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Image courtesy Idaho State Journal

The 21-Foot Rule predicts that a knife can beat a gun within…yes, 21 feet. But a deranged, machete-wielding intruder in Pocatello, Idaho might have forgotten that the 21-Foot Rule doesn’t apply when that gun is already drawn and aimed at your center of mass. For that slight miscalculation, he took three 9mm slugs to the torso . . .

According to the Idaho State Journal, defender James Cvengaros had been awakened by the sound of his deranged upstairs neighbor noisily breaking his own windows. Cvengaros had a bit of a history with this neighbor from hell, so when he heard him breaking into other apartments he grabbed his 9mm and called the police.

Cvengaros had actually bought the handgun because the same deranged neighbor had kicked in his door on an earlier occasion to complain about loud music. It’s a shame Cvengaros didn’t have a gun on him that first time, but Cvengaros figured things out in time for the next break-in.

When his door burst open and the crazed neighbor entered with a machete, Cvengaros warned him that he had a gun and repeatedly commanded him to leave. When that didn’t work, Cvengaros reluctantly switched to Plan B.

“I told him to stop. I told him, ‘I’ve got a gun, don’t make me use it,’ but he just kept coming at me. He had this crazy, glazed look,” Cvengaros said. “I thought a gun would deter him. It did not.”

Cvengaros said he fired the handgun twice, and the intruder kept coming. When he fired a third shot, the man went down.

The lunatic is recovering from extensive emergency surgery and is likely to survive to face charges of aggravated burglary. No charges are expected against the homeowner.

I’ve got to ask again: what is it with crazy people and machetes?

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  1. Agreed, I’d love to see full autopsies from cases like this. I want to know what kind of 9mm this guy took “to the torso”. Whether they’re fmj or hp I want to know the details. Also where the shots impacted and what they damaged.

      • It matters because an after-incident report helps to find out what worked this time, compared to what worked or didn’t work before. All self-defense carriers find this kind of real-life testing useful.

        • You miss my point.

          People read too much into this stuff.

          Here are some examples from some real world shootings:

          (1) I’ve been to multiple autopsies where the deceased was killed with a single shot from a .22.

          (2) I’ve been to the autopsy of a man shot 6 times with .357 Sig…and every single shot was fatal. He remained on his feet long enough to continue pointing a gun at the shooter, hence the repeat shots by the good guy.

          (3) Jared Reston was shot in the face, then subsequently 6 additional times, by a bad guy with a .45. He survived, AND killed the bad guy, though it took him 7 hits to do with his .40 S&W.

          What do we learn from this type of study?

          That obsessing on the caliber and what not is pretty much a pointless exercise. All these stats don’t mean much in the big picture.

          The most important rule is “Have a gun.” Well, check that. The first rule is to have a survivalist mindset, but if we are talking about the tools and the skills, “Have a gun” comes first. This is followed in a close second by “Hit the damn target.”

        • Thanks JR for the autopsy examples. I agree with your points one and two: Mindset and carry. But I also get Sams I think. Then it helps to know what works real world, by autopsy numbers as gel testing is only part of the story. Plus these stories bring home other parts of the equation for self defense: SA, basic gun training to hit CoM under stress, elements of legal self defense in your state, scenario visualizations for go/ no-go…that made this homeowners experience successful…vs becoming chopped hamburger.

        • Ty JR for posting the info. I agree with you, but would still like to see after action reports. If it wasn’t for such reports I wouldn’t have already known everything you posted.

        • Gel testing seems all well and good for evaluating the mechanical performance of ammunition, but ballistic gel cannot be infused with either pharmaceutical stimulants or adrenalin and keep attacking you while you fire.

          Real-world results of shooting are absolutely critical to real-world strategies.

    • Three shots 9mm, close range, center of mass. Crazy Bad Guy survives after extensive and expensive professional assistance for which he almost certainly has no insurance coverage to be represented at trial by a public defender and then housed in a prison or mental hospital for many years at @ $35,000 per year.

      What is the advantage of CoM shots, again? Or worse yet, double-tap? If you’re going for CoM, keep shooting until he’s down or you’re empty, whichever comes first. Maybe three or four all in a row will do the job. Worked for that cop in Spokane a few weeks ago.

      And yes, it would be interesting to know exactly where those shots impacted and WHY they did not do the job.

