By Brandon at concealednation.org

A former Marine successfully stopped an attempted invasion of his Hewitt, Texas home. But the execution was a little off. Eric Walters awoke around 1:45am Friday to someone knocking on his front door. Armed, he went to the front door and looked through the peep hole and saw a man on the other side . . .

…and against his better judgment, [he] opened the door.

As soon as Walters opened that door, another man came running around the corner armed with a gun. That’s when Walters, realizing that opening the door was a bad idea, slammed it shut and fired six rounds through the closed door.

The bad guys got away, and it is unknown if either were hit by gunfire.

Keep The Door Shut

While Walters was ultimately successful in stopping the attempted home invasion, it could have turned against him quickly. Once that front door is opened, your advantage decreases dramatically. What if the first guy at the door had pulled a gun and fired? Would Walters have had time to react? What if five guys came around the corner instead of just one?

Then, the act of firing through a door (or any other structure) is typically frowned upon. In this case, Walters seems to have had a clear view of what was happening in the moments before firing the shots, but it doesn’t change the fact that he was still shooting blindly.

Walters was protecting his wife and two children who were inside the home at the time of the incident, and while I certainly can’t fault him for taking the steps to defend them, he could have put them in more danger by opening the door.

How To Handle A Middle Of The Night Knock

Walters started off perfectly by arming himself before going to investigate. The last thing you want is to be down in front of your door, unarmed, and then be face-to-face with the bad guys after they break it down.

Finding out who is on the other side of the door is important, whether it’s via a peep hole, video surveillance or other method. At no point should you ever open the door for a middle-of-the-night knock. The smarter thing to do is to call police while staying inside your home. If the person happens to be an innocent stranded motorist, the police can sort it out when they arrive. Be sure to let the 911 operator know that you are armed, and where your location is inside the home. A description of what you’re wearing might not be a bad idea, either.

When All Bets Are Off

While you’re waiting inside your home for police to arrive, all bets are off if there is any attempt by the person(s) outside to breach your home. It’s easier to explain a deceased bad guy a foot inside your door than it is to explain a deceased bad guy half way down your driveway with bullet holes in his back.

Plus, you aren’t opening yourself up to any unknowns by opening that door. If you stay put, you maintain your tactical advantage and can react appropriately if someone tries to enter.

Seriously, keep the door shut.

As a rule of thumb, a knock at the door in the middle of the night is never a good thing.

Another rule of thumb, shooting through an object without a clear picture of what’s on the other side can have disastrous consequences.

79 Responses to How Not To Handle the 2AM Knock At Your Door

  1. Besides the chain holding my door, I’m thinking of having one at ankle height that pops up if the door opens without me disarming the mechanism. If a bad guy breaks down the door despite my chain, then, he’s going to get tripped.

    Could be fun to build . . . if the budget has any money after repairing the foundation under the back office.

  2. He fired 6 shots through the door? I wonder if he had a speed loader ready to re energize his 357?
    As bad as opening the door is, expending all your rounds might even be worse!

    • I wondered about that too. 6 shots huh? Probably a revolver. People tend to empty their guns when in a panic. If I get a knock at 2AM, the 15 shot Glock goes with me rather than my 5 shot EDC 642 (probably actually take both, and maybe the wife will have my back up Rossi .38 sp).

        • Sheesh, I get a knock at my door in the wee hours of the night, my wife’s go the AR covering me from teh top of the stairs giving her the perfect angle on the door without hitting me should someone try to break through while I investigate with my glock and EDC knife.

    • A kid in Montana was just acquitted of shooting his friend through a window at 0200. I don’t know what his friends were doing that he thought that was necessary. Maybe they were trying to scare him to be funny.

      • I compare that kid to Wafer. I don’t think Wafer is guilty of 2nd degree murder and I don’t think the kid is guilty of nothing. Perhaps criminally negligent homicide for both?

        I think the kid’s friends were tossing stones at his window.
        I always assumed they were trying to get his attention and have him sneak out the window for some parent-unapproved activities. But don’t kids arrange that with cell phones these days?

  3. A while back, I popped by unannounced at my (elderly) parents house a little after 10 PM (dark outside). I was there to drop something off, and know that they are late night owls and would still be up (and probably watching MLB on TV). I was curious to see if they would ask who was there or peek out the little side window next to the door (they don’t have a peephole). It was actually a bit of a test on my part, I’d usually at least call from my cell before I get to their house. To my irritation and concern, they just pop open the door without checking in any way. They aren’t gun people, and would be pretty helpless against home invaders. We need to talk about them being a little more careful.

