Colorado Walmart's Armed Innocents Hampered Police. Or Not.

“Most shoppers crouched behind checkout counters or bolted toward the back exit,” Kurtis Lee writes at latimes.com. “But as a gunman fired inside a Wal-Mart store in a Denver suburb, some patrons took a more defensive approach: They grabbed their own guns. They were the proverbial ‘good guys with guns’ that gun rights advocates say have the power to stop mass shootings.” The problem being . . .

Police in Thornton, Colo., said that in this case the well-intentioned gun carriers set the stage for chaos, stalling efforts to capture the suspect (above) in the Wednesday night shooting that killed three people.

We reported on this story in last night’s Daily Digest. I’m revisiting it here to highlight a few facts the LA Times somehow forgot to mention in their article Are more guns helpful? In Wal-Mart shooting, armed shoppers hinder police investigation. 

First, the police weren’t on scene when the killer fired his gun; they arrived after the perp had escaped. Second, the armed good guys didn’t shoot other armed good guys (no shots were fired by anyone other than the bad guy). And third, other reports indicate that the killer scarpered after he caught sight of armed opposition.

Given these facts one could easily argue that armed defenders prevented greater loss of life. And that all the anti-gun rights hysteria about the presence of armed innocents making\ cops’ jobs harder is a bunch of horsesh*t. I mean, how exactly did these armed Americans threaten public safety?

Police began combing through store security camera footage to identify him and determined whether he had an accomplice.

“Once the building was safe…. we started reviewing that [surveillance video] as quickly as we could,” Victor Avila, a spokesman for the Thornton Police Department, told reporters.

But the videos showed several people in the store with their guns drawn. That forced detectives to watch more video, following the armed shoppers throughout the store in an effort to distinguish the good guys from the bad guy, Avila said.

Investigators went “back to ground zero” several times as they struggled to pinpoint the suspect, he said.

Five hours after the shooting, police identified 47-year-old Scott Ostrem as the gunman. He was arrested Thursday morning.

Holy investigative nightmare Batman! It took Thornton Police five hours to identify the killer after watching, what, ten minutes of surveillance video from, say, five cameras? Are we to assume that there weren’t any eyewitness accounts? That the armed defenders left the scene before police arrived?

Nine-point-nine times out of ten, the police are not the first responders to an act of violence. The innocent people being attacked are the first responders. The idea that they should be disarmed to make it easier for armed police to respond — most often after the fact — is to say that it’s OK to sacrifice innocent life on the altar of imagined efficiency. It isn’t.

Besides, as National Association for Gun Rights Prez Dudley Brown told the Times, “In that situation, what are people supposed to do? Lay down on the floor and draw chalk marks around themselves?”

82 COMMENTS

  1. sorry but i’m pulling mine out and keeping it low till needed if the cops don’t like that then tuff-stuff…..your 10 minutes away..

      • Sure, defend yourself, but when a guy opens up in walmart, there just might be more to the story. Assuming only one perp is fine in hindsight when you already know the answer, but what if the “perp” was drawing down on bigger threats like bombwearing terrorists or a target about to unleash a rampage. You cannot all be Trumps and quarterback and criticize having no information but the published facts hours later.

        The constant cop bashing here just reminds the rest of us how immature many of those carrying concealed really are. Please, put on a uniform and give it a shot if you’re so damned talented.

        Go ahead and call this one smart guy: its still in progress:

        http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/police-engaged-in-standoff-after-man-barricaded-himself-inside-big/article_87d99952-cb46-5336-a435-ae6a93a415c7.html#tracking-source=home-latest-1

        • I’m not gonna put on a uniform because we don’t need patrol cops in America; they are a standing army. SWAT teams we need because at times there are crazies that take hostages, barricade themselves in, etc, but pork in cars tossing out tickets for doing 35 in a 30, and shooting African American CCW holders isn’t worth taxpayer money.

        • Could it also be that he ended his shooting spree earlier than planned and took off when he saw legally armed civilians?

        • Yeah, beat your wife, get away with drunk driving, get that power rush from intimidating everyone you meet to submissiveness, enforce unethical laws because of “following orders”. No thanks, some of us have consciences.

        • It’s laws man, some laws are wrong, Cops enforce them. …. .Oh and by the way, I was listening to scanner, got tach3 ( the secret frequency) uhhhh what u guys was saying about us wasn’t so pretty, generalizing every one as ” lying pieces of shit” So there you go.

