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An Ohio man is hospitalized and facing criminal charges after calling 911 to report that he’d been shot. He neglected to tell 911 that he’d been shot while breaking into a house, but luckily the homeowner had already called the police himself to report the shooting. This case illustrates the critical importance of being the first party to call 911 after a DGU . . .

Police say 21 year-old Randy Estrada called 911 early last Thursday morning and told Toledo police that he’d been shot in the leg while walking on the sidewalk. He didn’t mention anything about a burglary, but the police already knew. Homeowner Antione Garrett had just called 911 himself to report that he’d fired multiple shots at an intruder breaking into his home on a nearby street.

EMTs picked up Estrada and took him to the hospital while police investigated the shooting. By the end of the day Thursday they had charged Estrada with burglary. As of Friday press time Estrada was still getting patched up, but would likely be arrested and brought before a judge as soon as he was released from hospital.

I’d love to know how the police put the clues together: did Estrada leave a blood trail? Did the bullet in his leg match the bullets in Garrett’s walls? Few details have been released, but the Toledo Blade will have them as they emerge.

Mr. Garrett may not have been a great shot, but his marksmanship was adequate and he did everything else basically right: he defended himself lawfully, he didn’t try to capture or kill Estrada after the threat was ended, and he called 911 promptly. If the worst happens and you’re forced to do as he did, remember to call 911 before your assailant does.

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    • I suppose that poses a certain issue for those of us who choose to live without a cell phone…

      Personally I believe it’s a great decision, but it would certainly have the potential to make situations like this more difficult.

      • FYI you can still use a cell phone to dial 911 even if you have no cell phone plan or prepaid minutes. I used to carry a small old phone around for this very reason, although now I have a smartphone.

        Of course there’s the argument that the police are likely to make things worse but at least you have the option if need be.

        I do wonder how important calling 911 first actually is though…

        • As per federal law, cell phone carriers are required to connect emergency calls made through all cell phones, including disconnected ones.

          My choice to live without one is based off a number of reasons:

          1) It encourages you to develop your sense of self-reliance if help ISN’T a phone-call away
          2) I like being disconnected from the electronic world
          3) It encourages better planning ahead of time
          4) It gets in the way, so it’s one less thing I have to worry about damaging/losing

          And perhaps most importantly, think about this. Cell phone usage really began to proliferate back in the early 2000’s. Imagine the federal government had tried to pass a law during that time that said everybody had to have a GPS tracker installed on their person? People would’ve been outraged. But they didn’t have to try and pass that law, because the people went out and bought them of their own accord.

          Obviously, that being used against the American people is a worst case scenario and (hopefully) still a long ways off, but I’m hedging my bets now. The less we’re on the government’s radar, the better.

      • I believe most, if not all, cell phone carriers offer a 911 only option. In other words, your cell will not allow you to place or receive any calls but to 911. Might want to think about that option if you choose not avail yourself of full cell phone usage.

        • I think the 911 calling requirement is written into the FCC licensing regs. And if you have a car with Onstar you have a cell phone with you.

        • I prefer the self-reliant mentality that is required if you can’t call for help…

          Granted I’ve always had it, thus eliminating the need for calling capabilities in the first place.

          And as far as On-Star/cell phone/GPS systems in vehicles, that’s why I drive a ’96 Sierra, and will always drive old vehicles. Lack of electronics, namely On-Star/cell phone/GPS

        • I have found a need to be careful using a cell for 911. I’ve only dialed 911 around 4 times, lifetime, and only once from my cell. The operator had no idea where the address was that I gave her, I had been connected to 911 three counties away. She had to transfer me to the appropriate dispatch….

      • 1) Not if you don’t HAVE a cell phone.

        2) Not if it’s an analog phone, apparently. Mine wouldn’t call squat after the company went digital and scratched my plan.