    On the plus side, my dad recently mentioned to me that he had changed his mind about concealed carry after the Charleston church shooting. He has always been against people carrying, and knows that I and my BIL (sister’s husband) regularly CCW. He still doesn’t want to carry himself, but feels some comfort knowing that there are good people out there carrying. He asked one of his friends at church if he was carrying, and when his friend said he was, my dad told him that he was comforted by that.

    • When I used to go to the Y, a “Gun Free Zone” in my area, several of my former buddies indicated they felt safer knowing I had ignored the “NO WEAPONS” signs posted at the entries too.

      They wouldn’t violate the policy themselves but were happy I did.

      Most amerikans today are such good little sheep.

    • I’m not making the connection between peepholes and “bad guy bullets.”
      They can’t even tell you’re there looking at them, unless you speak up.

      • I’ve heard / seen the issue more re hotel room doors.

        The issue is not that the bad guy can see you through the peephole; but if there’s light on in the room behind, they can see when the peephole goes dark. That usually means someone is looking through the peephole, especially if the room lights are still on.

        • So maybe it would be a good policy to put some black duct tape over the inside of the peep hole and if there is a knock, turn off the lights before looking thru.

        • If I was awoken to a knock on my front door at 2am, I sure would not be turning on my lights inside the house. That makes it difficult at best to see outside (if you have porch lights), and gives away your location if any of your curtains aren’t fully closed.

          Now, if it was dark and 9pm, that’s a different story since lights are already on. Thankfully, the way our house is shaped, there is a window in a separate room that looks directly out to our front porch with near full visibility of the door that I would check first, before going to the door. No one would know I was checking out the area since that room is dark. If necessary, I could crack that window and speak to them from there. It is a good 10 steps from the door and about 5 feet off the ground, with shrubs partially in front of it and no direct line of contact between it and the door. Good tactical advantage, I think. I also instruct my wife to use that window to identify people at the door rather than go to the door.

          I also have a 2nd story window that overlooks my front porch also with front door visibility where I’d have a major tactical advantage (and a hidden AR-15 in my hands – just in case) to discuss things with a stranger at my front door if absolutely necessary.

      • If there’s a light on in side the house the peephole will go dark (as seen from outside) when you look through it.

        For the problem with peepholes I reference the movie “Sharky’s Machine”. 12 gauge over/under, sawed off.

        • I always have the house dark and the outside lit up if I’m sleeping or not home at night. I live in a very safe neighborhood, and only carry when I go to the city (of St. Louis), or out in the wilderness. A home invasion is something I haven’t really considered happening, but it’s probably as likely as getting robbed / in a gunfight in the city. I would like to have a more solid door and windows with that security film on them. Oh and man I want cameras. I’ve also wanted to put iron fencing on the front of my porch and a gate on the side where the sidewalk leads up. It would be a whole other level of security.

    • I have always thought about another thing concerning peepholes. If you have a light on in the house, a perp can probably see the light coming through. Then when you look through, the perp knows that you are right there, and can blast you right by the door.

  4. I have a great dane and a pit bull mix. They don’t take kindly to being interrupted by knocks at the door at any time day or night. The Fedex dude was trying to drop off my kid’s contact lens last week and wanted me to open the door for a signature. After the dogs went apesh!t at the screen door, he suddenly decided he could leave them without a signature. I told my wife he was definitely in need of an underware change.

    My wife and kids know not to open the door for anyone without proper ID and a damn good reason for being there. I stress situational awareness to them all the time.

    • For your sake, I really hope the dogs are properly trained. My wife and kids (all between the ages of 3 and 7) were attacked by a dog that got out when my eldest was gathering money for Boy Scout popcorn. The owners regained control before serious injury, but honestly they’re lucky that I wasn’t present at the time of the attack because neighborhood relations would have been further strained by the presence of my H&K. The health of the dog would have been up to the ability to get a clear shot. Thankfully it is just awkward now…but I don’t trust their animals one iota.

      Seriously, having a dog is wonderful (we have one) but if you can’t reasonably control it then you’re just hanging onto a liability. I don’t expect everyone to have a dog that speaks fluent German and can balance an entire bag of Scooby Snacks stacked end-over-end on its nose for hours, but please at least train them to ‘stay’ and ‘come’ and be able to communicate to them when stranger does not equal danger.