        • It’s true that enforcing unethical laws is one of the only two of my list that all cops are guilty of. The rest are just strong correlations. Still, ‘I only do evil because I am paid to’ is an even sleazier version of the Nuremberg defense.

        • “Go ahead and call this one smart guy: its still in progress:”

          There are no hostages. So it is pretty simple. Turn off the power, water, gas. Establish a perimeter. Wait. Cops are getting paid if they are standing a perimeter or sitting on a speed trap. So let them stand and wait until the guy surrenders.

    • Agreed! So, the first story, reported by the L.A. Times and here, was totally bogus?! What a surprise. It still holds true, “When seconds count, the Police are only minutes away!” Retired L.E.O.’s will tell you – You’re on your own! The faster you attack, the fewer lives will be lost.

  2. Sure would like to see those videos for myself. I’m wondering why anyone actually drew their own gun unless they could identify an immediate, serious threat. If I heard gunfire nearby, I’d be looking for cover FIRST, then look around as much as possible, maybe even urging others to find cover. IF I saw the attacker, and had a clear shot to prevent innocent people from being harmed… THEN I’d be drawing my gun. But not before.

    • So, your plan is to see an armed attacker and try to draw on him while he is aiming at you? I think you will lose that gunfight. Action beats reaction.

      Drawing a gun takes only a second. The same second they have to aim and fire.

    • If you are waiting to draw until you “identify” the attacker and have a clear line of fire, then I suggest that you are already behind the eight ball a good percentage of the time. In a perfect situation, yes but most defensive encounters (outside the home) are not perfect situations. Seeking cover and looking for escape avenues is obviously a good strategy but drawing your handgun and having it low may be appropriate as well IMHO.

    • If I’m out somewhere and hear shots close by, I’m at the very least going to grip my gun and get ready to draw. Most likely I’ll go ahead and draw and stay at low-ready. Maybe you’ve perfected your draw to the level of a JJ Racasa or something but I haven’t and want the advantage of having my weapon ready should the need arise.

      • That would depend on a lot of variables, Tim. My first action, however, would NOT be to draw the gun. I’m a retired firearms and self defense instructor, so I have probably practiced both drawing and situational tactics a lot more than some folks, but I’m no flash operator… just an old lady who believes that rational thought and careful action is more important than a fast draw. And yes, I have already had to shoot a man in self defense… and don’t ever want to do so again. But I would if I had to.

        • smoot – Does that mean if you drop your knife you have 21 seconds before any germs get on it?;-)

        • No, no, no… you are confusing the knife thing with the 5 second rule most mothers know and love. If you can pick it up within 5 seconds, there are no bad germs to worry about. Unfortunately, my household includes a dog who has vastly faster reaction times than mine. He gets whatever goodie is dropped… every time (unless he’s outside, of course.) :):):)

    • Youre dumb. Gunfire = danger of some kind = my gun is drawn. Drawing a firearm is a fairly smart reaction to the perception of an unknown threat. Even if I have to put it away without using it, id rather have it out before I know I need it. (Also you can take cover while drawing/with your gun drawn) Not to mention, taking cover by default precludes the potentially necessary reaction of immediately running towards the danger. Whereas necessity is determined by the course of action that prevents the most harm from occurring.

      All that aside, if you dont feel like you’re going to make a positive difference then simply dont draw. However, 9.9/10 if youre armed and are unable to make a positive difference its your fault. Either you werent paying enough attention, you arent very good or familiar with your weapon, are incompetent, are a coward, or are some combination of these.

      Just be a reasonable and moral man. Surely you cant go wrong that way.

      • “(Also you can take cover while drawing/with your gun drawn)”

        Duh. I knew a guy in Miami who was a bank security guard. He had me try some drills they did for training, including emptying brass and reloading while running squatted down from one spot of concealment to another or to cover. After the first half dozen tries I found the rhythm, and after that it wasn’t hard.

        Plus, depending on how you carry, drawing before reaching concealment may be easier.

      • “However, 9.9/10 if youre armed and are unable to make a positive difference its your fault.”

        I must agree.

        A friend was in a sketchy part of an urban area, stopping at a convenience store, when some people just about knocked him down as they were running out screaming about a man with a gun robbing the place. Since his infant daughter was in his car he decided not to try to enter and engage — but from the door he could see a display of charcoal briquets. He yelled into the store “Armed citizen!” and fired one shot into the briquets. Things inside got quiet, and when a few minutes later the cops finally arrived (it must be nice to be less than a dozen blocks from a cop shop) he learned that at the sound of his gun the bad guy dropped his and surrendered to the clerk.

