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This video report above begins with the hero of the piece, Charles Place, saying that he’s “the diner’s entertainment at times. I’m their aggravation at other times, I suppose.” What does that mean? We can certainly infer that Place’s interpersonal skills aren’t always the best. As this is a gun self-defense story, that raises an important question: did Pace get in an argument with “local transient” Bryan Treloar before their potentially lethal encounter?

That he did. Here’s another account of what went down, via

Place said the incident started when he was eating breakfast at Castillo’s, 1724 N. Fort Harrison Ave.

Treloar approached him and asked the retired Navy sailor to buy him a meal.

Place said he told him no, but Treloar kept talking to him, asking “silly questions” and claiming to know him from Alcoholics Anonymous. Place said he had never been a member of AA and became suspicious of Treloar . . .

So the man tried to take his wallet, Place said, shortly after he left Castillo’s restaurant in Clearwater on Thursday morning.

Bryan Treloar, a 43-year-old transient, grabbed Place from behind, police said.

“He put his hand in my pocket here,” Place said. “And I grabbed his arm with both my hands. And I screamed, ‘Hey!’ and he let me go.”

Place was knocked to the ground. The attack was thwarted when Place pulled out his .25-caliber semi-automatic handgun from his pocket.

“I was ready to shoot if he got me, you know,” Place said. “And I didn’t want to. I’ve never wanted to shoot anybody.”

On the face of it, the critical issue seems to be whether the attack was “thwarted” or over when Place hit the deck. If it was over, his gun should have remained holstered. The legal litmus test: would a reasonable person believe that Place’s life was in danger at the moment he drew his weapon? That he was in imminent danger of death of grievous bodily harm?

In practical terms, it makes no difference. If Trealor had simply pushed Place to the ground (without trying to take his wallet) and Place had shot him, I bet the Florida DA would have let him walk. Vet kills argumentative transient? Fuhgeddabowdit.

The real moral of this story is not to carry a gun just in case. It’s to deescalate dangerous situations or leave. Or deescalate AND leave.

Trealor was trying to engage Place. I’m sure Place knew that Trealor wasn’t quite right (by smell alone, perhaps). If Place couldn’t vamoose, how much would it have cost the vet to buy Trealor a meal at that little hole in the wall?

I know some of you are thinking “Screw him. Why should an old man leave the restaurant. He had every right to be there. And why let a bum intimidate an old man into buying food? That’s robbery. Extortion. Intimidation. Thuggery. You let people get away with that shit and civilized society is doomed.”

Place, who has a concealed weapons permit, was cut in the hand during the struggle, but said he didn’t need to go to the hospital. He said he hopes Treloar can find help to get off the streets.

In hindsight, Place said he wished the incident would’ve happened differently.

“I would have bought him something to eat, I think,” he said.

It’s not the story you see in the video, but it’s the one that has the most to teach us. IMHO.

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  1. Robert,

    Maybe I see the story a little differently then you.

    I see Treloar starting the attack with the "interview" phase.
    It seems that he first tried to get what he wanted through deceit, then when that didn't work he moved on to direct physical action.

    Given the escalation, I sure wouldn't have called the attack 'over' because the victim was down on the ground.

    I think that presenting a firearm after being physically assaulted, especially given the strength differential, is appropriate.

    It’s not the story you see in the video, but it’s the one that has the most to teach us. IMHO

    So, you would recommend buying off a criminal before turns violent?
    Does it matter if Treloar wasn't " quite right"? It seems that he knew enough about right and wrong to try to escape after the crime, he knew enough about right and wrong to try deceit.

    If Treloar just wanted to eat, why didn't he offer to work for the meal? Why didn't he ask for a ride to the local shelter, why didn't he ask for a couple of bucks?

    Sorry, I'll help people out but draw the line at rewarding liars and scam artists.

    Where do you draw the line?
    Reason I ask, I'm sure you've got a lot of great stuff. If I send you my address, will you mail me your stuff?

    What's the difference between all your stuff and one meal, eh?

    • You raise the point discussed at the end of the piece. You share the belief that you can't let the bad guys win. That you have to stand for something, or face a loss of dignity and social justice. I appreciate and admire that point-of-view, but I view my survival as my first priority.

      If it costs me $10 to buy a liar and scam artist breakfast to avoid a violent confrontation, then sure. I might only do it once, and see about calming him down and getting him some professional help (or not) while I was doing it. But I'd do it. Would I let him hit me up every day? Not unless he was good company and I could afford it. But as a one-off confrontation preventer, giving a threat what he or she wants can be an excellent strategy—if you can afford it. Turning the other cheek isn't always a bad strategy. I consider it my go-to strategy, that buys me time to escape, avoid or attack.

      Guess what? I've got no problem with bribing a bad guy to go away either. I've avoided several barroom brawls by joking with my aggressor, buying him a beer and getting the hell out of Dodge. Should I have stood up like a man and fought? What for? You can give a criminal an inch and not give them a mile. Sort of like . . . paying taxes.

      If someone wants all my stuff and threatens to kill me and my family for it, if there's a gun against my head, yup, I'll fork it over. And then figure out a way to make sure I don't get killed if killings next on the agenda. And then, later, find a way to get my stuff back. But it is only stuff.

  2. Robert,

    Sorry but it isn't loss of dignity, it's recognition of the techniques criminals use — what's the best point to stop the crime?

    You see it as buying a breakfast, I don't. I see that as the interview — will this person resist? Will this person bend to the criminal will?

    I don't see buying the breakfast as avoiding the crime — it would have delayed it but Treloar didn't just want breakfast — he wanted someone's money.

    I've avoided problems by walking away, I've avoided problems by giving in — but I'm not sure this would have been the case. I've also been in situations that no matter what I said or did, the other guy wanted to cause problems.

    This is the major problem I have with the mentality "It's only stuff". — nope, it's stuff obtained by violent crime.
    Giving in to violent crime only encourages the criminal and endangers more of society.

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