      • You’re implying self-defense must necessarily mean “killing your opponent”.
        Those 3 rounds of 9mm stopped the threat. They WORKED. They DID THE JOB. If your idea of self-defense is not “Stop your attacker” but “KILL your attacker”, then I’m sorry, but that is no longer self-defense.

        Now don’t get me wrong. Most of the time a SD killing is justified, but it should never be what you WANT, you want to protect yourself, not wonder why your 3 rounds didn’t kill him. If he’s not charging at you anymore, after 3 or after 17 rounds, you’re no longer in danger. Leave it at that instead of wondering “Why didn’t he die?”

        • After ONE shot reaches COM from the described range and another shot has to be fired, the ammo did not do the job. The job is a one shot stop. Main thing I’d like to know is how many exited the target, endangering anyone behind him. OTOH, when the good guy had to go buy a gun to defend himself (as, he did not already have one), my bet is that the perp was shot with FMJ target ammo. Not a criticism of the good guy, he did as well as you can expect. Give him a couple more years before the big “test”, and he may well have had a .45 with HP ammo, and one hit would do the job.

  2. Doesn’t sound like Mr.Cvengaros had the required gunfighting training recommended by some of our readers. I am surprised that he could have successfully defended himself against machette man without said training. He probably doesn’t even know what the Tueller Drill is.

    Ok, Sammy, what is the most important factor in a DGU?

    • Well, Id say he would at least agree that the most important factor to a DGU (i dont think he would use that term 🙂 ) is to make sure you have a firearm.

      • That would be the conventional answer but like most conventional wisdom it isn’t the right one. The most important factor in a DGU is that your assailant always has the initiative because you cannot take the first overt act. I am surprised that David Kenik does not point this out everytime he comments on DGU tactics.

        • Wait. What?

          I guess it depends on how you define “overt act.” You don’t have to wait until he’s shooting at you, of course, and there are all kinds of disparity of force issues. As well as castle doctrine.

          So, if CD is in play, then I guess you could argue that his overt act is entering your home in the first place. Plus, he had a weapon. He ignored threats.

          I fail to see how conventional wisdom is discounted in a case like this. He brought a gun to a knife fight and won.

          Twisting up over training, caliber, stance, how he held his mouth and everything else is, in my oft-repeated opinion, pointless. Bottom line, gun fights and ANY fight-for-your-life situation is ugly and messy and chaotic and NOT a pretty preconceived picture of what we want or think it should be.

          What matters is the guy was scared and had the means to defend himself. It worked out this time. Can’t we just celebrate that?

        • Paul:

          It’s not more or less training it is the right of kind of training. If you walk into a “defense” pistol course and the first words out of the instuctors mouth are not “your assailant has the initiative” then you are in the wrong class.

        • JR:

          Duh, the fact that he enters your house is the overt act. The overt act outside your house is shall we say less well defined.

        • Okay, cool. I was just trying to clarify. “Overt act” could be taken many ways.

          And with this,

          “the first words out of the instuctors mouth are not “your assailant has the initiative” then you are in the wrong class.”

          I agree also.

        • Wrong. First words out of your instructor’s mouth should be “welcome students”. I think you might be going full operator here.

        • tdiinva;
          looks to me like anybody who thinks his answer is the only correct one needs to study up rather than making some “magic words” appear quite that important.

    • There are so many machetes already in circulation that banning them wouldn’t have an effect on them for decades to come. Even if we created enhanced machete background checks, criminals could still steal them from those who lawfully own them. Even worse, some criminals might make crude machete-type weapons from commonly available materials. I still fear that a lunatic could enter a machete free zone and kill multiple people before being stopped.

      • But since machetes obviously cause normal, law abiding citizens to assault their neighbors, we NEED an Assault Machete Ban. Think of the children!

        • Well, we should at least get a ban on short-handled machetes and any machete with that black ‘stealth coating’ on the blade. Neither of those has any legitimate use in modern society. I mean, really, that’s what gardeners are for.


      • “crude machete-type weapons from commonly available materials.”

        Some folks call it a sling blade, I call it a kaiser blade.. mmmhhmm.

      • not to mention the potential for making machetes out of scrap metal and car springs. This is a situation that only broadly worded, sweeping legislation and the creation of multipe special task forces and at least 2 new government agencies can solve.

