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“The man who shot two alleged attackers in what Battle Creek police say was self-defense told 24 Hour News 8 that the planned Craigslist deal that brought him to the area seemed normal at first until he and his father were jumped.” There’s a problem right there. Two innocent men meet two strangers for a transaction involving large amounts of cash. At night. What’s wrong with that picture? I’m not victim blaming. I’m simply pointing out that . . .

situational awareness is a way of life.

If you’re meeting someone new to do a deal involving money – and maybe even if it doesn’t involve a financial exchange  – why not get a reference first? Or meet them in public? If you can’t ’cause, say, you’re going to their home to see a car, be extra-special careful about your safety. Carrying a gun is, as this story indicates, a capital idea. Bringing an associate is another excellent safeguard. Maintaining physical distance from your new friends is also highly advised.

Other than that, limit the amount of information you provide a 911 operator post-defensive gun use. Remember that everything you say to the 911 operator is recorded and can be used against you in a court of law. Give the operator the bare minimum amount of info needed to secure the scene: your name, location and description, the location of the crime (if different) and the need for police and an ambulance. Always an ambulance (for yourself if no one else).

“My name is Robert Vanderwiel. I’m at —- in Urbandale. There’s been a shooting. Two men are injured. I need police and an ambulance. I’m wearing a blue sweater and glasses. My son is wearing a green T-shirt and jeans. Please get here as soon as possible.” Other than that, provide a description of any perps who got away and the direction they’re headed. “I’ll be waiting on the pavement.”

Done. Hang up.

You are under no obligation to stay on the line and/or explain your actions. If you feel you have to make sure to say “my life was in danger.” But make sure you do everything you can to prevent an attack by not putting yourself into a dangerous position; before, during and after an assault.

[h/t JK]

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  1. Interesting point re: meeting someone at their house to look at a car. My wife rarely misses an opportunity to make snarky comments about my keeping a gun to hand. But when my son, who went through a substantial “buy it, fix it, drive it, sell it” phase, was going to do just that (meet someone to maybe buy his truck), she calls me at work to tell me I’m going with him, and to be sure and take my gun. Which I did.

    • Kinda funny how that works, isn’t it. My wife used to give me those “really?” looks when I started carrying, but these days she just expects me to be discreetly armed and gets nervous whenever I have to disarm for one of those magical gun-free zones.

      • Mine’s even, ahh, funnier. Even after that, and after a few instances of seeing someone else on the road during the evening dog-walk and asking me,”Do you have your gun?”–she still makes with the snarky cracks.

        • Mine is on her 4th carry gun, the first was in 1965, when she was 18, and I bought it for her, a Beretta .25 auto. That’s the only one she doesn’t still own. Next a Colt detective special, .38 Spl., in 1972, then a Sig P230 .380 in 1998, and finally a S&W Airweight .38, around 2009. Snarky I have never gotten.

      • My wife is absolutely hoplophobic, but the older and more disabled she gets (she is completely defenseless), the happier she is that I have a gun in the house. She used to get nasty when she’d bump into the gun in my pocket, but no more, even if she will not touch one herself.

  2. I would add to the info given to 911 that YOU (the caller) are the victim of a crime. If you have a DGU, the person you shot is NOT the victim, YOU are.

    If you have some type of legal representation ( I have Texas Law Shield) then call them as soon as you hang up with 911.

  3. Good tip. “My name is Robert Vanderwiel. I’m at —- in Urbandale. There’s been a shooting. Two men are injured. I need police and an ambulance. I’m wearing a blue sweater and glasses. My son is wearing a green T-shirt and jeans. Please get here as soon as possible.” Other than that, provide a description of any perps who got away and the direction they’re headed. “I’ll be waiting on the pavement.”


    Or if an Unintentional injury could be reported: “My name is Chris ., there has been a firearms training accident at Rod & Gun Club – ambulance is needed please. ”
    That way you can avoid the swat response of “Somebody’s BEEN SHOT!”…

    • “Why am I carrying a pistol? Because if I had the luxury of knowing beforehand when I was going to be attacked I’d bring a rifle, and several friends with rifles.”

      • YES! The competition: The best pistol in the hands of an expert shooter vs. a carbine in the hands of a modestly trained guy.
        The rifle.
        Look what cops do. When just cruising: pistol. When SHTF carbines.

      • Ah yes, this reminds me of this past Sunday. Me and several of my friends went target shooting on BLM land. We each had a pistol (or in my case – two), and an AR-15. One of my buddies brought two AR-15s, an AR-10 with a suppressor (bad a$$ gun), and a .270 Bolt Action hunting rifle in addition to his 9mm Ruger. I felt…safe..with all that firepower. Much fun.

    • When you buy junk cars to fix them up, you have to go where the heap is. If the seller works until dark, that may be the only time to make the transaction. I wouldn’t say never do it, but just be alert.

  4. Many town police, including my own, now have “safe zones” for Craigslist transactions. Sometimes, these zones include the parking lot of the local police station.

    This may be one of the few examples of police actually preventing crimes before they occur, rather than drawing the chalk lines and chasing the perpetrators after the damage has been done.

    Check with your own local police to see if they provide such a service. If they don’t, maybe they will if you ask.

    • Do not assume the parking lot of a police department is always safe. Many patrolmen stay as far away from the back office as they can while on patrol. If they are at the office, they are probably sitting at a desk in a back room writing reports.

      • Nobody needs to be looking out the windows. Cops come and go through the parking lots of the cop shops all the time, and I’ve rarely seen such a parking lot without working closed-circuit cameras. The next time you visit the police station on business or whatever, look for the TVs. The live feed often covers the parking lot and all exits and entrances.