    • No one said it was a requirement to have a cell phone on you when you carry. They just said it is a good idea. not only to call 911, but as long as the scene is safe to take a couple of photos and then text them to your lawyer (in case the police take your phone and the photos get “deleted by accident”). When I carry I also have two things in my wallet— my permit, and business card of a local attorney to call after a DGU that has key points to remember after a DGU, like statements and actions easy to forget after a huge stress. The business card again isn’t a requirement, just a good idea.

  1. Excellent article and a ggod point about training. If you are going to arm yourelf for self defense you have to consider and prepare yourself for the post shooting legal process and how to conduct yourself to retain your freedom and assets. including evidence to win the potential civil case against you. Cons have successfully sued homeowners for injuries in burglaries and won. This should be part of your drills – in a continuum of events…like states of awareness…the four rules…go-no go scenarios…range time for basics…dry firing….malf drills…and post shoot shutup talk to your lawyer. If you are serious about defending your family and not just into it for ego gratification…Nathan you listening?time…

  2. Speaking from experience as a Paramedic, when someone shows up at a hospital with a GSW (gun shot wound) the police are ALWAYS called and investigate, regardless of how the person says they were shot (“I was just cleaning my firearm and it went off”, or “I was standing on the street minding my own business when someone drove up and shot me”).

    Therefor it’s not too difficult to go from “A homeowner reported a shooting, and someone showed up at the local ER with a gun shot wound” to knowing the two are most likely related.

    • Yeah, I’m not in the medical profession, but “the police investigate all gunshot wounds” has been a “known rule” for as long as I can remember. It’s even used in TV and movies quite a bit for the reason shot bad guys don’t go to the hospital, but to a vet’s office or a “doctor that owes us a favor” instead.

    • Around here, never-learn criminals get shot on a weekly, seems like almost daily, basis. The cops cut them off at the pass and stake out the nearby ER’s once they learn of a shooting.

      I always thought a clever crook, as if, might go to a vet’s office or animal hospital. Same legalities apply, no doubt, but with fewer people there, especially at night, they might be able to control the scene, get treatment, and get out before the cops show up or get called.

  3. I kind of like the line of thinking the instructor recommended during my CPL class: if at all possible have 911 on the phone DURING the DGU. the thinking being that if you have to defend yourself in court you have a 911 recording of you warning the intruder you’re armed and will shoot if they don’t leave.

    Now, I realize there is an awful lot that has to go “right” in order for that to happen, but at least the reasoning always seemed sound to me.

    Of course, having the bad guy call 911 after you works too….

    • Simple.

      Because in cop-lingo, the first person to contact law enforcement is called the “complainant.” This has a bearing on your legal standing.

      My personality is such that I’d be perfectly happy in such a situation (ie, where it ends that none of me or mine are hurt, the assailant is out of the house and off my property, etc) to simply close my door, clean up and be about my business.

      But the taxpayer-funded busybodies we call “the police” will start an investigation, and eventually, if the perp didn’t die, the police are going to end up on your doorstep. If you didn’t contact law enforcement in a timely manner, there will be all sorts of other questions they’re going to ask, starting with “why didn’t you call us?”

      Telling them “Well, the perp was gone, I was OK, so I didn’t need you or your paperwork…” is probably going to result in the cops exhibiting all the signs of entitled children being told “no, sit down and be quiet:” They’re going to act out, and your dog will likely suffer as a result.

  4. Sincere question here: How does calling the police to report a DGU square with invoking your 5A right and never talking to the police without a lawyer present?

    • The same way a government official can make a statement before Congress and plead the 5th when start asking questions?

    • “I was attacked and there’s been a shooting. Please send police and medical.”

      Then hang up. Or leave the line open, if that’s your thing. You don’t have to give them your life story, and you don’t have to respond to their questions.

      (By the way, the “there’s been a shooting” is probably not the best way to phrase it. I’ve heard better, but I can’t think of them right now.)