        • You aren’t keeping up. Today the problem is inexpensive home 3d RP equipment allowing printing of such deadly scarey things.

        • I know you guys are having fun with this but the scary thing is, these are the same arguments they would use should they (meaning the anti’s) ever get their fondest wish to come true. Look at England. The gun free paradise as an example of how far they will go once the banning starts. You can’t even walk around with a sharp stick without getting arrested. Ok, slight exaggeration, or is it….?

          The point is, banning guns is actually the first step to total domination and subjugation of your citizens. All in the name of protecting the children, because after all, who doesn’t want to protect children…

        • Actually knife crime is way up in the UK…and pronly higher than their admittedly cooked books report. Thats why they sent Pierced Organ here to fix things up…oh well those poor Colonials will never get it but our betters in DC still try. But I digress.

          Clearly the answer is microstamping on all machetes and removal of butter knives from school cafeterias. Do it for the children.

  3. I have nothing against the 9 mm and I’m glad he was armed, but when given that amount of time to prepare for impending trouble reach for Mr. Twelve Gauge.

    • Yeppers. When home I nearly always have a j frame in my pocket. But my primary house guns are 12 bores. 1 upstairs and 1 downstairs.

      After a scary incident when my boys were babies I’m a firm believer in the pump gun being the primary house gun.

      The 12 bore stops the threat and performs the autopsy all at once.

        • I’ve told this story before. My first wife and myself and our 2 boys, both preschool age were asleep upstairs when we heard breaking glass down stairs. Wife grabbed kids from their room and took them to our room and called the police.

          I grabbed an 870 Remington from the closet and posted up at the top of the stairs. Heard at least one person. Because I had small kids and in the day no one used safes the gun had 5 in the tube with an empty chamber. I racked the slide. Departure noises from downstairs.

          Cops arrived and when we looked around we had a broken window and the bag door had been blocked so it was impossible to open from the inside. Never found out who or why but was damn glad for that shotgun.

    • While that’s a good rule of thumb for DGUs outside the home, when some machete-wielding madman breaks into your house and tries to kill you..that’s pretty clear cut.

      What is the DA going to say? That it was murder and he was there to trim your house plant?

      • A lot depends on the jurisdiction, and the motivations of the local prosecutor but the person is quoted as saying,
        “I thought a gun would deter him. It did not.”

        So a prosecutor takes the tact that…
        Didn’t you pull the gun out before you were in imminent peril? You said you presented the gun as a deterrent? (brandishing, assault in some jursdictions….) You stated ‘you thought the gun would deter him? So, you flashed the weapon at him to threaten him?

        How far away was he at this point? Where exactly was he standing? How far was he from the exit, do you think he felt threatened by you presenting the gun as you intended? Do you think he could have retreated prior to you shooting given that distance?

        The prosecutor could try to portray it as the machete weilding nutbag himself acting in self-defense in a situation the homeowner escalated. Guy was wild and broke door and stuff, but he’d never actually hurt anyone before- right? You say you felt he was a threat enough that you bought a gun, but you didn’t move? You had run-ins with him before, he scared you before, correct? Is it possible you were really just trying to scare him vice being in fear for your life?

        Likely? Nope. Conceivable- to me, based on my jurisdiction yes. And regardless of whether it ends up going to trial, or much less a conviction; you can burn a lot of cash even in the preliminaries of being charged even if they end up being dropped. Better to limit the possibility of some prosecutor with bad judgement or an agenda.

        Don’t forget- there are also civil suits to worry about. Again depending on your jurisdiction, even if the police or prosecutor don’t give the case more than 2 seconds before declining to charge anything, it just takes one lawyer thinking he can at least get some money from you to tie you up in legal hassles.

        I wouldn’t say a word beyond, ‘I will not speak to you without a lawyer present.’ Even in obvious cases of self-defense, STFU can save you a lot of trouble.

        • “Is it possible you were really just trying to scare him vice being in fear for your life?”

          I really don’t understand what that means.

        • William- the difference between trying to scare someone thinking they aren’t really an immediate threat, you’re mostly upset that they scared you before and now you want to scare them— and thinking this guy is about to kill/seriously injure me. This homeowner did obtain a gun because of this individual- there is history.