        The cops decided they wouldn’t charge my friend with anything but they strongly suggested he buy the charcoal he’d damaged.

  3. “…following the armed shoppers throughout the store in an effort to distinguish the good guys from the bad guy,…”

    The ones that aren’t shooting random shoppers are the good guys.

    Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

  4. Sounds like the LA Times really had to work hard to find a liberal spin they could put on this story.

  5. So they caught him in 5 hours instead of 4.75 hours.
    What’s with this statist postmortem fetish of getting the bad guy after the fact? Seems to me preventing the bad guy from acting at all is the best outcome, limiting the time the bad guy can act once he has decided to act second best outcome and going off and capturing him after the fact a near pointless endeavor.

    I’d take a weeks or months long manhunt over a Walmart full of dead people and a quick capture any day.

    • A month long manhunt is a waste of resources compared to dozens of bodies in a Walmart. The dozens of dead bodies draws ratings for the propaganda media and feeds narratives for disarmament, which the Gestapo cops are more than happy to agree with because it gives them more power, gets them interviews, etc.

      It’s the government-media complex at work. Mass shooting=big ratings and a crisis that only gov’t can fix by banning bump stocks.

      • What’s this “gestapo cops” crap? I am 75 years old and I have been observing police activity since I was a kid, part of that time as a private investigator, and the only “gestapo cops” I have seen were the California Highway Patrol cops who went to New Orleans after Katrina and wrestled a harmless great grandmother to the floor because she didn’t want to give away her unloaded revolver. It has always appeared to me it isn’t the cops who are the ‘gestapo,’ its the thugs who want to get away with lawlessness and hate the cops because their job is to prevent it. And I haven’t seen a story of a “police shooting” yet that wouldn’t have been prevented had the so-called “victim” responded properly to police commands.

  6. That’s it! If a Police officer acts political, and Politically attacks the US citizenry because the citizens have too many rights! The police officers in question should be immediately terminated! No ifs, and no buts…Good-bye pension, Don’t let the door hit you on the way out! This is the same Law Enforcement community that is directly interfering with a US citizens constitutional right to exercise their Lawful 2nd Amendment rights in quite a few states…While on the other hand, The Law Enforcement community has granted itself the same civilian right as ” Special Privilege, or a Political Job Entitlement !” This too, has to stop, and be enforced under the 14 Amendment ! Also, I propose a complete ban on all Police Unions nationwide, and Full independent national Civilian review boards for all rank and file Police officers….As well, as a Ban on ” Law Enforcement officers Bill of Rights– where applicable…” Cited under the 14 the amendment…

    • Absolute B.S. Cops don’t make the law; they enforce it — even when they don’t like it. If you don’t want the cops to enforce the law, become an activist and get the legislature or city councils to change the law. Adam henries who bitch and moan about law enforcement in the first nation on the planet to be founded upon the principle of the Rule of Law instead of the Rule of Man are fools. Yes, there are a few cops who try to exercise the Rule of Man, but there are a whole lot of unmitigated savages out there who prey on law-abiding citizens and the cops are there to stop them. Without them you would have no rights at all in a society of vicious animals.

      • so “just doing my job” a justifiable defence then even when the orders are unlawful as many that the cops are told to enforce are including being unconstitutional. that is one of the reasons i would not last as a cop because if a law i was told to enforce was unlawful and/or unconstitutional i would not enforce it end of story. the other is because i have seen the level of corruption in the police force and i would feel duty bound (much like serpico in NY in the 70’s) to stop it. that in and of itself would have the other cops gunning for me in short order

    • In reality, most police officers in America support the 2nd Amendment, and that is a fact. The problem is that politicians often dictate who leads a police department and makes the rules. I live in Arizona, and I have yet to have a negative response from any police officer because I carry. But, you will never see me in California, New York, and several other leftist states because I know I likely to encounter police there that have no respect for the 2nd Amendment…and most other principals of a free society.

      • Ok I have to speak up here. I am not anti law enforcement, but saying that it’s not the cops fault because they have to enforce unconstitutional gun laws because a politician said so doesn’t fly. I see cops give warnings all the time for traffic violations. Hell, I have got a couple. They use their discretion all the time if not there would be no warnings and they would stop everybody that changed lanes without signalling, everybody that “kind of rolled” through a stop sign, etc, and ticket them. If they can do that, they can use their discretion in these laws they allegedly don’t agree with.