      • From what you’ve described, the incident had less to do with training and more to do with owner intelligence. You can’t have a protective dog and expect them to sit quietly when someone comes to the door. It just doesn’t work that way, short of legitimate protection dog training (think many thousands of dollars in initial puppy costs and refresher training). So the issue is less training and more making sure that the dog doesn’t get through the door without your say-so. My procedure involves getting the dogs situated before opening the door (which is well after they’ve woken the dead with their howling) and then only opening the inner of two doors (main door plus glass outer door). If you only have the one door then you need to be more careful to put your body between the dogs and the exit. Failing to do that is a failure on the owner’s part to structure the door routine properly, rather than a training problem per se.

        • You make some good points. I think it is very difficult to get even a trained dog to contain himself when someone is banging on your door. It’s just not in their nature to STFU!
          We have a black lab that goes ape anytime someone comes to the door. We have to grab him by the collar, and lead him out the back door.
          I make a joke sometimes when the ups, or Fed Ex guy comes. The dog will be outside close to the front door with a fence in the way.
          I tell the delivery guys to be careful, that we just got home and haven’t fed the dog in for or five days!

    • Loud dogs are fine to deter the common criminal, but properly trained dogs are best when you most need them. Have a stranger come to your house before dinner time with a pound of real bacon, then have them throw that bacon where the dogs can get to it. You will likely watch the dogs chow down on the bacon and ignore the stranger.

    • A friend of mine was arrested on felony vicious dog charges (lowered in a plea deal) one time when somebody attacked his 8 year old neighbor on my friend’s property and the dog attacked the attacker.

      The problem was the attacker was the 8 year old’s little brother and the dog chewed him up pretty good.

      If the above is unclear:
      A six year old attacked his eight year old brother in their neighbor’s front yard. Their neighbor’s dog defended the 8 year old by chewing on the 6 year old, and the neighbor was charged with a felony before pleading guilty to the misdemeanor he should have been charged with in the first place.

    • Yeah, I’d don’t go to the door until I see who is there from a window in another part of the house either. Next house will have a very resistant door as well as cameras.

  5. Good point. Expect the person to be a bad guy, armed and have help. But you can’t use deadly force until they breach my exterior.

    I’ve told this before. Ten years ago I lived an old apartment and was awaken in the middle of the night by banging on the front door. I armed myself and approached. I didn’t approach the peep hole because I expected the door to be kicked in or shot through. I yelled at the guy that I was on the phone with police and that I was armed. All I got back was zombie-like muffled demands for me to open the door. More banging. I stayed clear of the door with my weapon at the ready.

    Within moments a police car roars up. I’m thinking there is about to be a big shootout right on my front porch. Instead, I hear the police walk right up and carry on a calm conversation with the deadly lunatic. No screaming orders to get down and hands behind the back, nothing.

    One cop knocks on my door while announcing himself and I open. I step outside to see the other cop with his arm around this guy in pajama bottoms and no shirt slowly walking toward the squad car. The remaining cop tells me it’s a dementia patient reported from the care facility over a mile away. Cop said it was possible this guy used to live there.

    I think of this every time I hear someone giving advice about firing warning shots or shooting through a door.

  6. I have a cheap CCTV system for just this eventuality. 2 well hidden IR capable cameras hooked up to a handheld monitor so that I can see who might be at the door before I approach. Stranger at the door, or no picture on the monitor, and I go with extreme caution.

    • If you don’t mind me asking, where did you get your setup and about how much did it cost you? I’ve been looking for a decent system but I can’t seem to find what I want for a decent price, or if I do it’s from a company I’m not sure I want to do business with.

  7. What is with all these crazy people opening their doors to banging at 2 am? Leave the door closed and locked. Yell through the closed door you are calling the cops, who will be able to assist them with whatever they need. Stay armed and alert for any attempts to break in. Wait for cops to arrive.

  8. I’d like to tell a story about an intrusion I had in the late evening, many years ago.

    I was building a houseboat on rented land, by the water. The boat was 90% finished, the cabin was completely enclosed, and locked.

    I went out to the boat one evening (it was dark) and I noticed the windows were covered, and I could see that there lights were on inside. Like a dumb ass, I walked up to the front door and knocked.
    A loud voice said “around back!”
    I then got off the boat and started around to the rear door. About half way there I yelled out “Where’s the owner!”
    A reply came back saying “I’m the owner!” I paused a moment, and wondered, what the hell am I going to do now, this guy actually seems to think HE’S the owner of the boat! This was in good old Kalifornia, and I wasn’t armed.
    I decided to go to the owner of the boat yard. He grabbed his pistol, and we both went back to the boat. The boat yard guy just went up to the back door, and forced it in, grabbing the guy and pulled him down to the ground.

