Two Punches Put Elderly Florida Man in Coma: It Should Have Been a Defensive Gun Use

A punch can inflict serious bodily injury or even death. Two punches nearly killed an elderly man in Florida last week, according to a report from NBC Miami. Police believe the attacker became angry over a perceived slight moments earlier in the parking lot of a Walgreens. As the old man approached the door, video shows the attack. A pair of roundhouse punches to the seasoned citizen put his lights out.

The attack left the 68-year-old man in a medically induced coma. Police are now seeking the attacker as the public asks itself, “How can someone do this? Especially someone with a small child with him?”

From NBC Miami:

Broward Sheriff’s Office released surveillance video Monday which shows the violent encounter between Anthony DePaul, 68, and another man, who was walking with a child.

The victim’s son, Armany DePaul, said he was worried when his father never came home the day of the attack.

…The incident happened at the front doors of the Walgreens on the 200 block of S. Federal Highway. Around 7:30 p.m., DePaul parked near the entrance of the store before walking to the front doors where the suspect and a young boy stood, BSO said.

Footage shows the two men exchange words and the suspect appears to tell the young boy to step aside before he punches the 68-year-old in the face. The man punches the elderly man several times until the victim falls to the ground, video shows.

From the video, it appears the older man may have relied far too much on his size. His assailant displayed a number of pre-violence indicators. Mr. DePaul either didn’t recognize them or chose to ignore them. He didn’t even have his hands up to block the incoming strikes. The first punch stunned him.  The second one knocked him out cold.

Plenty of lessons here that we can learn from.

First off, prudence demands going elsewhere if you have a disagreement with an idiot in any public location. If you think someone’s angry with you (or acting suspiciously), avoid them and leave. Walking away from trouble doesn’t make for viral video, but it makes for smart living. That rule for winning a gun fight — don’t be there — applies to winning physical confrontations like this as well.

Secondly, attacks can happen anywhere at any time. Even if you don’t participate in stupid activities in stupid places, sometimes the stupid will find you. The assailant in this case gave off a host of pre-violence indicators including body preparation and posturing.

Immediately before the punch, the man told the boy to step aside, bladed and then loaded his punch. The assailant “leaked” these signals of his intent. By reading pre-attack signals, alert people can create distance to increase the reactionary gap. Distance equals time. Time gives you options. And lastly, options mean safety.

Carry your firearm and learn situational awareness. By getting out of the way of a confrontation, you can avoid using deadly force, or having it used on you. Or, as in the case of Mr. DePaul, you can end up a coma in the hospital.

comments

  1. avatar Vhyrus says:

    Sorry, a gun would not have helped that man. Between the first punch and lights out was about 3 seconds and he spent 2 of those trying to block the punches.

    1. avatar bobinmi says:

      yup, sometimes it just isn’t your day.

    2. avatar No one of consequence says:

      True.

      Not sure – since I wasn’t there and don’t stream video at work – whether or not there would have been a good chance to disengage. But the advice to do that, or at the least to be aware of what someone’s tells are telling you, is good.

      1. avatar Vhyrus says:

        It is possible he could have backed up or gone into the store, but assuming you are not justified in drawing until someone actually starts swinging, he had zero chance to draw.

        1. avatar Kendahl says:

          It looks like the old guy was out of his depth and didn’t know how to react. Even his attempts to block the punches were ineffectual.

          At the first sign of hostile intent, back away and move sideways in the direction of the aggressor’s strong side. Loudly order him to leave you alone. (This attracts attention and establishes your legal status as the victim.) If you are carrying, get your hand on your gun. Doing so will probably stop him in his tracks. If not, you can quickly draw and fire while blocking his punch with your off hand. The disparity between youthful assailant and elderly victim justifies defense using deadly force.

          I doubt the attacker really knows how to fight. Roundhouse punches are easy to block and leave the puncher open to a counterattack. If you are physically fit, block the punch, step into him with a punch to the throat, kick him in the crotch and finish up with a knee to the face. A couple of weeks ago, I came across a surveillance video of a woman taking out an armed mugger with exactly those moves. She left him on the pavement writhing in pain.

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          At this range reaching for your gun is about as effective as what the old guy did: standing there getting punched in the face.

          Drop your hand going for your gun and you’re going to eat punches or get taken down with an arm pinned. Either way you’re unlikely to get your gun into the fight. Bad plan. You need to make some space before you go for your gat.

      2. avatar Robb says:

        From what I can tell of the video, he had plenty of chance. He was standing at bad breath distance, apparently arguing with the guy, before punches were thrown.

        1. avatar PDW says:

          “Round house punches are easy to block.”

          That depends on who’s throwing them. Google “Igor Vovchanchin” or “Fedor Emelianenko” and view their fights.

          These two men repeatedly tko’d/ko’d guys who were physically fit, professional MMA fighters and who were surely coached to defend against their opponents looping punches.