        • absolutely. police are supposed to use discretion and not just follow laws indiscriminately. that is a police state if they are not allowed to do that. you in america also have what is known as jury nullification in your legal system. here in australia we used to have it but like most of the good older laws that keep them from having too much power that has been taken away first by not educating people about it and once most no longer knew about it removed from the books.

  7. So I browsed the comments on the Times article.

    Sigh. No armed citizen did anything wrong; nobody acted irresponsibly or shot randomly. And still the tired old memes and slanders. I never understand how a good guy can’t possibly “hit an elephant in a hallway” to quote one comment, while the same gun automagically transforms a bad guy into the Terminator. (The one from the first movie, not the second who was told not to kill.)

    And again .. no blood on good guys’ hands, but they’re still getting flak. They caused the police zero issues at the scene, far as I can tell . But still they must be vilified and blamed for … something ..
    because guns. I just don’t get the mindset that comes up with that.

  8. “…But the videos showed several people in the store with their guns drawn. That forced detectives to watch more video,”

    Poor babies…. having to sit in the comfort and safety of the van or office reviewing tapes of the event.

    Maybe if you asked some of the people on-site you could have figured out all the people looking in one particular direction were the good guys and the one guy that everyone was looking at was the bad guy.

    • Now Chip, are you expecting those mealy mouthed cops not to reach for any excuse they possibly can? After all, those ballistically enabled citizens make them look impotent in front of those reporters.

    • Chip, you gotta understand during those hours of investigation the cops needed to grab a Keurig on display for coffee and some Entenmann’s doughnuts before they looked at the footage. Investigative police work takes a certain mindset and the caffeine and complex carbs help facilitate that trained law enforcement modus operendi.

  9. Job of Military: Search and Destroy. Job of Civilian Law Enforcement: Pursure and Apprehend. Job of Armed Civilian: Defend and Escape. So if I hear shots at the entrance I’m initially taking cover, drawing my weapon and seeking to escape at the nearest exit. I do not have the tactical training nor the desire to “seek out” the shooter. It sounds like the “god guys” did OK.

  10. Personally I don’t care what the police say, or anyone else for that matter.

    If I hear gunshots in a store mine is coming out, and me and family are quickly finding a safe exit. Very quickly and low seeking cover along the way.

    If wacko shooter happens to be in my way, bad for him/her.

    Otherwise we are out of there.

  11. So, they’re arguing you should give up the whole rest of your life to spare the cops 10 min of warching videos? At least we’re clear on who’s important.

    • Yeah, you’re not. You’re not part of the central party that runs the state or federal gov’t. You’re an expendable worker bee who other worker bees can abuse while the queen bees bleed you dry of your honey and make themselves fat.

      That’s been human history forever, but the thing is that so long as we ridicule this broken system, over time, the people will come to understand that it’s a house of lies.

    • F their feelz. my safety comes before their feelz and if they were to come between me and the perp trying to stop me stopping the perp, well i hope the perp shoots them in the feelz

  12. I wouldn’t have expected any different a response from Denver officials. They are on board with whatever agenda elected democrats are looking to push

  13. So, they’re annoyed the citizens got in the way of their noble hunt story?

    Perps – The noble prey in the great urban hunt.
    Cops – The folks on safari, getting their trophy hunt on.
    Citizens – Bait.

    Shame when the bait thinks it ought to have a vote n messes up the story.

  14. It’s a Walmart. They were hoping for a juicy bad guns story and *lots* of those wrong people dead. (You realize they even vote sometimes.)

  15. Interesting… all those people in Walmart with guns on their hips, n not a one came out until some whack-job started shooting up the place.

    That seems almost … responsible.

  16. Yes. Whether the lefties realize it or not, their argument is that it’s better for people to be killed and then let the police TRY to find who did it.

    You know…cause it’s just easier and the way the “system” works.

    Don’t want to add any complications with regular old people defending themselves and highlighting the fact that police cannot protect you.

    The police are just there to enforce due process and so the state can prosecute.

    • They’d rather have more people dead to push the anti-gun narrative. The fact that people were armed shows that concealed carry works as a determinant, just like Mutually Assured Destruction does.

      The police are the modern day protection racket. “Only WE can protect you!” Allowing citizens to protect themselves for free, and do a better job of it, really makes people wonder about why we spend so much money on cops, many of whom are drug addicts and pedophiles that work with sex trafficking rings to assist in human trafficking and abduct children and teenagers like modern day slavers.