    Turns out, my “new occupant” was a kid that had recently been in some mental hospital. He had been in the Vietnam War. He gave us a phone number of his parents, and his father came over to get him. He wasn’t a violent kid at all, but he did have some mental issues.

    The real surprise came when I went back to the boat. I had strung conduit piping all around, but had not yet installed any wiring. I also had a couple coils of Romex which was intended for another purpose.
    The young lad, who was learning to be an electrician, had installed most of the Romex into my conduit.
    What a hassle getting all of that out of there.

    To sum all this up, I’d say the kid was lucky the yard guy didn’t shoot him, and I guess I’m lucky he wasn’t armed and maybe shot me when I came to the door.

    • Whose story are you referring to? The place where your post appears indicates it is a new post and not a reply??

        • It occurred in Milpitas CA (next to San Jose) I think about 1976 or so. The police were not called, nor was the press notified. Had there been shots fired etc., I’m sure it would have become an event worthy of notifying the authorities.
          No harm was done except wiring to remove. Actually, After his father took him home, we kind off felt sorry for the kid.

  9. Only time anyone has ever knocked on my door at 2AM it was the local sheriff’s deputy. He wanted to know if we had a trailer he could borrow to move the cow that had gotten hit down the road.

    Sadly, we didn’t…I think I could’ve gotten a few free steaks out of the deal.

    • You don’t want meat from a critter that died a painful death. Doesn’t matter much what the critter was.

    • If any cop knocks at my door at any time I will not answer, I will close any window blinds where he could peak in (he probably will) and not say anything (it can only be used against me). The fact that he knocked proves there is no search warrant because if there is a warrant, there would be a swat team busting down my door.

      I would also make sure my door was locked. Never, ever trust a cop.

  10. Banging on my door at 2am? Unless it’s the po-leece they’d be in a world of hurt. Something similar propelled my gun ownership. It wasn’t 2 but some dumbazz punks smashed into the neighbors light pole.(they weren’t home). And they banged on my door yelling about needing a phone-I realized other than calling the po-leece and having a baseball bat there wasn’t a lot I could do. Now there is…

  11. As a rule of thumb, a knock at the door in the middle of the night is never a good thing.

    Somebody’s never had a booty call.

  12. Mobile trailer homes have different door options. I have a front, side an rear door. I can look out the blinds. Have deadbolts, an regular door locks. If its night time an I see headlights.I will peek out the blinds. If I don’t then I may ask before I look.Not much safety near my doors. But I hope to try an do what I can.

  13. Lock your doors people. One night 15 or so years ago at my old place I awoke to the distinct sound of someone attempting to turn the handle on my front door. Thankfully it was locked. The creep was being quiet as possible but he was also forceful, finally shaking the entire door. I grabbed an old 12 gauge under the bed that I had to load, taking perhaps 10-15 seconds. I then went to a side window were I could see the porch. By the time I got there he had left and was attempting the same thing on my neighbors (single gals) house. I called the police and twenty minutes later they showed but of course the dude was long gone. The cops stated that there are people who just look for unlocked doors and then they take their chances. There was also a number of rapes in the neighborhood at that time. Before that incident I used to think keeping a gun loaded and ready was to invite to much fear to control ones life. After actually experiencing the reality that a lock may have possibly kept me from great harm I always keep something at hand ready to roll as they say. My neighbor never heard a thing and she was quite frightened when I told her what I experienced and observed. Anyway lock your door with a dead bolt, get a good dog who can alert you and keep a gun readily accessible and ready to use.

    • Been a couple of years ago, husband was out of town, so I was sleeping downstairs on the couch. Something of night owl so was watching TV at 2:00 am. Heard someone trying our door to see if unlocked. Our big, blocky head male Golden Retriever heard it too and did his best Cujo impersonation, while I had already pulled my Ruger .38 revolver from under my pillow, whoever it was had left. Read in subdivision email newsletter next day that “kids” were trying front doors & back doors to try to steal things. The days of leaving a door unlocked should have been over before Leave it to Beaver went into syndication (50’s era family show for you youngsters) I did call 911 to tell them about it, suggested patrol do a couple of laps throughout the neighborhood. Live in small college town, so operator did thank me for calling and did see a patrol car go by shortly thereafter.

  14. When I enter my home at 0300 for my lunch break I come thru the garage. The door has a noisy chain drive motor loud enough to be heard across the house. I turn on the living room lights when my sleeping wife calls out to me I answer immediately. I don’t want to receive five 38 rounds from her night stand revolver.

    As far as answering a knock at 0300 forget it.
    A no knock raid, they get shot.
    An unannounced person knocking and forced entry, they get shot.
    Shooting thru a door? Under the right circumstances, yes.

