather be by the drivers door, car running. if the ol’ ladies with me we argue about that last part. i always lose and she turns the car off.
    i’d make an exception for an old charger with the cap on the rear deck.
    last night ol’ appalachian al was loitering at the amoco at irving and western. we’ve been on 16hr shifts for storm duty and i was about to hit reserve so i needed a quick gallon so’s i could make it back by 06:00. he got the ol’ stinkeye from me at first approach for a cigarette. the urine stench and b.o. were substantial.
    i slid a fiver under the bullet proof glass and the sportive enthusiast suggested “premium?” round two with al was “can i ask you a question?” i replied “you just did.” he continued, only slightly phased, with “where the ‘f’ am i?” followed by “can you give me a ride on the back?”
    sheesh. soon he was stumbling to the bus stop.
    no arms were drawn. but it could have been sketchy.
    snuck that in there.
    and the ride home was supplemented with full on mortar accompaniment, both sides and especially in the larger parks. distractions all.

  28. avatar Lfshtr says:

    A lot of these chicken shits depend on sneeking up on a person and or bulling innocent people. Draw the weapon and the pee will start running out of them. Also remember if you draw, then you shoot, you will most likely go to jail on the pull, don’t say a lot and wait for your attorney. The more we stand for our rights the less they they will try to take these rights! And always watch you backside.

  29. avatar GS650G says:

    Two punks asked me for the bag in the rear of my hatchback while I was filling my car. I removed the gas nozzle and pointed it at them and told them they needed to get lost. They looked at that nozzle and beat feat to a safe distance where they shot me the bird and called me names.
    But they didn’t get my knapsack now did they?

  30. avatar Kenneth says:

    I never let anybody get near me at a gas station. I always stop, face them directly, put up my hand and say NO very loudly so that anyone else in the area knows immediately that something is amiss. The approacher usually cannot get out of the area fast enough.

    If they keep coming, I turn my right side away from them, lift my shirt on the right side with the left hand and reach for my belt with the right hand. So far nobody has stuck around to see what was on my belt, if anything.

    There’s actually nothing on the belt but I keep a revolver in the front pocket.

  31. avatar john rogan says:

    surveillance cameras at the mega oil station…there to get the license plate of a gasoline thief…notice a hand appears in one frame…the attendant…his gesture indicates he knows trouble is approaching…but supposedly he did not see a thing….probably know exactly who those 17th street posse berdoo gangsters are…but does not want to end up dead……situational awareness….what a false sense of security…”maricone” and “marmalejo” and their getaway driver “loco” waiting off 215 and highland pulled off the perfect crime….laughing about it now in a drugged up frenzy….been using John Faust credit cards and cash…calls the white people gavachos!…stupido americanos!so trusting…so deluded!

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