          I’m not a lawyer, either on the internet or in person. I’m biased because of my actual lawyer. A good one, who has agreed to represent me in the event I’m ever in a DGU regardless of the circumstances as long as I abide by two conditions-
          1. My only communication to the police is to request that my lawyer be present before talking to them.
          2. I make no statement to the press, or other folks about what happened.

          He will not represent me if I violate either of those conditions. Regardless of the circumstances or how clear cut a case of self-defense I believe I have.

        • And the rest of the story won’t be told for years. I can recall many times I’ve heard news such as this, really clear cut, then years later heard about the outrageous continuing lawsuits or criminal charges which had been going on the whole time. Not all having to do with shootings, or criminal activity, or whatever, simply all having to do with shameless lawyers ambulance chasing, publicity seeking, seeking image enhancement/publicity before running for office, etc. I must agree, you need to hush. In this case, I’ll bet that in 2-3 years this shooter will have a REAL war story! And his attacker may own his 9mm by then, too.

  4. I agree, if you know trouble is coming, the more firepower the better.
    Unless a shot results in the CNS getting switched off, an immediate stop isn’t guaranteed by any caliber. Granted a full load of 00 buck or a high velocity rifle round will do more damage, neither is 100% without good hits. I recall a shooting where an officer was killed- he’d used his AR duty rifle to engage a suspect that was armed with an SKS. All of the officers rounds (28 I believe) impacted the suspects vehicle’s door or window, before striking the suspect. None had enough energy to properly fragment/expand to stop the incident. The bad guy got off one shot, and killed the officer (after being hit multiple times) On the flip side, there have been plenty of people stopped by one round of 9mm. I’m curious what ammunition the victim in this case had in his pistol.

    Regardless, the best defensive firearm is the one you have when you need it.

    • And just to make your “one round of 9mm” statement even more pointed, I’ll repeat what I said above: I personally have witnessed the autopsies and bodies at the scene of multiple people killed with a single shot from a .22.

      There are so many variables …

      • PS: JR thanks for the reference to the Jared Reston story. Your reference to having seen after actions and autopsies gave me the impression you might have LEO experience so I googled it. Quite a story and another really good proof of “staying in the fight” mindset.

        Still waiting for the Police One website vid to load and noticed other links…including Jared Reston Training.

        uh…is your JR moniker a coincidence?

        • Ooops, yes. It’s a coincidence I had not even noticed before. I’m not him. I don’t think I’m worthy of even carrying his ammo at the range.

          The online written descriptions of the incident give a lot of it, but if you want to hear the story straight from Jared’s mouth in an interview, the Ballistic Radio interview is pretty good:

          I like Reston’s experience as a good learning example for a LOT of reasons. For example, even thinking you know when a gunfight is starting gives lie to all the “head on a swivel, Condition Orange and a Half all the time” claims.

          It’s a very good AAR to study, in my opinion.

          To address your other comment, yes, I do have some LEO experience…a bit in the past.

      • I also recall an early episode of “COPS” where the clerk at a convenience store was shot dead-on Center of Mass by a .22 LR. He called 911, was outside the store when the police arrived, gave them a description of the robber and his vehicle, then sat down on the curb and died.

        Any bullet can kill you. Any bullet can kill the Bad Guy. The question is always what will you/they be doing in the meantime?

        One 12 gauge 00 buck equals @ 8-9 .30 caliber balls. Seems like the rapid application of five .38 or 6-10 9mm would not be out of line in a similar situation.

  5. Cvengros called 9-1-1 TWICE before the police got there.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are some great officers working for Pocatello PD, but response times are absurd in this town. I had a perpetually drunk neighbor trying to bash down my door last year, and it took police almost 20 minutes to get there (I didn’t need physical protection, just someone to arrest him on his three felony warrants).

    Meanwhile, in Idaho Falls only 45 miles to the north, deputies went into full SWAT mode yesterday because a man got out of his car during a traffic stop and hid in his friend’s shed a block away. It’d be a shame to miss out on an opportunity to use their new $336,000 armored tactical response vehicle. Ironic considering there was an actual shots-fired call earlier in the day that police handled without strapping on the jackboots.

  6. “I’ve got to ask again: what is it with crazy people and machetes?”