      • I’m pretty sure that you should give a bit more info so the police can differentiate between you and the bad guy. Not saying you should give all of the details of what happened but they should at least know what you look like (so hopefully they don’t shoot you).

        • That’s probably wise. Description of yourself, and your attacker (especially if they have left the scene).

    • My lawyer’s advice to me, in my particular circumstances, and yours may be different, is always to secure your firearm as soon as you safely can, call 911, advise your name, location and what kind of assistance you require. Hang up and wait, comply when they arrive. Do not refuse medical treatment, no matter how minor, even if just for oxygen.

      Then comes the drill: state no consent for searches, right to remain silent, lawyer before any questions.

    • It doesn’t… but that’s why you have the “right” to remain silent, not the obligation. Just like you have the “right” to free speech but you might not want to burn a flag. Figure out a reasonable middle-ground and you’ll be better off for it…

  5. Its actually better to get a bystander or other party to call 911, since everything you say will be recorded and used against you later if you have a (typical) whacky DA who wants to press charges against you. If theres no one around and no witnesses, well, take your time and think about your next move real carefully. Jumping on the phone to 911 when you are understandably hyped up after a shooting is a BIG MISTAKE.

    • Except, it’s been shown again and again to be true, whoever’s story they hear first gets more weight. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.

      • Everybody can do whatever they want. Advice on here is like Obamas promises, take it or leave it. Having sat in a court room and listened to my 911 recording played over and over again after a DGU thats my opinion. The 911 buttons have been removed from my phone, but do whatever. I learned my lesson.

        • George, is that you?

          If your 911 call got played over and over, and it was to your detriment, without any further information my guess is you said too much.

  6. Ordinary Joe calls police after popping a guy but after dirtbag with long rap sheet reports being randomly shot a block away. I think most cops will know what happened but in NJ you have a duty to run away. It could get interesting. In the UK this is easy since the criminal files suit and charges against the homeowners.

  7. Around here 911 on a cell is answered by the State Patrol not the local PD. Which in my area is the Sheriff’s Department. Better to have the sheriffs # on speed dial.

    I only know that is true in my AO. Yours might be different.

  8. When having a bystander Call, be sure they are on your side. Even the victim may say they were going to kill me but he didn’t need to shoot him.

  9. luckily the homeowner had already called the police himself to report the shooting

    The first call doesn’t always “win.” But in situations that are ambiguous or lack obvious evidence, the first call often wins, and always wins if the other party makes no call at all before the cops catch up to him.

    If I was defending myself, I would want to shoot first and call first — even if my attacker was in no condition to call anyone.

    • There have been circumstances where the incipient mugger turned away by an armed citizen has called 911 to report Man With Gun!, and the usual keystone-esque scenario followed.

      Call, state your name and your location. State that you have been attacked/someone broke into your home/whatever and that you drew your weapon/fired at the attacker/intruder. EVEN IF YOU DON”T FIRE CALL THE POLICE! Because you do NOT want to be in a position where the perp calls the cops and tells them that someone pulled a gun and threatened to shoot him (which is probably an accurate description of the situation, except that it leaves out the part of you exercising your right to self-defense). Expect the police response to be negative ESPECIALLY IF YOU DID NOT CALL.

  10. Keep in mind if you say you have been shot you will have to wait for the SWAT team callout, perimeter security and the Fire/EMS hanging out 2 blocks out while you bleed.

    You had better be able to take care of the GSW on your own in that situation.

  11. I think, rather than worrying about who is fastest on the draw with dialing 911, the focus should be on, drawing fast, aiming center mass and lead on target. My question would be, would the homeowner really be within his rights, had he held the man for authorities to apprehend? The only things the homeowner should have on their mind, following a justified shooting is: “Are my family members (friends, neighbors) ok?”, “Have I been shot?” (my be in shock… self assess) and making sure they can articulate why they fired their weapon. In reality, there are many cases where the person who is defending their home, are not the first to dial the authorities, yet it is not a case killer.


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