        • Not all police departments are like the one in your city. Budget and risk have a lot to do with what a police department installs outside a building and whether they can be manned 24/7. Heck, one city I lived closed police service from 2am to 8am every night. The Sheriff worked those hours, and their response time was typically 1 hour. The point I made was don’t assume a police parking lot is safe.

    • It’s a great idea. You know if they might have bad intentions if they don’t want to meet at a police station. This rule had gotten me out of several potentially bad craigslist deals.

  5. Teaching people ways to avoid becoming a victim, or how to not be an easy victim is not victim blaming. IMHO.

    The bad guy is always at fault and responsible for the evil they do. But that isn’t any consolation to the suffering of the victim– it’s better to not be a victim and avoid the pain. These folks are going to go through some hassle they possibly could have avoided, not their fault the guy tried to rob them, but they are stuck with the hassle now.

    • I really can’t get with this biz about seeing someone doing something patently unwise, saying “That is patently unwise”, and then getting bashed for “victim blaming”. Just another way of absolving people from their own responsibility for their own actions.

  6. I was with you, right up to the point where you wrote, “hang up.”

    The situation can change. More thug(s) could show up. The wounded guy could find the gun in his pocket. Other good guys could arrive and intervene. If someone takes off running, you’ll want to provide a description and direction of travel. You may discover there is more relevant information you can provide. I’m fine with not spilling every gory detail to the dispatcher, but it’s better to stay on the line.

    • Agreed. The moment you become uncooperative and hang up on the dispatcher you are now a suspect. While it may work out fine in the end it will make things more dicey than they need to be if you’re not guilty.

      • Don’t hang up on the 911 operator! The operator is trained to keep the caller on the line to maintain a stream of fresh and accurate information to the responders. If the officers who are showing up are able to ask questions and have them answered while they are en route to the scene, they will feel a lot more comfortable about the situation when they get there. If you hang up, they are going in blind and they will be assuming a worst case scenario.

        • I’m not sure what the operators are trained to do or if they’re properly trained at all, but I agree with you — it’s just unwise to hang up.

          I’d leave the line open so the operator could hear me yell “don’t kill me!”

    • Curtis,

      Keeping a cell phone in one hand and concentrating on questions from the 911 dispatcher seriously compromises your situational awareness. Hanging up could be an extremely important tactical move if your attacker/s decide to regroup and renew his/her/their attack.

    • Disagree. Here’s the thing, the 911 operator will be talking to you. He has a script for various situations, and he will be working through that script with you. This means that most likely you will be talking back to him quite a bit. The more words that come out of your mouth, the higher chance that some of them are going to come back to haunt you in a court of law. Say your piece, verify that they understand, then STFU and hang up. And make sure your gun is safely back in the holster for when the cops arrive, to the extent that the situation allows of course.

  7. Stupid people, stupid places, but I have been there and done that. I have had two weird interactions on Craigslist of less than 5 total…never again. I have been armed for every single one of them and thankful that I was. Selling a Harley to a 1% biker was very interesting.

  8. Yeah and I buy and sell for a living. Very rarely do I do Craigslist meetups-and never at night. Coincidentally I was biking just an hour ago and biked down a nearby street. I heard screaming(wailing really) of a woman yelling “get off me”.Inside of a house. I stopped to investigate and noticed a man sitting in the back seat in a car directly in front of the house. I also didn’t have a phone with me(and was armed with a pepper blaster/knife). So I biked home and called the po-leece-who were total azzwipes(non-emergency # too). It gets worse if you call 911.I have reported a dog attack and was treated like I was biting the victim. So I recommend NEVER calling the cops. I don’t know what happened to the woman either. Don’t have CC yet so I break the law sparingly…BTW we DO have a Craiglist safe zone at the local po-leece station.

  9. What’s the rule? About not going stupid places?

    “If you don’t mind, I’d like to meet in the police department parking lot.”

  10. Also be careful who you invite to your house. A neighbor recently had a break in attempt (stopped by an alarm) late at night. They are pretty sure it was an Uber driver (or associate) because one person was taken to the airport that evening thus giving the impression the isolated house would be unoccupied.

  11. In the victim’s defense, It gets dark pretty early here this time of year, and they were going to a home .
    I don’t know where they are from but if they had to travel far, any after work /dinner meeting will be after dark.
    I live in Michigan and have friends in battle creek/Kalamazoo area. battle creek is not generally though of as High crime.

  12. As for using the local fire house. Our lot is fenced and locked, we’re gone a large portion of the day , And I would not allow my men to intervene in some unknown dispute .

    Other then that feel free to park out front and do your deal , just don’t block the appron .

  13. My wife likes me to always carry my gun, and she would tell my I’m just plain stupid to go to meet someone in the night in a secluded place about a car.

    Go figure.

  14. It’s illegal, where I ive, to have a firearm on police/sheriff property. That includes the parking lot.

    I’d rather meet obviously shady characters in a dark alley with a gun of my own, than glazed-eyed prius drivers with obama bumper stickers in a police parking lot.

  15. Thomas Jefferson’s letter to James Madison on January 30, 1787 have the last word: “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” I have the right to feel safe and that includes carrying a loaded firearm. I have the right to protect myself and if you don’t like it tough $hit.
    The 2nd Amendment was put into the Constitution so the people could protect themselves from a corrupt government. No double standards put DC politicians on Obamacare and SS and take away their guns.Thanks for your support and vote.Pass the word.


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