      The police exist to protect the bureaucrats and politicians to keep the money flowing.

  17. So…

    ** Bad guy shoots up the place — law enforcement n gun control demonstrably didn’t prevent that

    ** Citizens cncealed carry in a Waly-World — yet somehow don’t start shooting up the place

    ** Citizens’ arms come out when B G shoots — there when needed

    ** Bad guy flees when good guy’s arms come out — that’s a useful 10 min of people not getting shot up (by B G)

    ** Nobody shot by good guys, not B G, not each other, not bystanders, not cops — seems restrained, disciplined, prudent (Unlike, say, N Y C cops on busy sidewalks sometimes.)

    Seems like the entire argument for armed self-defense right there. Short form: Armed citizens stop criminal violence law enforcement did not prevent, with no harm done or collateral damage.

    /rant
    Article-guy seems bugged that people did a thing without prior authorization vs the designated agents doing this with form 37b/6 already filed. In “Everything not compulsory is forbidden”-land control matters, not people do8ng more.of what tbey want. He’s also concerned that investigating cops will have a hard time sorting the B G shooting people from not-B Gs not. He doesn’t seem to think much of cops, either.

    Article-guy hates guns bacause they are powerful tools, and hates citizens with guns because that allows citizens to do stuff on their own. He’s perfectly indifferent to whether there’s more dead or more alive, or he’d have mentioned that. It’s all about order, via defined authorities. People getting to live their lives isn’t even on his radar.

    Article-guy’s problem with the world would just make him sad, except “deplorables” are expendable, while “irredeemables” are really better off dead. If he had his way, his distaste would get the rest of us killed, and he’d be fine with that.

    (Also, dumb, reactive Walmart shoppers, probably wearing camo did this – Can’t have the deplorables doing something good. We might change our minds about them.)

      • Thanks for the kind words. Now, if I can type better…

        Y’all hereabouts have been very patient with my crappy post-stroke typos. Thank you for that.

  18. So the police were more than happy to push their libtard agenda while using the armed citizens as a scape goat? You don’t say… “sarge I lost my gun because those darn law abiding citizens again”. I mean hey, it works alright for the whole ruling class of Chicago. The media is happy to play along with this moronic larping fantasy.

  19. Of course they spent five hours to identify the guy: they get points for arresting people, so they had to follow every person in every video to see if there was anything they might be able to charge them with.

    And don’t try to tell me they don’t get points, it’s how the whole promotion system works. They may have changed the names to protect the guilty, but the system remains the same.

  20. “It took Thornton Police five hours to identify the killer”

    The Pulse Nightclub cops could have used that as an excuse. It took them three hours to breach.

    If cops wait long enough, it’s easy to identify the BG, because everyone else is dead.

    • You could be more right than you know. If you wait for everybody to bleed out, well, the dead are cheaper than the injured.

  21. Easy peasy: Identify the first person to draw a weapon and fire it, send officers to investigate him, go through the rest of the video to confirm.

  22. 1. WE THE PEOPLE ARE THE LAW! we make them , not the government. so yes we need to be armed . and yes the armed people saved more lives in that Walmart. so keep carrying the guns people.( but make sure you know the laws surrounding their use, please, because we don’t want to give any thing to the commie bastards in this country to use against us). be observant of your surroundings, and be careful , and stay safe. and God bless all of you.

  23. As a former ASM for walmart and APM for Sam’s club I can tell you that, even with the low end cameras, it shouldn’t have taken that long unless the police had no idea what time the shooting occured, did not bother talking to witnesses and were drunk/stoned/concussed.

    The stores I worked in had the worst cameras in the market, and I’ve helped local LEOs make arrest on organized retail crime rings so I have some experience with the equipment.

  24. For Gods sake people. Learn your place at a crime scene! You’re supposed to be dead on the ground in a pool of blood. NOT going all willy-nilly defending your life. It is SO MUCH easier for the police when the good guys can be counted without them moving around all alive and such.

  25. NAGR and it’s founder/president Dudley Brown have been repeatedly called out for being a fake gun-rights group. The “National Association of Gun Rights” has reportedly NEVER been involved or contributed towards any pro-second Amendement litigation or spent a dime outside of their own fund-raising. AFAIK Dudley Brown has not been able to provide evidence to the contrary.

    Don’t give money to fake gun-rights groups – You might as well send it to Mickey Bloomberg.

    Join the GOA, SAF or NRA instead.

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