    • While you shooting at the SWAT team doing a no-knock raid would be an honorable and moral thing to do, I can’t see how you would survive it. You have 15-20 guys all decked out in full armor and probably fully auto assault rifles and you think you can take them on and survive? Even if you did somehow kill all of them, there will be an endless caravan of support on its way to finish you off.

      And if they shoot you with survivable wounds, they will intentionally let you bleed to death before they let the paramedics in. Officer Coward safety, of course.

      Maybe you want to be a martyr, and maybe that would be a good thing if you did kill at least 2 of the criminals with badges. Maybe they will begin to have second thoughts about breaking into people’s houses like the disgusting criminals that they are.

      • It will take the death of several police officers in no knock raids before this practice stops. Only when government workers get killed do things change.

        The police were sloppy they raided the wrong house and killed the wrong man. This case was widely talked about on conservative talk radio at the time. I’m still angry about it. I’m about 70 miles from lebanon Tn. The host said shoot the cops and so did every other person who called into the program.

        http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/2012/02/raid-wrong-house-kill-wrong-person.html

        • If the cops are at the wrong place, they’re home invaders, nothing more. Of course they should be shot, if they’re exhibiting an intent to do violence.

      • @Bob

        There’s another article just posted here talking about a loud, prejudiced minority among gun owners giving us all a bad name. You should probably read that one.

  15. We had some incidents here where in the mid-evening, between 7 to 9, a women would knock on the door requesting assistance– her accomplices would be breaking in from the back/side as she distracted the occupant.

    So– another reason to not open the door, you may have left yourself open to multiple avenues of attack.

  16. It’s not unheard of for invaders to work in teams and have someone break in through the back of the house while the owner is distracted by the partner at the front door.

    For that reason, whenever we have to investigate a bump in the night, we split up and she takes a defensive position in the bonus room, from which she can cover two hallways and three bedrooms.

    Most recent disturbance we responded to was around 3:00 a.m. one night just a few months ago. It sounded like people shuffling around on the back patio, occasionally bumping against the wall, perhaps trying to pick the lock or force open the window.

    She took up her position. I peeked through the curtains on the far side opposite the back patio door. Could se anything, but the sounds were still there. So I suddenly turned on porch’s ceiling fan light with the room control inside……and saw two kittens about six weeks old playing on our back patio and jumping all over the patio furniture.

    • Exactly. It’s a tough call though. You don’t know if the person at the door is innocent and if the cops come they will do everything they can think of to destroy that person’s life (make up some kind of charge, or just arrest them and figure out what to charge them with later).

      Cops far too often cause way more trouble than they solve.

      If the person is a criminal, then maybe he’ll go back to jail but they will soon release him anyway, so I’m sort of leaning towards not calling the police, just saying something like I have neighbors down the street with guns on their way over here so I suggest you leave now. This way you don’t let on that you have any guns for them to come for later.

      • Ha, really? Now the criminal thinks “note to self, come back here because this person is defenseless.”

  17. I recently install remote surveillance cameras around my house. Just wanted to post that there are numerous options available. If you live in an apartment, and can’t drill holes, there are wireless systems available, some with one or two cameras you can aim at your entrance, with a monitor inside, you can have by the door.

  18. Call law enforcement, call out that you had called them and to wait patiently for them to arrive, naturally armed to the teeth. Oh and watch for the many that may be out there to!

  19. “Then, the act of firing through a door (or any other structure) is typically frowned upon. In this case, Walters seems to have had a clear view of what was happening in the moments before firing the shots, but it doesn’t change the fact that he was still shooting blindly.”

    The contradictions on this website are rife with humor, here I am reading an article chastising a man for “shooting blindly”, and yet, just the other day there was an article on this very same website in support of an actual blind man carrying a gun, lol really?

  20. You might want to check the state law where this occurred. You don’t have to worry whether the SOB was inside his home oo in the front yard dead. In Texas you can use deadly force anywhere on your property after dark.

    • I’d rather not kill a criminal who was running from me in my front yard even if it was legal. If he’s running from you, he’s no longer a direct threat. Of course, keep the firearm pointed on him from cover in case he changes his mind and decides to turn around. I’d rather not kill someone who never gained entry and was quickly fleeing after being caught attempting to break in. If he was inside, and hurt one of my family members then that’s a different story.

  21. The one time I had a 2:00 AM knock on the door, it WAS the police. After I put my CZ .40 back in the nightstand, I opened my inner door to talk to them. The neighbor girls across the alley had seen my garage had been broken into & called the PD.

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