    To answer that question, operative word is CRAZY, too crazy to use a gun, knife, baseball bat.
    Default choice seem to be machetes, easily available at Garden Supply stores or local Home Depot,
    no background check, no matter how deranged one looks, minimum wage cashier will take your money for one and say “have a good day”

    • It’s the modern equivalent of a sword. It’s an assault knife. They are cheap. They hack people up, probably easily.

      What would you expect them to use?

    • I interned with a local District Attorney’s office here in NC. While I was there we had a case where a mentally disturbed man ran down the road waving a machete in the nude. The charge was “Going Armed to the Terror of the Public.” To this day I can’t imagine a scenario that better fits that particular crime.

  7. Incidents like this tend to show the benefits of living in a state where roughly 90% of the “households” have guns and are willing to use them for self-defense. Generally, home invasions in Idaho are rare, and usually end up decided in the homeowners favor.

  8. Crazy people & machetes? Possibly:
    1. Friday the 13th up to “Part 27: Jason Needs More Money.”
    2.Lighter than an ax, with more cutting area.
    3. Crazy people work a lot of landscaping jobs.
    4. Because I can.

  9. There can be only one!

    I’m glad the asshole broke into this guy’s apartment instead of another with kids and what not. Sounds like machete man was going to go off the rails sooner of later. If it had to happen, glad it turned out to be that he picked the wrong door. Or right door as it was.

  10. I’ll tell you what I got from this post:
    1. Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight
    2. Good guy +1, bad guy 0, and that is a good day

  11. Some magazine limit there? Cvengaros only had 3 rounds of 9mm, obviously stopped shooting too soon.

    Note that “NO ONE needs that three bullets to kill a deer”.

      • Which is why he should’ve gone for a mag dump when the guy was comin’ right for him instead of just three shots.

        That’s the benefit of 9mm, more capacity, more rounds on target.

  12. Why a machete? Closest thing to a sword that you can buy from Home Depot.

    Typical “Liberal”: “Ban Machete’s! There aught to be a law!”

    Logical Person: “Listen, doofuss, this won’t stop criminals from getting them, hell, they’ll just make their own.”

    Typical “Liberal”: What? That’s crazy, people just can’t make things…with their hands. Not without special training and a factory, and a team of people, and a HR department, and management team. I mean, how many criminals could possibly be machete technicians?”

    Logical Person: “???. How many lead paint chips did you eat as a child?”

    Typical “Liberal”: “Mmmmm…lead paint…I like lead paint. It’s sweet…like candy. Do you have some?”

  13. It must have been an assault machete. Probably had one of those black pistol type grips too. This is what caused the attacker to loose his mind…

  14. First they came for my machete…then they came for my baseball bat…then they came for my long handled dust mop….

    “shoo you bad person shoo! ”
    last words of PJ Boy whilst drinking hot cocoa

  15. Sometimes I wish EMS would let “God” figure out if the perp is going to live or die. What a waste of manpower and ER resources and the expense of taxpayers on this nut job. But, it is okay…once he gets out, he will be allowed to own a gun instead of a machete. Right? Isn’t that what the 2A is all about?

    • “Isn’t that what the 2A is all about?”

      Yes, yes it is.

      And if he had come through the door in the same agitated/drug crazed/insane state with a gun the outcome would probably have been the same, only no warnings from home-owner to GTFO. Intruder with gun=intruder shot real quick, no requests for compliance.

      Or would you rather repeal the Second Amendment and just let some government bureaucrat decide who can and cannot keep and bear arms? That seems to be working so well in the states that simply ignore the Constitution.

  16. what is it with crazy people and machetes?

    NYC solved this similar problem back in the 80’s. They added “No Swords” signs to the Staten Island Ferry.

  17. What’s up with criminals these days? Every good criminal knows if you are going to attack someone with a machete in Pocatello you need to do it on the grounds of Idaho State University.Seriously how dumb are theses criminals? Don’t they know that President Vailas has made it very clear that the proposed guns on campus bill in Idaho creates some serious security concerns. I would argue those safety concerns are for all those unarmed victims, but what do I know. I guess a life of crime just isn’t what it used to be anymore.

  18. Back in the day poor people in the Caribbean (Jibaros) could not afford guns or swords, but everyone had a machete. And they were at times used for honorable duels. The duelers were bound to each other by a piece of rope about 3-feet long, and then let loose to have at it.

    I kid you not. Google Guazabara info.


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