          They still got rocked by overhand punches.

    3. avatar Evo Shift says:

      The usual suspects……..

      1. avatar Grumpy F'er says:

        My thought exactly. Even without knowing what preceded this video clip, if a large black man gets in your face and is talking sh*t, it’s time to go. There is a genetic marker for lack of impulse control, and blacks have it.

        Back away, time to go.

    4. You forgot about open carry, which deters the attack from happening in the first place.

  2. avatar Gregolas says:

    I am about halfway though “In the Name of Self Defense” by Marc MacYoung. Every gun carrier or any person who wants to learn the psychology and indicators of assault, detection and avoidance, and the legal parameters of self defense, should read this book.

  3. avatar Swilson says:

    Also a reminder that if someone approaches you, or attempts contact with you out in public, you are under no obligation to stop what you are doing and speak with them. While I have no idea how the conflict originated and who said what (hey, the victim could’ve said something offensive, not that that excuses the assault), several times per month I am approached or hailed by people seeking money. I make a point of continuing what I was doing and not stopping and engaging with them.

    1. avatar Garrison Hall says:

      When I absolutely have to speak to them, I always smile and say “Sorry I don’t give money away . . .” and keep moving. Works every time.

  4. avatar former water walker says:

    And don’t try to be a badazz if you’re old and can’t back it up. Hey not a long time ago I’ve been accosted by homeless types because I DIDN’T acknowledge their presence. Crazy is crazy and you need to be on guard constantly…

  5. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    I don’t know exactly what all led up to the events depicted in the video. However, in the video, I see the elderly man approach the younget man in a heated rush, then stop and apparently berate the younger man from a threatening body posture. I even saw the younger man take a step back to disengage, before then blading up and striking.

    That said, the younger man still could have walked away, as could have the elderly man. It appears to me that they both by tgeir actions consented to the physical encounter. Neither has a good claim to self defense. They should both be charged with disturbing the peace only. That second punch is a little iffy. One could argue the elderly man had disengaged at that point, but that’s hindsight and not completely clear in that moment.

    Now, the younger man shouldn’t expect much street cred on the inside for knocking out a sexagenarian, but that’s a different matter. Moral of this story is either let the petty stuff roll off your back and walk away, or else be prepared to follow it through and suffer the consequences.

  6. avatar Blake says:

    Well I’m sure of one thing, the child will probably grow up to be a model citizen with the stellar role models in his/her life.

  7. avatar John says:

    Well, the perp was wearing his practicing-for-prison uniform, which should narrow the search considerably.

  8. avatar CLarson says:

    Another failure of multiculturalism. Some people need a skull fracture and brain bleed to learn that not everyone communicates the same way. Hope the old guy pulls through.

  9. avatar strych9 says:

    When people you don’t know make it apparent that they want to be close to you that’s when you keep your hands up using gestures.

    “Talking with your hands” annoys people but it keeps your hands up so that you can block incoming shots if need be.

    Really I’m not sure it would have mattered in this case, OFWG obviously isn’t in the kind of shape he’d need to be to go toe-to-toe with the other dude and things escalate quickly enough from argument (no legal ability to pull a weapon) to attack (legal ability to pull weapon) that his only option was to physically fight, something he clearly wasn’t prepared to do.

    Hope he makes it out of the hospital in OK condition.

    1. avatar Ragnar says:

      Even if he did shoot, he would have been portrayed as a racist, OFWG that shot an unarmed black man with his hands up. In front of his child, no less. No win situation.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        Unfortunately that’s probably a correct analysis and, even though it’s probably not true, this is a case where fiction can do the work of truth and ruin that guy’s life.

  10. avatar W.F. O'Hara says:

    Poor SA on the unfortunate gentleman’s part I’d say.
    Anytime someone becomes that aggressive one must be prepared to defend or back off.
    Even after the first punch it seemed the victim remained in a state of disbelief.
    Hope he makes a recovery and the perp gets prosecuted.

  11. avatar Sprocket says:

    Part of personal safety is avoiding scumbags. The older gentleman misjudged the nature of the savage he was dealing with.

    1. avatar Martin B says:

      There is some evidence that people not frequently exposed to people of another color, find it difficult to effectively read the facial and other physical communication cues given by that other race person. That is just a situation of unfamiliarity breeding ignorance. Had that elderly gent spent more time in discussion with black folks, he might have read the situation more wisely. Getting into public spats with younger and fitter men is not a recipe for continued long life and health.

  12. avatar jimmy james says:

    The title of the article would indicate that this should have been a DGU . Yet the bulk of the article extols the virtue of walking away (tall?). It would seem there was no time to walk away and if the victim had been open carrying, I doubt there would have been any altercation at all. And if the victim had been CC’ing I doubt he would have been a victim at all. So which is it TTAG?

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